23 answers

2 Year Old Wakes Scared,screaming, Crying, in the Night

My 2 year old wakes up in the middle of the night. He's scared out of his mind,screaming, shaking, and crying. His eyes are open but it's like he's not awake yet, it's takes about 30 min to calm him down. Has anyone had this happen? Is he just dreaming and doesn't realize what is going on? Your advise would be great.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

To start with, Thank You all so much for your advise and stories relating to mine! It was such a comfort to see this is just another phase. I took your advise and didn't wake him up last during his night terror again last night. He was calmer and it only lasted about 5 min, he fell back asleep on his own. I just rubbed his back, I didn't say a word and he wasn't as scared. Thanks again!

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My daughter had these almost nightly from when she very young til about 4 and my son occassionally had them @ 2 yrs. old. I learned from a friend that she stopped her kids from having ANY sugar after 4/5 pm and they stopped completely for her kids. I tried it and was amazed that it worked for my kids too. I suggested to another friend whose kids had ice cream every night after dinner. She stopped and they lessened greatly in her situation. My daughter will still occassionally have them and there was no sugar involved...most recently she woke up every 1/2 - 1 from 9:30pm til 4 am...that was the worst. I took her to the dr. the next day thinking she was coming down with something...nothing...so maybe she was overtired then? She is 7 now.

Good luck!
I hope the no sugar at night is the answer for you too!
S.

1 mom found this helpful

My friends son did the same thing. She said that he had "Night Terrors". Much different from a bad dream. He actually didn't ever remember it but most of the time they just waited until he stopped screaming on his own. They found that he would get more upset if they tried to wake him up.

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My daughter had these almost nightly from when she very young til about 4 and my son occassionally had them @ 2 yrs. old. I learned from a friend that she stopped her kids from having ANY sugar after 4/5 pm and they stopped completely for her kids. I tried it and was amazed that it worked for my kids too. I suggested to another friend whose kids had ice cream every night after dinner. She stopped and they lessened greatly in her situation. My daughter will still occassionally have them and there was no sugar involved...most recently she woke up every 1/2 - 1 from 9:30pm til 4 am...that was the worst. I took her to the dr. the next day thinking she was coming down with something...nothing...so maybe she was overtired then? She is 7 now.

Good luck!
I hope the no sugar at night is the answer for you too!
S.

1 mom found this helpful

These are night terrors and my oldest went through it. It is a phase that some kids go through and your little one will come out of it. You might have also noticed an increase (or start) or some pretty big tantrums during the day. My pediatrician said they go hand in hand. Just know your little boy is normal and that this will eventually go away. Hang in there... it's harder on you, than it is on him.

SAHM of 3 boys with baby 4 due any day

My friends son did the same thing. She said that he had "Night Terrors". Much different from a bad dream. He actually didn't ever remember it but most of the time they just waited until he stopped screaming on his own. They found that he would get more upset if they tried to wake him up.

Sounds like a classic case of night terrors. I've been through it with both of my kids and it is terrifying (more for us than for them, bcs they don't remember it at all). Google it, and you will find lots of descriptions which will help you determine if that's what's happening. There's not a lot you can do, but it becomes less scary knowing what it is, and what to expect. And they do outgrow it!

Sounds that he is having a nightmare. Find out from his school, or daycare how was his day. My suggestion is to pray over your son everyday!!

Yes he is probably having what they like to call night terrors. I heard that you shouldnt wake them. So i would just go in and assure him he is ok, mommy is here, his room/house is safe, that sort of stuff. And then pat him back to sleep. I am no sure however how to avoid them. He probably doesnt even remember the next day. If he watches anything during the day that could be disturbing I'd cut that out. But I do not know if any foods are related to night terrors.

This is normal. My daughter did it between 12 and 18 months. They are just nighterrors I think, buti am sure it is normal. RThere is really nothing you cna do except hold them and do what you can to make them comfortable. It is a stage and you'll get through it. It probably variesfor each child as to how long it will last

Hi S.,

Call your pediatrician and talk to his nurse about what your are experiencing with your soon.

Join a support group for mom's.

http://attachmentparenting.meetup.com

Good luck. Hope this helps. D.

This is called night terrors. I have one son who has had several episodes. It has been so bad that in order to wake him up my husband has taken him into the shower. I mean we tried talking, clapping, sort of yelling, a splash of water on the face but nothing would wake him and he'd just sit there with his eyes open and sobbing his little heart out. Unfortunately, there's really nothing you can do about these. You can try to not feed him to close to bedtime or make sure he goes to the bathroom and other things, but if your kid is like mine, there seems to be no pattern when he'll have one. Luckily, as he's gotten older they have become less frequent. If you are really concerned, speak to your pediatrician but generally, you'll just have to deal with it. They do freak you out at first when you just don't know if they're really awake or what and they keep crying and crying but after you've been thru a few, you realize that the best thing is to stay calm and try to wake him and then sooth him after he's awaken since he'll be a bit freaked out himself.

Good luck!
Julie

Sounds like he might be having something called Night Terrors the only thing to do is just watch him they usually last for 30 mins. You should not wake him it will make it worse I have heard. Just to be sure call your Dr to make sure this is what to do.

