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my 4 year old is having night terrors....

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Old 05-13-2004, 10:20 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 74
mama2acutie HB User
my 4 year old is having night terrors....

she started having them last summer... last night she had such a bad one, it really scares me when she has one.... last night i heard loud yells, i went upstairs and thought maybe she woke up and was just being loud but she was laying on the bed with her eyes wide open and screaming at the top of her lungs, short but loud yells... she looked like something was attacking her.... so i picked her up and she was looking toward the TV and she started screaming and kicking her legs in fear and mumbling something, it didn't make any sense.... so i kept holding her and rocking her and telling her "mommy's here" and it's like she doesn't see me.... she'll look at me like she's looking through me.... like i'm not there.... well she just kept going on and on, the loud screams and her face looked terrified... then she started grabbing her *private* and i asked her if she had to go pee, she shook her head no but she wasn't awake and wasn't with it, so probably didn't understand what i said... anyway a minute later she was crying and screaming and she peed all over my lap.... she has them quite often but last night really terrified me, the way she was looking, like she was hallucinating... it's so scary and i don't know what to do... does anyone else on here have children that have night terrors?

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Old 05-13-2004, 10:52 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Utah
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Angel77 HB User
Re: my 4 year old is having night terrors....

Hi Mama,

You're not going to like the first part of this, I promise. But, part of me is screeming that she may have been molested. The whole grabbing her privates and then wetting herself is not normal, IMO. I was molested and know the terrors that come with. Is it possible that she was molested? It may have been at a friends house, by a friends older sibling, someone who's in your house regularly, etc.? If this is a possibility, first of all, don't blame yourself because they thrive by fitting in and appearing overly normal....but something needs to be looked into.

Does she have any fears in waking life of a certain person or being left in a certain situation that doesn't seem to make sense to you? Just start paying close attention. Another sign is an adult who is overly friendly w/ your daughter, tickles her a lot, near the crotch, brings gifts, etc.

Now, for the night terrors themselves. Regardless of what's causing them, it's obvious that she's in distress. I am positive that she is not truly awake when you are holding her. That's why many people who sleep walk appear awake, their eyes are open and their brain is out to lunch. I do this w/ my narcolepsy. It's called automatic behavior and happens in the day. I interact w/ people but will have no recollection because my brain is sleeping.

What has worked with my children is to talk to them when they're awake about their nightmares and give them something to fight back with. For instance, my 9 year old has helped me raise wolves and loves dinosaurs. So, when he's having a bad spell, I make sure he has Timer (our wolf who passed away) and a big T-Rex in his pj pockets. Now, they're there to fight back any bad dreams. He goes into his dreams armed and ready to fight and has the belief that he will win.

I know is sounds weird, but when it's in the sub-conscious, they'll use it to help them. I've seen it work many times for my son. I've also used this with my nephew who would wake up every night sobbing. He couldn't recall his dreams, so I "packed' his pocket w/ another wolf and T-rex, just like my son's and told him how to use them. I told him that any time something in a dream scares you, the wolf and dinosaur will know it, because they're by your heart and they'll come to your side and fight the bad guys. He hasn't woke up sobbing again.....he has however woke up grinning in the morning to tell his auntie about the fight last night! LOL

You may want to try this with something your daughter really likes or feels safe with. Also, if you have a dog, let it sleep in her room and tell her how scared bad guys are of dogs because doggies can see their hearts and scare them away. I feel for my oldest dog, because now she has to go to bed when my son does and once he's asleep, my toddler goes and snatches her to go to bed. She just walks past me and looks at me like, "Thanks, great idea you had.....well, here I go again."

Can you think of any stressors in her life that may have triggered this? Is there stress in the family, a move, a big change (even good ones can be scary, especially for wee ones), just anything....Mom, you're going to have to rack your brain. It may be normal night terrors, because they do come around this age, but it seems extreme to me.

Has she ever been able to relay a dream to you? Does she have the vocabulary to explain it to you? If not, there's something called sand-tray therapy that my counselor used with abused children who did not have the vocabulary or were too afraid to explain what they were afraid of. My friend used this with her son to find out he was molested at four years old. He took a dome, turned it upside down over a little boy and put goblins and monsters around it and said that the boy was scared because he had a secret and was told that the bad people would get him if he told.

From there, they used the secret bear. He could tell the bear things and it could tell his mom, so he never broke the secret, it was the bears fault.

I may be completely in left field, I hope I am. But, these techniques will work even with a child who hasn't been abused but is experiencing some kind of trauma, even just normal childhood trauma.

