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  • Post last modified:May 17, 2020
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toddler wakes up screaming
This post started with the question from a mom about why her toddler wakes up screaming every night. I answered and then the comments started rolling in. A lot of young toddlers wake up at night! If you recognize the situation, take a moment to read and also share your own situation!

Mom’s Question:
My toddler will be 3 years old in March and right now he wakes up every night between midnight and 4 am screaming as loud as he can.

A few nights when I go get him, he screams that he wants to watch the Doodlebops. Other nights she screams he wants to go outside and play. He screams non-stop for a good hour and NOTHING will calm him down.

What can I do?

He has been on a strict routine since he came home from the hospital, so nothing has changed about his daily lifestyle. He goes to bed every night between 8 and 9 pm and he still takes a 2-3hr nap every afternoon.

He also talks/walks in his sleep if that makes any difference.

Thanks, Pamela

Baby Helpline:

Screaming Toddler At Night – Night Terrors Or Not And A Few Tips

It sounds like an exhausting time for you! It is really hard to know what is going on in the minds of our young children.

Sleep time is the time we process all the events of the day, the time we connect back into our inner wisdom and dreaming is a really important part of that process. It sounds like your son is working pretty hard at night!

It’s difficult for me to say what might be underlying it all, and it sounds like you have good routines in place for bedtime, etc.

Sleep talking and walking are all a part of his brain not quite having the boundaries in place that we normally do when going to sleep. So it is giving his body messages to partly act out what is happening in his dreams, ie talking, walking somewhere.

Regarding sleep walking, apart from keeping him safe – barriers over stairs and locks on the doors for example – it is not something to be unduly worried about. He may grow out of it, although some adults still sleepwalk!

Let’s take a look at the possible reasons that your toddler wakes up screaming, and how to act depending on the situation.

Night terrors or nightmare

Regarding the screaming, since her sleeping is so chaotic, when she wakes up, she is probably trying to gain some power and control. This is actually a good thing, however, as a parent you obviously don’t want her watching TV or playing outside at night. Nor do you want to have to keep getting up to her.

As long as you are able to contact her at all during her screaming, she is awake.

Another possibility is night terrors, which are quite common in 2 to 6-year-olds. Children usually grow out of them by age 8.

Night terrors are different from nightmares, in that the child may appear awake, but is not rational, may scream or be frightened but not be consolable. Children don’t usually have much recollection of the event the next day except for your disapproval at being woken!

Children with night terrors, often don’t recognize their parents or demand unreasonable or unusual things – like needing to go outside.

I’ll go into some tips on how to handle night terrors below.

Tips for handling the night screaming that is NOT night terror

If your toddler is not having night terrors, i.e. you can make contact with her while she is screaming, you can try to talk to your daughter during the day and get her agreement to learn a new way of sleeping. Including her in the process teaches her that she can learn self-control. Have her choose a power toy that will help her sleep the whole night (it might be a doodlebop if they have toy versions!).

Together with her, come up with a little ritual she and the power toy can do in the night to put her back to sleep. You might be surprised by what she comes up with. Giving her a torch can be a useful power tool!

Have a reward system so she gets a gold star, or doodlebug sticker on a chart for every night she puts herself back to sleep. After a week she can earn something bigger.

Expect setbacks, she won’t master it all at once. When you do have to go to her, use the power toy to ask “how would Deedee help you go back to sleep?”. If she screams, try to involve the power toy in calming her down. Distraction and a calm mom or dad will usually help an angry toddler settle a lot faster than an upset parent!

And how to handle night terrors

If you do believe your daughter is having night terrors, then one thing to try is to register at what time of the night the screaming usually starts. Then you can try waking her up about 15 minutes before every night for a week to break the “habit”. This might make the terror go away.

There is evidence that children who are not getting enough sleep or if there has been a major event in the family (a death, a birth, divorce, moving house, etc) are more prone to night terrors.

So if you think your toddler might be getting a bit less sleep than she or he really needs, try to lengthen either night sleep or naps. You can find a sleep schedule from newborn to toddler here.

There is also some research that suggests that co-sleeping can mitigate terrors, so that can also be worth trying for a while.

Other than that, just be with your toddler and wait them out. Make sure they don’t hurt themselves. There is no point in trying to wake them or discipline during night terrors, just be patient and try to reassure the child until it is over.