These are technically called "night terrors". I have nannied for two children with these. The first child turned out to have enlarged adnoids and needed to have them out. She snored a lot and the dr. said she wasn't getting enough oxygen to her brain which caused her brain to freak out and wake her with these. She had these from 2-4 before her folks took her to the doctor specifically for them. They thought she was just having nightmares. A week after surgery, they stopped and she has been a sound sleeper ever since. She is now 15yrs old
The second child didn't snore and the parents never took her to the doctor about it. Her little brother has them too, but his only happen 40 minutes after he goes to sleep when he is overtired. They we settle him back down and he goes off for the night. We found it helpful to do something like move them from bed and turn on the light, something drastic that "rouses" them, then they are consolable and you can calm them and tuck them back in. Scooping them up, as your heart tells you to, usually just makes them more frantic and screamy. They need to hear a forceful loving voice saying "It's ok, come on, come back to us, wake up please!" Most kids don't even remember you having been there
Best of luck!
A.

It might be night terrors. I know this sounds nuts but Oprah or Dr. Phil just did a show on it. Maybe you could log onto their site and read about.

Hope you figure it out. It's hard to watch our children suffer and not be able to help them. My heart goes out to you.

~Q.

Sounds like night terrors. My mother in law says not to wake your son up but to let it pass. Only hold onto him or hold him/wake him if he is going to hurt himself. Have you talked to your pediatrician about it yet?
Have there been any new changes in your house recently? Maybe he needs to see a child therapist?
Pammy
Good Luck!

Just a recommendation: Dr. Richard Ferber talks about dealing with night terrors in his book HOW TO SOLVE YOUR CHILD'S SLEEP PROBLEMS

My son had some episodes like that for a while and our doctor told us that it was "night terrors". It's like having a nightmare but they don't fully wake up, even when you are trying to comfort them. My son used to push me away and scream like he was afraid of me, and it would take a long time to wake him up, settle him down, and then get him back to sleep. Finally, I tried just letting it run its course without me comforting him, like my doctor suggested. I would peek in his room to make sure he was safe, but I didn't go in unless I could tell he was awake. Usually he would stop yelling after a few minutes and remain asleep. It was much shorter than when I tried to help him and he never remembered any of it. He grew out of that phase quickly and has only had 1 or 2 since. It's a lot more scary for parents than it is for the child!

S.,

He's just a bit young for this, but what you describe is a night terror. Although his eyes are open he is not awake. Do not try to wake him. They sometimes last up to 20min. Let the terror run it's course. Just make sure he doesn't get hurt when he is flailing around. When it is over. Wake him up. Soothe him. Put him back to sleep. Watch to see if it happens around the same time every night. Often it does. If so, then you can preempt the terror, by waking your child 15-30 minutes before it happens. It should allow him to skip over it. After doing this a few days or week, it may stop altogether. Give it a try. They do eventually grow out of them. Good Luck.

Dear S.,
Sounds like "night terrors" to me. Talk to his pediatrician about it and see if there's something that can help.

Good luck!
Pam H.
Westminster, MD

these are call night terrors and all you can pretty much do is hold your child and speak softly to him until it's over. don't try to wake him up during it.

Hi S.,

I too have a 2 yo son that does this. Not only does he do it at night, but he also has "terrors" while he takes his naps. He will start screaming & thrashing in his bed, yet he doesn't wake himself up from it. I have to carry him to the livingroom, and hold him while he calms down. As for my son, my husband & I are thinking that it is caused by lack of oxygen getting to his brain, which is altering his thoughts. We had heard about it on a documentary on the discovery channel or something a while back, and my son shows sleep apnea signs due to his enlarged tonsils. He doesn't sleep well at all. We are getting him a tonsilectomy in a couple weeks, so we were thinking that his terrors would stop after the surgery. Does your son have breathing troubles while he sleeps? I certainly hope that you can get this taken care of soon. I am sure that it is hard for him to manage while he gets poor sleep. Good luck & God bless!

My daughter did the same thing she was as little older about 3it lasted about 6 mo or so the doctor said it was night terrors and they will out grow them just comfert him and let him know it was just a dream try to talk about it in the morning. remember it is very normal at this age and he will out grow.

My son used to do this. When I asked the dr about it he said it was night terrors. With nightmares they wake up and remember what scared them, with the night terrors they don't remeber anything. They are not awake when this is going on. Some people out grow it and some have to be on medicine to control them. They have nothing to do with what they see on tv or around them.

when our daughter did it, it was around the same time every night. (2am)
we were told to gently wake her up 30 mins before she usually had them (130 am) and then have her fall back asleep and it kept them from coming.

My 3 year old does the same thing, and my 5 year old used to. I call it the twlight zone. I have read that it is like a night terror. I notice my son does it more if he is really tired. Most of the time they out grow it. I have also read that you shouldn't wake them up while they are experiencing one, but my son won't stop unless I do. The only way I can do that is by sitting him on the floor and turning the light on. If I let him sit there for a minute it is like he snaps out of it. He is still crying but is now consolable. I pick him up and hold him after that and it usually doesn't take long for him to fall back asleep. Hope this helps.

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