13 Answers

Hi everyone. My son is 4 and the last couple of weeks he has been having really bad night terrors. How can I make this better or make it go away. It’s heartbreaking seeing him like that and I don’t know what to do. Does he need help or can I help him somehow. Thanks in advance.

Posted by cornell85, 3rd August 2014

Want more real mum questions sent to you?

You'll need to check this email to complete your signup.
Ask your question
  • While there is very little you can do during a night terror episode, there are some general strategies for helping children who get night terrors.

    During the night terror episode, stay calm and don’t touch your child unless they are going to hurt themselves. Efforts to settle or help your child often make the episode worse.
    Keep your house safe at night time. Lock windows and doors, and clear the bedroom floor of objects so they don’t step on things or trip over.
    Have a regular sleep time with a good bedtime routine to avoid your child becoming too tired.
    Don’t make a big fuss about the night terror the next day. Children – and their brothers or sisters – can often become upset by your reaction and may become anxious about going to bed.

    If your child is going away overnight to camp or a friend’s place, warn the people caring for your child that they may have night terrors. Give them a fact sheet. Make sure that your child has a good sleep routine before going away.

    When to see a doctor

    Your child may need to see your GP if:

    the night terrors are very violent and there is a risk of injury to your child or yourself
    the night terrors are happening a lot and disturbing the family’s sleep
    your child is very sleepy during the day.

    Your GP may refer you to a paediatrician or sleep specialist.

  • I think it’s something that he will hopefully grow out of but if your worried maybe seek medical advise such as a child psych.

  • i once had this when i was a kid…i remember this so badly…… thats when my dad held my hand and said whenever you dream something bad…just recite Lord’s name in your mind…you’ll feel good in just a second…….. i thought to myself, how would i remeber all this when im sleeping…. but sure enough the next time it happened, i sub conciously took Lord’s name…and my dad was right………… just be very confident when u say it to ur bub…. he needs to get the reassurance that YES this will work…


  • Hello you poor thing my best friends daughter used to get night terrors the only thing i can suggest is monitor as much as you can to see if anything is triggering these terrors games,books,tv etc if you cant find a pattern i would speak to a doctor good luck x

  • I fortunately i have never had this problem, but my sister did and it was on the nights where the lad was watching television before bed! We have a rule that the children do not watch TV after 4pm and we play outside then bathe before dinner. After dinner we snuggle chat and read stories before bed. I leave a solar powered night light on and we don’t have problems with shadows etc.

  • I would ask your GP for help with this one.

  • Hi there,
    My 6 year old still suffers with regular night terrors and we have found they are more likely to occur when he is over-heated. As such we try to keep his room cool. We also discovered they tend to happen within the first sleep cycle ( 40 minutes after going to sleep). With this in mind we would gently rouse him around 30 minutes then let him go back to sleep, which seemed to prevent them for that night.
    Finally, a lot of people say you shouldn’t wake them ,but after some trial- and -error, we discovered waking him while having a night terror seemed to work better for all of us. To make sure he is awake we ask him questions such as “what’s the dogs name?”, “who are your brothers?” etc I too would suggest keeping a diary and see if you can spot any triggers as all kids are different. My older son had them when he was younger too, but has now outgrown them, so don’t despair, they will eventually end, and no matter how bad the night terror is, they never remember them, unfortunately us parents do! Take care :)

  • We went through night terrors with my son for years, I feel your concern. Firstly I will say they did end. He would scream and see things and I can remember one time he must have been dreaming that he was being hurt because he kept grabbing his tummy and screaming like someone was punching him there, it was so distressing for everyone. Sometimes I would have to finish acting out the dream for him, because his eyes were open and he was talking to us but the dream was still going on, so we would do things like..open the door and kick the monster out of the house etc etc. and then he would settle. Things that I can suggest are: make sure he goes to bed with an empty bladder, also caramel can be a nightmare problem if eaten at night and talk to a doctor if it goes on and on… hopefully it’s a stage that he will pass through quickly.

  • I was going to say the same thing as Linda.
    Keep a diary of everything he eats, drinks and what activities you do, tv shows he watches and who you spend time with.
    See if any patterns start to form

  • It could be caused by a number of things, keep a diary for the next week of what he eats, what he does during the day, napping times during the day, how much TV he has especially evenings as it stimulates the brain & can leave impressions long enough for him to dream about it. He might be overtired or over stimulated before bed. What time of the night does it start, if early then it is likely to be something caused by food or day activities giving him bad dreams. Night terrors are not uncommon & 1 of my kids ended up in my bed many nights which seemed to calm him down but not everyone wants their child in their bed. Did you or his father have night terrors or sleepwalk as kids because it can be something that runs in families, night terrors are usually in kids aged 3 to 12 years old & they are not actually awake when they start crying out. Let it happen naturally without forcing him to wake up because it will only add to their distress. I used to sleepwalk when I was 8 yrs old & was a problem because we lived in multi storey units so the door had to be locked properly. An article that might help explain it better is: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/night-terrors/Pages/Introduction.aspx

  • It could possibly be food related, for instance eating too much dairy in the evening has been known to give you bad dreams. Also need to have some more relaxation for better sleep. Try some lavender oil on his pillow.

  • Hi, I had the same thing with my 4 year old son a few months ago. It is awful to watch and I felt so helpless. After trying many different approaches I found that the best thing to do was to just sit beside his bed until he calmed down. If I tried to talk to him or hug him or console him in any way it would just make it worse. By doing this he seemed to come out of the episodes much quicker. This might not work for everyone but it might be worth a try. You could also speak to your Maternal and Child Health Nurse who might have some helpful advice.

Post you answer
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Add a photo
Your MoM account

Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your answer and join MoM:

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just a star rating?

Write A Rating Just A Star Rating