Aand of course, if you can, make sure they don’t wake up siblings. If possible, keep your toddler’s sleeping place as far as possible from siblings if they are disturbed by the screaming.

This can be a very exausting situation. Take turns at night if you are two adults in the household and remember that it will pass!

And check for sleep apnea

Although uncommon, babies and toddlers can also suffer from sleep apnea, which is when they stop breathing all of a sudden at night. This can also trigger a very restless sleep and frequent night-wakings.

If you listen carefully and your daughter stops breathing for a little while; take notes and schedule a doctor’s appointment to discuss the matter.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea in toddlers are snoring, sweating at night and breathing mostly through the mouth both day and night. You don’t mention any of these symptoms, so this is probably not relevant for your daughter.

Despite the sleep deprivation and screaming, make sure you enjoy your time with your little toddler, she will grow out of the night time screaming and you will get a proper night’s sleep again!

PS. This online course on positive parenting has great tools for toddler sleep issues, as well as tantrums and lots of other behaviors. It is a great course! They also offer completely free webinars, so be sure to check it out!

Book tips for Toddler Sleep

More Toddlers Waking Up At Night


An evolutionary perspective on night terrors
What are night terrors and why do they happen?

Find comments below.


Aug 24, 2016 Toddler Wakes Up Crying and Hitting
by: Bob Loblaw

I’m thinking (hoping) my 2-year-old is only suffering night terrors too. He sleeps with us and normally sleeps like a rock. Very often, however, he will wake up screaming and crying and is inconsolable. When we try to talk to him or touch him he just screams louder and hits us. Recently, the hitting has come even though we aren’t saying ot doing anything. He just wakes up and starts repeatedly slapping his mom or I. The other day, he did this out of nowhere and then went into the bathroom and stood in a corner. I continued to pretend I was asleep and figured he’d come to bed. All of a sudden, he walked back in the room and began spitting at me. All with no provocation. The only thing that seems to break the spell is to sing the Dora the Explorer theme song. This eventually gets through, calms him down, and lulls him back to sleep.

If it helps at all, he’s always been very active in his sleep. Even as a baby, he would “sleep crawl” into his crib rails, banging his head repeatedly but not waking up. Once he learned to talk, he began talking and laughing in his sleep. Does anyone know if these other behaviors: hitting, spitting, and getting out of bed are related to night terrors as well?

Jan 14, 2017 screaming 2 and 1/2 years old daughter

by: sisamika

my daughter is 2 and 1/2 years old and she will wake up each and every single night screaming and shouting. we’ll bring her to our bed since she shares her bedroom with her 15 months brother and obviously we wouldn’t want them both to be awake at 3 in the night. She will keep on screaming for like 2 hours in a row and constantly asking to go out of our room to the sitting room, there’s absolutely no way of making her come back to bed, no cuddling, no soothing, we’ve even tried getting angry with her, nothing will do and the neighbors keep asking us if everything is all right. I don’t need to say that we’re exhausted and my husband has to wake up at 6.30 every morning. we’re going crazy and honestly fear for her lungs (she screams so hard it’s ear breaking). any solutions anyone???

Feb 10, 2017 might help
by: Anonymous

we have went through this with our 4 yr old just recently and about a yr ago. we tried everything and I’m pretty sure its the medication she is on. she has allergies and we put her on zyrtec. she became a horror. screaming with rapid mood swings. we took her off of it and she was back to normal. then in November the doctor put her on singular and she was ok on it for a little while. now she is acting the same and we are taking her off of that too. so if anyone is having these problems look at any medications they take. if you look side effects up on any of these two drugs it will scare you to death.

Feb 18, 2017 Does anyone have a idea why this is going on?
by: jaimies

It’s ‘nice’ (in a strange sense of the word) to see that we are not the only people going through this, but sad to see no one has any insight into this. Our 2 yr old DD does the same thing. She will wake up screaming for Mommy or Daddy, but when we go in to console her she bursts into a fit of rage…throwing anything in arms reach, biting, screaming, pinching, and screaming while sobbing. Trying to console her just fuels the flame. I try to hold and rock her as she flails about until she’s too tired to keep going. By that time she just wants to cuddle and be held. During the daytime she ,does have similar fits. We are at our wits end…..

