Is My Child Having Hallucinations?

Updated on February 04, 2010
K.H. asks from Floral Park, NY
7 answers

My daughter did something last night that scared the daylights out of me. She woke up a little before 3 am saying she had a nightmare and could she sleep with me. I said yes, and we laid down in the living room, me on the big couch an her on the loveseat. A few minutes after we got settled she started freaking out saying there were flies all around me. She was jumping up and down pointing at the "flies" she said were all around me. There were no flies anywhere!!! She then asked if we could sleep in another room.

We went into my room and laid down and she again started freaking out saying there were giant spiders next to and on the bed and there were giant lady bugs by the tv hutch. Again there were no bugs. This went on for an hour and a half before she finally fell back to sleep.

She has had night terrors in the past and this was NOTHING like those episodes. She was awake, lucid and communicative. Also when she has had night terrors, she has no memory of them. She remembers what happened last night and said she forgot to tell me about the bees that were also in my bedroom. I am freaked out by this. I called the pediatrician and am waiting for them to call back.

Has anyone else ever had this happen? I don't know what to think or do.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from New York on

Dear K.,
I can understand how you feel. It was probably very puzzling for you and probably for her as well. However, I agree with the previous response that it may not be anything really bad, especially if it has happened only once or a few times and there is no other change in her behavior during the day. Mental illness usually triggers around adolescence and it would be very unlikely that at 4 years old she would have such a diagnosis.
Something that you may want to check is whether she has seen a scary movie or even an ad for a movie. Remember that what may be deemed appropriate child TV to you may be scary for a 4 year old. Is it possible that she saw something on TV that worries her. Especially with a 16 year old in the house, you may not know what she has been watching.
When I was little, I used to see floating lights or "fairies" and I used to chase them all over. Once I fell out of bed trying to grab one! Later I learned that my eyes are very sensitive to light so that I always see an after image of things, such as you would see if you stare directly at a light bulb. Perhaps you may want to check to see if she actually "sees" these things because of some issue with her eyes.
It may be a form of sleep-walking. Try to steer her towards making "friends" with the bugs she sees and help her put the bugs to bed. This may help calm her down and put her to sleep rather than trying to insist that there are no bugs there. Be aware that while she seems alert and responsive, she may actually be somewhat asleep such as in sleep-walking and actually dreaming. In that case, just try to steer her out of danger and calm her down. If it continues, since you say that she already has "night terrors" you may want to have a sleep assessment done. If it turns out to be a sleep problem, I would completely avoid for her to watch TV before bed, and encourage her to take a nice bath, read a relaxing story and/or listen to soothing music before bed. Doing a little bit of yoga with her (or at least some easy stretches) can also help her sleep much better.
Hope that this is helpful.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Knoxville on

my 9 year old also had very similar experiences when she was a toddler...she wasnt scared, but at night she would keep saying mommy look at the bees, over and over again...sometimes it would scare her some and we would have to turn the light on...she grew out of that but continues to have night terrors..about 2-3 a month...some are mild and some are severe. I can do nothing but hold her until she stops..she always says things like mommy help me help me..and sometimes her eyes will be open...scared me to death...doctors had no answers about the bees but said night terrors are very common...well, common or not, doctors need to find out what causes them. One good thing, she never remembers them. Now my 3 year old son talks to people in his room at night and now he has started talking about the bees. What is going on with the bees?

By the way...your ped will tell you to make an appt with a child psychologist....I never took her because she was really seeing these things...I think very young children can see things we cannot...and maybe they just call describe it the best way they can.



answers from New York on

Dear K., I have heard of night terrors but not of what you describe. I too will be interested in seeing the other mom's responses. Grandma Mary



answers from New York on

has she been watching some movies with your older child? I think it sounds like she saw a scary movie you might not have been aware she saw I would ask your son.
Good luck!
From H.



answers from Albany on


What you describe is very familiar to me. I spent all last last trying to deal with my four year old who appeared to be awake but was telling me all about fairies, webs and xmas decorations in the room. After about an hour or so, it got worse and she saw bugs on her etc. She then became very distressed. I tried getting up with her, giving her warm milk and a cookie, to 'break the spell' as I call it, but it continued.

Then I gave her some paracetamol and also rescue remedy. Eventually, she wore herself (and us) out and slept.

She wasn't sick, had no temperature and this has happened once before. These hallucinations were all very vivid and elaborate and lasted a long time (it felt like a long time for me!)

My daughter is very energetic, intelligent and articulate and I am really out of ideas about this. All I can think is that these episodes were a product of her very fertile imagination. She is otherwise very healthy and good humoured. I've decided not to worry about it. Perhaps it's a form of sleep-walking/lucid dreaming that very creative, intelligent kids are susceptible to. That feels probable, knowing her as I do.

That answer about the soothing bedtime routine and no TV was spot-on, I'm sure.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

My son is 2 years old and had three episodes about bugs all over him, me and the bed. No bugs were around. In fact, the only time i have ever seen one in the house is if it flew in the door in the summer. It is mid winter now. I first assumed the first two episodes were related to a fever because he is sick but the last one he had no temperature. Please tell me what your pediatrician says. My husband and I are freaked out over this.



answers from New York on

Hi K.,

I really don't think you need to worry. From what I understand, in adults, auditory halluncinations bring up questions about psychiatric illness, but visual hallucinations are less often related to psychiatric illness. I'm pretty sure they go along with fevers, drug use and in rare cases result from a neurological problem. In kids, I'm pretty sure hallucinations are much more common and usually not indicative of anything serious. Kids also tend to have more trouble determining what is real and what is not real. Were the lights on or off? I truly don't think you need to worry. Do a search for children and hallucinations and I bet you will feel reassured that it is nothing to worry about.


K. (mom to Charlie, 3 years old)