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Toddler's Uncontrollable Nightime Crying/Yelling

(10 Posts)
JimbobJones Fri 20-Nov-09 13:26:01

Our 3 year old DS is waking in the night and crying, yelling and screaming uncontrollbably. This can go on for up to an hour, around midnight or in the early hours, and sometimes more than once.

When one of us goes into his room he is usually out of bed, standing up, sometimes shaking and at first seems as if he is still half asleep.

He will not respond when we ask him what the matter is, his language is excellant for a boy of his age, and we ask him to 'use words' but he just keeps crying and yelling.

He is often then put on the toilet, and he does a wee, whilst the cying continues and still doesn't stop afterwards.

Our 1 year old baby is in the next room and is sometimes woken by all this, which we fear because then we have to deal with both of them. This is also obviously affecting our sleep and making us frustrated and often angry (shouting) which we later regret and think we are bad parents.

We have tried talking to him calmly, taking him downstairs so as to avoid disturbing our baby. We ask him to calm down and that he can go back up stairs once he is calm again, but this seldom works. He does eventually calm down and go back to sleep, but it takes a good while.

Is this night terrors? attention seeking? behavioural? He often asks for the light on in his room (once he has actually started to talk back to us - but still sobbing and yelling)), or to get in with us or for one of us to sleep in his bed, which we have done once (of each) but we don't want to set precedences. We have recently moved house, but been here for over a month now, and this behaviour although very frequent doesnt happen every night, but nearly everynight.

We have also tried incentives to be quiet or promises to take privildges away from him eg. no Shrek DVD tomorrow (which he loves at the mo).

We are obviously really worried about him and his behaviour and it is also affecting our ability to function during the day due to lack of sleep.

Any advice/shared experinces welcome please.

OP’s posts: |
Miggsie Fri 20-Nov-09 13:36:55

This does sound like night terrors and puishment is not appropriate in this case.

It does sound like emotional based fear and is perhaps linked to your recent move.
He needs to be talked to about emotions, so not to say what is the matter but to say how he feels.

DD had this and would say "no no no no" endlessly and nothing else. In the end I asked "was she scared?", "did she feel horrid in her tummy?" "did she have funny feelings in her chest?" (panic attack symptons). She would nod and nod but was almost incapable of speech.

In the end we managed to get out of her that monkeys with big teeth were coming into her room! Apparently they jumped over the bed and used their big claws to rip up her floor!

The next day I got a big broom and went round her room yelling "get out of here" and DH went under the bed and shouted and we waved the broom all over the place. DD then joined in yelling "go away!" It was quite catharthic.

DH went out and bought a big cuddly tiger and put in in the doorway to "guard" DD and we told her her cuddly dog would stay awake in the night and chase the monkey away.
The tiger is still on the landing guarding all of us and this shouting at the monkeys did stop the bad dreams. For DD this monkey was completely real. One day she actually described it and it sounded terrifying, she even said it had a red hat on and she had seen every detail.

If it carries on a trip to the GP may be in order, but empathise with his fear and tell him you are there for him first of all.

I sympathise with the screaming and getting no sleep!
At weekends we often dropped off to sleep together on the sofa in the afternoon.

Starshinetiger Fri 20-Nov-09 13:41:18

Hi JimBob - any chance it is last teeth coming through? We had with DS and I have read on many occasions of toddler dirsuption at night being subsequently found to be the last teeth coming through and despite the toddler having good language they either can't or don't seem to realise what is troubling them. Our DS has good language, but when his teeth were coming through we had several disrupted nights with him crying but unable to tell us what was wrong.

Other than that - our 3.2yo also calls out in the night and sometimes it is a real cry/shout, but when we go in it seems he is still asleep, even if his eyes are open. A quick cuddle and he goes back. Sorry, doesn't sound as bad as with your DS (mind you we still have an 8mo who wakes 2x in night - grrr). Sounds like could be night terrors if not teeth. Not sure what to suggest, except lots of reassurance. Our DS also went through a phase of saying there were monsters in the room at bedtime. We dealt with by either a) saying, oh no, Mummy/Daddy has sent them home as it's bedtime, or b) what colour is the monster? Do you want to play? and then proceeding accordingly.

Sorry, really just bumping this for you... as I'm obviously not much help blush

sb6699 Fri 20-Nov-09 13:44:45

I think my dd (3 yo) is having night terrors too so completely sympathise with the lack of sleep.

She wakes up screaming uncontrollably, goes stiff if we try to pick her up and kicks her legs. Her eyes are open but she's not really seeing iykwim.

Her speech isnt great so we have no idea what is wrong and our HV's advice was to wait for her to grow out of it hmm

Watching this thread with interest to see if anyone has any better suggestions.

MollieO Fri 20-Nov-09 13:49:05

Sounds like night terrors to me. Poor chap. Ds has these and has done so since he was about 6 months old (he's now 5).

Sometimes he is aware of me other times not. He can rarely speak in a way I can understand when he is in the middle of this. He can have them once or twice a week or every night, no pattern at all.

All I do is hold him and tell him that mummy is here and that there is nothing to be afraid of and comfort him until he goes back to sleep. That can take a few minutes or a lot longer.

Expecting him to be lucid and punishing him for his 'behaviour' is completely inreasonable imo.

Night terrors happen during REM sleep so some theories say about waking them up about 15 mins before to try and break the cycle. That hasn't worked at all with ds.

MollieO Fri 20-Nov-09 13:49:42

unreasonable not inreasonable.

MollieO Fri 20-Nov-09 13:51:18

The other thing that ds sometimes does in the middle of an episode is point at the wall. Absolutely nothing there and he can never communicate what he thinks he is seeing so I just comfort in pretty general terms.

JimbobJones Fri 20-Nov-09 15:20:56

Thank you all for taking the time to reply with your advice and perspectives. It's all invaluable! Cheers

OP’s posts: |
imryan1 Fri 09-Dec-16 09:18:52

Hi Jimbob,
I am going through the exact same situation with my son who unfortunately is 2 and a half year old but still hasn't started speaking. As you have had a lot of time since then, is there anything you could enlighten me with? I have just moved home (about 1 month ago), but does that have any bearing on his behaviour? Any help in this regards will be very much appreciated.

anv16 Wed 22-Aug-18 21:19:08

Hi Jimbob And imryan1,
We are experiencing same with our 2 year old. Could you please share your experiences if you figured out any issue or did the behavior eventually stop?

Hope to get the reply.

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