Mar 04, 2017 Veteran mom of night terrors
by: mommy of 2

sounds like your kids are having night terrors. my daughter had them almost every night for almost one year…i nursed her thru them so i wouldn’t wake up the whole house….then when i weaned her (after I thought my boobs would fall off), the terrors got worse. we actually taped one for evidence in case a neighbor called to report us to social services as she would scream, “stop it mommy. no! no!” as she sat up in bed screaming. it broke my heart to see her and hear her. the best cure is make sure their sleep routine is kept and that they are getting enough sleep. anytime we changed her bedtime or put her down late, she would get one about an hour or two after we put her down. my doctor was such an idiot, he told me she was just strong willed. then when i figured out it was night terrors, (by researching on the internet), he told me I should take her to a psychiatrist, bcuz she must have witnessed something violent in our home. What an idiot!! That is NOT what causes sleep terrors in toddlers. It has to do with them not being able to transition out of REM cycle, and so when they wake up they are really still asleep. It is soooooo hard to deal with. My heart goes out to you who are dealing with this. My daughter outgrew them by 3 and a half and only has them a couple times a year now. there were nights I thought I would lose my mind. Be strong and hang in there…it won’t last forever!!

Mar 27, 2017 sleeping is no option

by: jackie

my Grandson is 2 years old and poor baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying and screaming to the top of his lungs. the first hour or so he fights with his blankets and throws his pillow or his sippy cup. just to only scream louder because he done it. he kicks and points to things that he seems to want, but when I give them to him. he doesn’t want it anymore. so after that phase. he then on to wanting me to hold him, I try to put he pushes me away.but when back of he screams out, and wants me to pick him up. at the beginning of this out burst I don’t think he knows what he’s doing which I think might be night terrors.but like i said after hour or so of doing this he knows who i am and what he’s doing he can see me and follow me holds his arms out and knows what i’m saying this last for another hour or so. now he’s fully awake wanting to get up and play or something but when i let him go he sits down on the floor kicking and screaming and the process starts all over again,he has done this for over 3 weeks now every night I can rest a sure he’s going to start screaming and thrashing his parents are nearby also but he responds to me the best when he goes through this whatever it is.

Sometimes i think he just spoiled and wants his way. At first, I think he is really having night terrors but after a while he s fully awake and wants to do his own thing .. I don’t know what to do for him. help me please. granny lost in iowa

Mar 29, 2017 OMG me too!

by: Bernie

My little man turned 2 in January and has been doing this on and off for the last six months or so. I thought it was trapped wind, he always looked like he was in pain. I wish I could put my finger on what it was. It could be trapped wind, night terrors, he’s also cutting molars at the moment. So how do you know which one is causing it.

He too is inconsolable, goes rigid like a board if you try to pick him up. Kicks and screams, even throws himself on the floor if I try to put him on the couch with me. Asks for me if Dad comes to help, but then when I go to him, he says no, no, no. Throws his beloved ruggie and his bottle of milk which used to help settle him. Sometimes the crying can last for 40 minutes.

Is it possible for them to get these terror things through the day? I experienced one in the day for the first time today. He went down for his nap really late today at 2.15pm (he normally goes down at about 12ish but I’ve been having massive troubles settling him in the day) and I went to wake him at 4pm and it all started.

I hate that I can’t help him. I just have to sit there and watch him look like he’s in pain :(

Mar 30, 2017 How early can night terrors start?
by: Michelle

My daughter is 19 months old, and whilst she’s never been a great sleeper, the last week or so she has been waking through the night in an angry and hysterical state. I can’t calm her in the cot and when I pick her, she cracks it, screams louder, won’t let me comfort her and goes rigid. If I put her on the floor she flails around screaming hysterically. The only thing that seems to work is distracting her with a book. She then calms and tends to fall asleep with me holding her. Could these be night terrors? Is it teething? I’m at my wit’s end!! A week or so of broken sleep is starting to take its toll.

It’s been helpful reading other people’s experiences and I’m glad I’m not alone. Certainly doesnt make it any easier though.