Please let me know how she's doing and keep trying. I know it's hard to watch your children hurt and not know what to do. If she does know she's having bad dreams, make sure to find something that makes her feel safe and maybe work on a "cue" to wake her from it. Maybe a cool washcloth on her forehead, a certain song that she loves, etc. Also, make sure the t.v. is off or if it must be on, put in a video or dvd that is not scary. Sometimes people will wake partially, only enough to hear bits and pieces of a show that may be scary and will start them into a horrid dream. It's worth a try.

Good luck and I hope you read this tonight so you may get through your night a little easier. You're obviously a very caring mom to try so hard to help your daughter. Again, I apologize if the first bit is offensive or worrisome, but it is unfortunately a very real problem in too many childrens' lives. I just hope this isn't the case. If you find it is, let me know and we'll pick this up on the appropriate board and I'll do what I can to help you. God bless you, Mama and your darling little angel.
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Old 05-14-2004, 10:02 AM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 74
mama2acutie HB User
Re: my 4 year old is having night terrors....

thank you for your reply and suggestions! well i am a stay at home single mom for now and i am with her 24/7 lol, when i go out, she comes with me and she is now sleeping in my bed again LOL... the possibility of being molested is basically zero chance because she's always with me and if she's not she's with my mom or sister. i do see why you raised that point though... when she needs to go pee she holds her private... and i think that she knew she needed to go pee and when i asked her she wasn't with it enough to understand what i asked... and i think she was so terrified that she peed herself... so the holding the private is normal for her when she has to pee... i just should've taken her to the toilet whether she said yes or no but i just had gallbladder removal surgery and i can't carry her yet... the other ideas you gave were very good though, i will have a talk with her.... she doesn't remember these night terrors, she remembers bad dreams when she wakes up crying from a dream, like really waking up, not what she does during the night terrors... and for a while she was scared to go to bed because she was having dreams about bugs and dirt in her eyes... we think that started last year when she got some dirt in her face outside and she was freaking out... not sure where the bugs thing came from though.... well thanks again for your suggestions, last night was night terror free.... so that's good because the 2 previous nights she had them.... thanks again!

Old 05-19-2004, 12:27 PM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 8
Amapeli HB User
Re: my 4 year old is having night terrors....

I am new to this board (have never posted before) but when I was little I had night terrors. I would be so frightened that I wouldn't sleep in my room anymore. I think your daughter just had to go to the bathroom and wasn't awake to do something about it. I wet the bed till I was in 2nd grade because I was such a sound sleeper. I was always scared that my own children would have night terrors but I don't think they do. Once my daughter had a dream about a shark. Most of my night terrors were the result of seeing something on TV and not having enough sleep or being stressed. I still have dreams now and then. All you can do is what you did and maybe talk to your doctor about it. I wonder from looking on another board if it has anything to do with seizures. My son has a mild form of Autism and recently he had an EEG and they showed some activity during the night. They talked about on the board loosing bowel control. I am just curious. I am not saying that this has anything to do with your daughter. I am just wondering if since I had such bad terrors (sleep walking, seeing things, feeling like floating, feeling like awake, not being able to move) has anything to do with brain activity. You might want to at least ask. I am going to ask the neurologist. Most of all just be there for a comfort for her and don't dismiss that this is going on. It is a real terrifying thing and I still remember those dreams. Good Luck and best wishes and big hugs to your daughter.

Old 05-23-2004, 11:12 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 466
abbygirl2 HB User
Re: my 4 year old is having night terrors....

My son had night terrors when he was small. He would wake up screaming, his eyes would be wide open and he sometimes be stiff and sometimes be floppy. I would at first try to wake him up, I didn't know if he was having a seizure or something-I was terrified. Then I became accustomed to them and just gently held him until he settled down. he was too young to really discuss them so i don't know if he ever remembered them. He outgrew them by the time he was 5 and hasn't had one since. You have been given some good advice, unfortunately I can't give you any because I didn't really do anything about them, I just thought they were bad dreams and tried to comfort him. Good luck


Old 05-26-2004, 11:01 PM   #6
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 39
Elise57 HB User
Re: my 4 year old is having night terrors....

Could she have a urinary tract infection? My youngest daughter had a few night terrors. Don't let them scare you. You need to be calm so she can be calm. It passes and they outgrow them if they have a calm and stable household. Good Luck!

Last edited by Elise57; 05-26-2004 at 11:02 PM.

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