S.S. asks from Windsor, CA on April 23, 2008
7 Year Old Having Night Terrors
About 4 years ago my son began having these aweful episodes, which I assumed were nightmares, where we can't calm him down. He sees things and yells at us to watch out and his body is shaking so badly that I literally need to wrap myself around him, and he still shakes. It's almost like sleep talking but this child is in a panic and so scarred he almost vomits. Our doctor says what my son has are night terrors, a mild form of night terrors. I eliminated a lot of television and video games, yet they continue. Not as often but they do.
I would like to know if there are any other parents out there going through this and if they have any advice on how to prevent or ease these episodes. It's not like he remembers anything in the morning but it sure is scary.
M.W. answers from San Francisco on April 24, 2008
I have no personal experience with this, but someone told me that sleeping with a blue nightlight really worked for their kids.
W.R. answers from San Francisco on April 24, 2008
M.P. answers from San Francisco on April 24, 2008
My son had night terrors for a while. One episode was really bad and I could not wake him. He looked like he was awake because his eyes were open, but he couldnt focus on who I was. It was really scary. You can't prevent them. They just seem to happen. All I could do was hold him until he stopped shaking and screaming. One thing that helped was when he started crying I would walk him to the bathroom and help him go potty. It seems strange, but it helped (except for the time I mentioned before). I dont think cutting TV out completely will help. My son watches mostly Sponge Bob. I doubt that is what was giving him nightmares. The doctors wont do anything. Its just something the kids outgrow. Good luck.
S.D. answers from San Francisco on April 24, 2008
My son who is now 8 years old went through night terrors when he was about 3-6, we partnered with his peditrictian as well as a prayer group at our church and we have not had any night terrors since about 6 maybe 6 1/2. I did a lot of research regarding night terrors. We even started watching what we were watching as parents and not having on when he was awake ex-News, C.S.I. type shows, ect.and watching what we were even reading to him, but the most important was partnering with his doctor. We still to this night pray every night before he goes to bed and ask God to watch over him and whatever may try to go through his mind or dreams, that nothing that is not of God be allowed to enter. Good luck, I know it is hard as a parent when we want to take all the bad stuff away but we are not always able.It is very important that you try not to interfer for your and his safety, I was advised not to touch him while he was really voilently acting out unless he was in danger of hurting himself. I do highly recommend that you partner with his doctor because night terrors for some children is not just a phase that goes away. Again good luck and my prayers are with you and covering your son.
L.W. answers from Sacramento on April 24, 2008
When he wakes up and you go to him, have him say a little bit of what the dream is about. THEN have him say: "I am going in to other people's fears and helping them wake up. This is not my dream."
Before he goes to sleep, have him say, "I am safe and my family is safe, so I can sleep easy"
or if you want "the angels are protecting our family" something like that. By doing this every night you set the subconscious to work doing something constructive and it bumps out of the looping rut into the smooth groove (if you remember record players).
L.C. answers from Sacramento on April 24, 2008
My daughter once in a while wakes up in the middle of the night and is shaking. The first thing I do is reassure her that she is OKAY. Next, I take her hand and we walk around the house, and we talk about something to get her mind off the shaking. Diverting her attention to something else stops the shaking the fastest. Keeping her in one position only exacerbates the shaking. I have had episodes of waking up shaking, and that is what has worked best for me. Just walking around and telling myself to relax. Also, thinking about something that makes me feel calm. In the past, the shaking has lasted up to two hours. But now that I know nothing is wrong with me, I just walk around and tell myself I am okay and RELAX. The shaking stops pretty quickly.
M.J. answers from Sacramento on April 23, 2008
Our son went through about a year of off and on night terrors when he was four. You definitely can't do anything once a child is having them. We'd just wait in the room with him to make sure he didn't hurt himself, but learned not to try to hold him or comfort him because it didn't matter.
I honestly don't know if you can prevent them. We never figured out what triggered them, if anything. They were pretty random. They finally just stopped and knock on wood, we haven't had any episodes for about a year now.