Apr 04, 2017 reassuring
by: Anonymous

It’s reassuring to see all these comments, my 2.5 yr old woke last night with all these symptoms described, screaming the place down, eyes wide with rage and anger and hitting out at me at every opportunity. When I tried to comfort or touch in any way it got worse and everything offered was thrown to the floor and then screamed he wanted it then when offered screamed that he didn’t want it, seemed very confused and almost possessed and despite actively trying to hit me, if I tried leaving the room he yelled out for me in distress. It was the most frightening thing and I can’t believe some people have to deal with this on a nightly basis.
He has been a good sleeper for a long time and this has only happened once before when he’d been ill with a high fever for a few days and sleep pattern and general routine was disturbed anyway, told gp and they didnt say anything about night terrors but i do remember reading about them a while back.
This past week we had been away and his routine was disturbed and he got much less sleep than usual and had a cold so I am hoping this is what brought it on and that keeping to routines will help avoid these scary attacks.

Apr 05, 2017 night terrors??
by: Anonymous

OH wow its like reading my own recent life story here. My son, 26 months has been ‘waking’ at night for the last 2 weeks and is completely inconsolable. He screams, bites, pinches,kicks, asks for things like snacks and to go play and then changes his mind. The only thing I can think of that triggered this is that he was very sick the 4-5 days prior and wasn’t sleeping because he was stuffed up. Lack of sleep does strange things to people I suppose but this is just frightening. I am sure he is not fully awake but now he is so tired during the day due to this that he is unbearable. Any advice folks?

Apr 07, 2017 anyone try melatonin?
by: SleeplessInSeattle

We’re going through the same thing. My little boy (31 mos) has been doing this since he was little more than 1 yr. He was NEVER a good sleeper- in fact, I don’t think we’ve ever gotten more than a 5 hr stretch out of him, and that’s pretty rare. But not only does he wake up about 2-3 hrs after going to bed, kicking, screaming, beating his head on the wall (even screams “help me, daddy!!!”), sitting up in bed, thrashing, and finally walking to another room…..but he does it multiple times at night to where we’re getting MAYBE 1-2 hours sleep in any given stretch after the first 2-3 hours!!!! We’re beyond feeling bad for the child. When I talk about this, people typically express their concern as: “Oh, the poor baby sounds so scared.” And I’m thinking, “You don’t GET IT!!! My husband and I have to go to work. We have to act like we can think! The worst part is that I have turned positively crazy during these awakenings. It’s like torture. I have yelled and screamed myself. In fact, my husband and I have had a million fights at 3 am in the last couple of years. Someone is ALWAYS on the couch and that person doesn’t necessarily sleep any better- they just don’t have to attend to the child as much (who ends up in our bed without fail). I am beyond “wit’s end,” believe me. Our naturopath has the boy on Melissa Supreme (Gaia Herbs) for kids, we’ve tried all of the Calms Forte and chamomile and valerian, etc, but all these treatments affect is the quality of the first stretch of sleep. So he’ll sleep a little deeper that first couple of hours (did I mention that this kid is the lightest sleeper on the face of the planet?) but wakes up just as many times at night. And no, he’s not hungry, and yes, he naps during the day and THERE’S NOTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY GOING ON IN HIS LIFE.

Apr 07, 2017 Me again!

by: Bernie

I was talking to my hairdresser on the weekend and she was telling me how her kids have done the same thing, she also told me it gets worse before it gets better….sigh.

She also mentioned that the chiropractor might help as that it helped minimize her little one’s episodes.

I can’t believe there are some of you that have a few a night and have to function and work the next day, that must be so awful. I know how I am after a few rough nights, but that constant broken sleep is just torture. It can lead to depression and just affect everything in your life. You sound like you need some respite. Does your little one sleep in the day? I know my man seems to have them more when he skips his naps or has them too late.

I wish I could help more :(

Apr 17, 2017 screaming toddler me too has one!

by: cassie

My daughter is 3 and has a screaming outburst which can last 25mins at a time, normally between 11pm and 3am. Yes she wakes up screaming, demanding a bottle but wont take it, yells out GO AWAY, wants mum then wants dad etc, her eyes roll back like shes possessed hey. very scary. When she does stop and settle we asked what was wrong she wont talk about it, She has people in her room we cant see, not sure if spirits or not? Please help me with advise.

