- Wakes up within 1 to 2 hours of sleep with lots of crying.
- Eyes are often wide open, but the child is not in an awakened state.
- Screams and thrashes the hands and legs
- The child falls asleep after the episode.
- Cannot recollect anything from the next morning.
- Gets even more scared if you try to hold them for assurance.
The episodes of night terror are quite unsettling for the parents to witness. When these occurs you should not do the following:
- Do not hold your kid during such night terrors. Just be around them so to be assured if they wake up. I have personally made the mistake of holding my daughter for assurance because it was a very disturbing sight. Any restraint makes the child feel more agitated. Just stay calm.
- Do not try to wake up the child or never shake them to wake up. It terrifies them more and the episode of night terrors would sure to last long.
- If the episode of night terrors occurs for some consecutive days, then take a note of the time.It would occur almost the same time half an hour before or after. You can wake up your child before this time let him or her drink some water and then put off to sleep. Waking up helps in the transition to the sleep pattern. It had worked for me as my daughter usually was having a week of night terrors.
You can be more proactive to help in reducing the number of the episodes.Here are some simple steps to undertake.
- The number of hours of sleep is very essential. 12 to 14 hours for toddlers and 10 to 11 hours for preschoolers. Please ensure this is and creating a sleep inducing environment.
- I have stopped stories of Red Riding Wolf and stories with monsters and wars. Introduced varies simple, calm stories.Panchatantra or Aesop fable or very simple stories. The excitement of these genres of stories maybe prolong or extend even in the sleep. Children often fail to distinguish reality and stories.
- Naturopathic treatment: When the episodes of night terror occur Tulsi and honey mix warm water before night often helps in soothing anxiety and stress. Just boil 7 to 8 tulsi leaves and half tablespoon of honey and make your child drink before going to bed. It also eases a cough and bronchial blocks which may sometimes cause disturbed sleep. Week of these treatment soothes the kid.
- You can buy the timed soothing red coloured night lamps. Put it on while going off to sleep and it fades out after the 1or 2 hours.
- Introduce some soft toy characters as a guard or vigil to stay with your child while putting to sleep. For my daughter it was the Indian Cartoon chracter Chota Bheem which she beleived would ward of any monsters.
The inevitable night terror is there to remain and is is a part of growing up. Do not be panicked. It is only another of the thorns of parenthood.