M.B. answers from San Francisco on May 07, 2008
My son went through a few episodes like you describe as well. Unfortunately he remembered in the morning and even still today. It was probably one of the most disturbing things I have experienced as a parent. My son also was shaking like I had never seen before, even in my bed with me cradling him in my arms. He insisted there were ninjas in the light fixture above my bed, and that they were throwing bombs at us. Eventually we just had to sleep with the light on.
Anyways, I happened to tell my massage therapist about the episode one day during my massage. Now you have to know, John is a little bit out there, but I usually follow his advice. He hasn't been wrong yet. What he said to me made perfect sense. He told me to take any type of fantasy/ wizardry out of his audio/visual environment. Therefore no Harry Potter, no shows having to do with faeries or fantasy lands, no video games that portray any of the such as well. According my masseur, he says there is a whole other world out there, and that children are more acceptable to it because of their innocence. They have the ability to see good things,(like when my son visits my grandmother in his sleep, yet when he is awake knows nothing about her. She died when he was a year old. I know he visits her only because he talks and laughs with her and another friend of mine who died around the same time, while he is sleeping. So on the same note that they can bring something good "out", a child who is sleeping can also let bad or evil things cross over into his world. They can't control the bad stuff to make it go back. Therefore the extreme night terrors. They can't stop what they have started and it scares them to death. Luckily for most children, this is all taking place while they are still asleep, even if they look and act awake. I know you are probably thinking I am a nut case right about now, and I'd probably agree with you 100%. Even as I type these words to you I feel a bit nutty and apprehensive to even forward them on to you. But I followed my friend's advice, and you know what it worked! He hasn't had not a single night terror since. Not even a bad dream. It's funny too because I consider myself the G-rated mom, and only have age appropriate videos and books for my son. I won't even get cable or satellite for reasons like this! He was given the Harry Potter books as a gift from his cousin at 9yrs old and the entire movie set from my client. I had never even let him watch past the first video because I thought it was too much for him to process even at 9yrs old. Bottom line take a closer look at what your son watches on the tv and the type of books he looks at, even at 7yrs old, books his level have been known to have a bit of witchcraft now and then. I'm really not nuts, just open minded and always open to trying something new if it might help, even if it seems a bit/ ok alot out there! What have you got to lose, but those bad horrible dreams right? Good luck to you I hope all works out well.
P.C. answers from San Francisco on April 24, 2008
eliminate all tv...makes a huge difference in kids lives.P.
M.P. answers from San Francisco on April 24, 2008
Hi. my daughter has had those since she was 2 years old. She is now 8 years old. You have to let them go through it on their own for your safety. Only step in if they are about to hurt them selves. Just rub their backs and assure them they are safe. My daughter got them from trauma. It had nothing to do with tv. It had to do with sexual assult while in the hospital for type 1 diabetes. She was just diagnosed. You may have to put your child on a mild sedtive (anxiety pill) before bed to keep him calm and relaxed. Only do that if they continue and or they become severe where hes endangering himself or hurting himself. Good luck. Try a warm bath before bed to calm him. Put bedtime bath in it or have him wash with johnson and johnson bedtime bath. Good luck, M. Petersen
D.F. answers from San Francisco on April 26, 2008
My little boy had these from very young, just a few months old, to about 2 and 1/2 years old. We always attributed it to a difficult birth, he was 10 weeks premature, and in the hospital for a month after birth. It never seemed to be about 'bad dreams', there didn't seem to be content to his agitation, just screaming, and aimless agitated walking around when he was old enough to walk.
They stopped completely after two sessions of NMT, (neuromodulation technique). We used the following practitioner -
Sutherland Chiropractic Clinic
Vikki Sutherland, DC
2635 Cleveland Ave, Suite 1
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
If you do a search you can probably find someone local to you who does this technique. I would imagine that biofeedback would also be helpful, or HANDLE work, anything that works with repatterning the neural pathways. Prayer can do this kind of repatterning, too. It does seem to be related to a glitch in the nervous system.
BTW, my little guy is also gluten sensitive, which we didn't know at that time, could have been a contributing factor? Gluten definitely agitates his nervous system.
Anyway, good luck, I know how heartbreaking it is to watch your child in such distress. Even if you don't 'treat it' it's likely to work itself out as his nervous system matures. Although, I've known some adults who have night terrors, so it doesn't always.