Apr 19, 2017 Night terrors

by: Paula (Baby Help Line)

Hi Cassie,

It sounds like you daughter is having night terrors. They are quite common for children between 2 and 6 years. It can be very scary for the parents or caregivers, but the children usually don’t remember any of it afterward. Night terrors are similar to nightmares, so your daughter might very well be “seeing” people et cetera, but she is not awake, even if her eyes are open. She really is dreaming. The difficult thing with night terrors is that it is very hard to wake the child up. It is usually better to try to stay calm and comfort the child as much as possible without trying to wake him or her up.

Most children grow out of night terrors. One thing you can try is to really make sure that your daughter gets enough sleep – night terrors seem to some extent to be related to the child being over-tired. Another possibility is to wake your child up before the time that the terrors usually start, to disturb the sleep cycle and hence prevent the night terrors.

If you find that the terrors are very frequent and it doesn’t help to for example put your child to bed a little bit earlier and/or wake her up slightly, discuss the matter with your child’s Dr or health nurse.

Above all, don’t be afraid that there is something wrong with your daughter! She is not crazy or possessed!

Warm wishes,


Apr 26, 2017 Not mine but neighbours
by: Peter Hobbs

Is this behaviour unstoppable/untreatable? My neighbour’s 20-monthold has been waking screaming 95% of the time at 5am for the last 8 months. His screams are heard through 3 brick walls. Parents say they have tried everything including putting him to be as later as 7.30pm, but nothing works.

My wife now wants us to move as our sleep is so badly disrupted it is affecting her health. Our 4 children never did anything like this, so it’s not that I’m not sympathetic, but simply have no knowledge of this sort of thing.

Should we move or will the screaming stop?

Jun 29, 2017 Night Terrors

by: Anonymous

Our 3 1/2 yr old has been having night terrors for about a year now. Seems to happen most commonly after having a busy day with a super late nap. She’s over tired with her sleep routine out of norm. Generally just a few times each month about 2 hours after falling asleep. It lasts for 15-30 minutes. She screams with a look like she’s in pain, is inconsolable, stiffens her body, kicks, throws whatever is near…even her cherished woobie, cries, yells at me…telling me to go away, but then doesn’t want me to leave. It’s like she’s confused and doesn’t know what she wants or how to communicate what she feels.. Sometimes she talks jibberish. After awhile I’ll say ‘you wanna be in mommies lap’ and she’ll shake her head yes and let me rock her….still while crying. Totally breaks my heart. Her doc says it’s best to wait it out instead of trying to wake them up that waking them can make it worse, especially if the parent is freaking out and that the child doesn’t remember night terrors like they do nightmares. Just be patient and make sure they don’t hurt themselves. Also that night terrors usually happens closer to going to bed than getting up. Good luck with your little ones. This too shall pass.

Jul 20, 2017 4 year old daughter and i think “night terrors”
by: Anonymous

my daughter started waking up in the middle of the night about 6 months ago. she started out waking up and screaming for mommie. i would go in her room and try to calm her down. the first time it scared me because she just continued to cry and scream for me though i was right next to her. well tonight she woke up crying as i thought it was her 1 year old sister. no sooner did i get up to go get her my 4 year old started screaming no, no, no, on and on. she came out of her room and into the living room and just stared at me. i asked her if she was ok, she didnt answer me just came and hugged me. i let her lay on the couch and started to put a movie in for her. she lay there with her eyes as big as they could get just staring through me. i kept trying to talk to her and she didnt respond. finally she snapped out of it and asked me for a popsicle. her sister has a dr apointment tomorrow so i am going to go ahead and talk to her about it. but the only thing i can think of because she is not on any medication at all, is possibly night terrors. she starts school next month, we moved a month ago, and her biological father started coming around about a year ago. so good luck to everyone i know what you are going through. and if anyone knows of anything else that could be wrong let me know.

Aug 05, 2017 Same Time Every Night
by: Anonymous

My 13mo daughter wakes up screaming/crying the same time every night. Sometimes there is a weekly shift (12:30, now 1:30), but it will be the same time until that next shift. Some nights it is the same as most other posts – she seems to not recognize us and fights us. Usually she will calm down after she seems to recognize our singing, like the poster about the Dora song. Other times, though, she’s standing in her crib crying so loudly like she’s scared and wants us to rescue her. We have tried the cry-it-out technique after checking on her, but she can go 45 minutes! The doctor is not much help. We have asked numerous times about her sleeping issues and keep getting told that it’s all normal.

