5 Tips for Handling Night Terrors in Kids That Every Parent Needs to Know

Handing night terrors in kids is definitely a challenge, but with these 5 parenting tips you can help your child get a good night sleep! Check them out!

Handing night terrors in kids is definitely a challenge, but with these 5 parenting tips you can help your child get a good night sleep! Check them out!

Night terrors usually affect children between the ages of 3-12 years old. By the time they reach adolescence, the terrors have often ended, although some adults may suffer from them at times. Night terrors are defined by Dictionary.com as: “a sudden feeling of extreme fear that awakens a sleeping person, usually during slow-wave sleep, and is not associated with a dream or nightmare…”  Parents that have ever experienced night terrors in their children often do not know what to do when an episode occurs. Knowing what to look for is the first step in helping your child through one of these episodes.

Symptoms of Night Terrors in Kids

Possible symptoms of night terrors include:

  • Suddenly waking up from sleep
  • Screaming or crying after waking up
  • Terrified of an unknown source
  • Rapid breathing and racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Blood pressure elevation

There is a difference between nightmares and night terrors. Most people, kids included, can recall their nightmare or dream the next morning, but with night terrors, they are rarely ever remembered by children, it’s like they never happened.

Night terrors are said to run in some families, but can also be triggered by certain aspects of the child’s life. Below are the possible causes for night terrors in children.

  • Living in stressful environments
  • Sleeping in a new or unfamiliar place
  • Being over-tired or over-heated
  • New medications
  • Fevers
  • No bedtime routine

While not all children suffer from night terrors, it is best to be prepared just in case one occurs. Oftentimes, if a child does suffer from night terrors there will be more than one and they can continue for longer periods, but there have been cases when just one occurred and never again. When faced with night terrors, preparedness can help greatly. While there is no medical cure for night terrors, there are a few things that a parent can do when and if they happen.

How to deal with night terrors in kids

  1. Consistent bedtime routine–it is very important to have a consistent bedtime routine for your young child.
  2. Make an attempt to limit any sleep disturbances that may affect your child’s sleep.
  3. Pick up any toys or items that they could trip over or harm themselves or others with during these episodes. Create a safe area for them to sleep in.
  4. Try to reduce the amount of stress your child is exposed to in their daily life
  5. If your child suffers from frequent night terrors, seeking medical help is advised, but you can also help at home by getting an idea of when they seem to occur and waking them up 15-30 minutes before. You could even take them to the bathroom to see if they need to relieve themselves, then once they are fully awake, about 5-10 mins, have them go back to bed. This may or may not help, but it’s well worth a try.

Along with ideas to help your child cope with their night terrors, there is one thing that a parent should never do while their child is having a night terror: Never wake them up in the middle of it, they will eventually go back to sleep, you MUST let them go through it. Once they are done with the episode, then you can comfort them in a soft voice. Again, never, ever wake them up during a night terror no matter how bad it gets, unless of course, they are going to hurt themselves, which is not a frequent occurrence. No matter how horrible it is to see your child go through one, chances are high that they will not harm themselves or others.

Remember, there are many resources available should there be any concern about your child’s night terrors, be sure to use them to help.

Does your child suffer from night terrors? Are there techniques that you’ve tried and would like to share with us? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

 

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