Tag Archives: night terrors

Things you don’t know about parenting until you try it Number 63: Night Terrors.

2012-11-06-153One of the surrealist things about having kids is night terrors.

McMini is getting over a sick bug and has a slight temperature so it was pretty much a given that he’d have one. They are also more likely to happen to very active children and McMini is extremely active. He started crying in that certain way and I went upstairs and found him sitting in bed shaking with fear, sobbing his eyes out and staring at something only he could see. Normally I talk to him, sometimes he responds, sometimes I just sit with him to make sure he’s OK and reassure him when he wakes up.

“Mummy…” crying.
“It’s alright mate,” doing the special calm voice, “I’m here. What’s up?”
“Where am I?”
“You’re in bed. Are you scared?”
“Yes,” sobbing, “but Mummy, can’t you see them?”
“The Power Rangers lined up in front of the curtains.”
“I’m afraid I can’t.”
“Why not?” still sobbing.
“Because you’re asleep mate and I’m not in the dream with you.”
“Yeh. It’s OK you’ll wake up in a minute.”
“Will I?”
“Yes. Are you scared.”
“I’m not surprised, I would be too but don’t worry, you’re just having a night terror. Would it help to sit on my lap until you wake up?”
“Yes please.”
McSmall climbs on lap.
“What’s a night terror?”
“A very vivid type of dream. I still get them sometimes. Mine are when I can see the room I’m in but I hear a noise which I know is not real (but is still very scary). To be honest you probably won’t remember this when you wake up. Do you want a drink of water?”
“No thanks.”
“Sure? It’d be nice and cold on your throat, might wake you sooner.”
A beat. McMini stops sobbing abruptly.
“What are you doing here?”
“Ah, have you just woken up?”
“Yes. Why am I on your lap?”
“You got on here.”
“I don’t remember.”
“That’s OK, you wouldn’t you were asleep. You’ve just had a night terror that’s all. D’you remember what you were dreaming about?”
“Well, it sounded very exciting because while you were asleep you told me it had power rangers in it.”
“D’you want to hop back into bed now?”
“Yes please.”
“Right o.”
I hug him and give him a kiss.
“Night kiddo.”

Night terrors. So surreal. If you’re little one is having them fear not. I found a few things on the NHS website which helped me feel more relaxed about it so I thought I’d share them:

  1. It’s scary for sure but try not to freak out. This is easier if you can remember having them yourself. Just sit with the child, hold them if it seems to help. Speak calmly to them if it helps you – sometimes they talk back quite lucidly and calmly, even if they’re crying their eyes out.
  2. Their eyes may well be open.
  3. It’s NORMAL, don’t worry, your small one is fine. It’s basically, a normal nightmare but at a different stage of the sleep cycle.
  4. It’s tempting to wake them but most pundits agree you should let the terror run its course. It will take anything from 5 to 30 minutes if our own experience with McMini is anything to go on.
  5. They are more likely to happen when your small person is extra tired, has a fever, and is going to sleep more deeply. They can also be caused by things that are likely to wake them up, excitement or sudden noise, for example the huge firework some complete bastard let off outside our house just before tonight’s terror started.
  6. Once the attack is over, if they start sleeping peacefully again, it’s often useful to wake them as this can break the cycle and stop them having another one.


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