Aug 09, 2017 Screams in the night.

by: Anonymous

My 2 year old twins wake up quite frequently, One is usually pointing at the closet, wall, or under her sisters bed.. meanwhile her sister is sitting up screaming at the top of her lungs, we don’t know what to do?? We can’t get any sleep cause I keep thinking there’s someone in there room or something, they go to bed every night at 9pm they take naps at 1pm… there on a schedule. I make sure windows are locked and the closet door is closed and now i’m even looking under there beds but enough is enough i’m going to drive my self crazy thinking about this everynight… please help!!

Aug 11, 2017 About to go insane……

by: Lynn

My daughter just turned 3 in June. For the past 6-8 months she wakes up screaming in the middle of the night roughly 3 or 4 times a week. She’s always been very stronge willed and is used to getting her own way…youngest child and youngest grandchild. She does have temper tantrums during the day but I can usually get through to her or console her. When she wakes up in the night she screams as loud as humanly possible, hits, throws herself on the floor, tells me she hates me, refuses to be touched (cuddled/hugged), refuses her sippy cup (she always has during the night), breaks things etc.. ‘Night Terrors’ did cross my mind but she doesn’t seem scared…just really angry for no reason. I am relieved to see I’m not the only parent that seems to be going through this. My other child never did this. She’d have bad dreams once in awhile but I could comfort her..there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do this time.

Aug 11, 2017 Disturb her..?

by: Baby Help Line (Paula)

Hi Lynn,

You probably already tried this, but if not, try disturbing her a bit just before the time she usually starts screaming (if it tends to occur at a specific time at night). You don’t have to wake her up completely, just get her off her current sleep cycle.

It isn’t certain to help, but possible, so maybe worth a try.

You can also experiment with putting her to bed slightly earlier, since night terrors some times seem to be related to children being over tired when they go to sleep. That is definitely the case with my almost four year old son, who does exactly the same as your daughter but only after a nap at days when I know he really is exhausted.

Best, Paula

Oct 01, 2017 9 year old with occasional night terrors
by: Anonymous

My nine year old still suffers from night terrors. They started when she was a toddler. The first time that I remember vividly that she had them was when we were on an airplane late at night. She started screaming and thrashing around. She even kicked the flight attendant and other passengers who were passing by. I thought for sure the pilot was going to land the plane right then and there.
When she first had them, I tried disciplining her to make them stop because I was not aware that she couldn’t control them or that she didn’t even know what she was doing. It just escalated the night terrors and then we’d both be angry and losing our tempers. As she got older, I tried bribing her before she went to sleep, but it just frustrated her since she couldn’t control it. Now, I have finally learned that if I talk to her calmly and lead her on a walk outside while she thrashes about and screams at me, her night terror will end within 3-5 minutes of being outside. The cold air outside wakes her up and by the time we finish walking around the block, she is completely back to normal. She only remembers bits and pieces of what has happened, and she’s embarrassed and apologetic. Poor girl! She has told me repeatedly that she is angry and wants to fight what is bothering her (even though her waking self is not violent at all), and what she is angry about doesn’t make sense. The last time she said she was angry at gemstones…she had studied about them in class…but I’m not sure why she’d be angry at them.
I have found that if she doesn’t get enough sleep or if her sleep schedule is distrupted that she’ll have them more frequently. Needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night will also set it off.
Even though my daughter at 9 years old still has night terrors, the good news is that I have found a way to quickly remedy it. It does get better and the episodes get less frequent, more manageable, and shorter…and looking back, I can finally laugh at the time she had a night terror on the plane.

Oct 04, 2017 Praying for my 13 month old

by: Anonymous

Children are very spiritually aware. They can see and sense things that adults are desensitized to. They don’t operate by the same logic and rules that adults do. For the people that say their children are pointing at things under the bed and say there are ‘people’ (maybe spirits) in their room, I believe that your children are seeing things that are actually there but that you can’t see them because we (adults) have lost that spiritual sensitivity. Don’t be scared! There is evil in this world and the only way to overcome it is Jesus. My 13 month old daughter has had episodes like this for 3 months. We tried everything to console her, even to the point of staying up for 2 hours a night with her. We decided to try a different approach and pray in her room with her before bed. We ask Jesus to guard her through the night and that she would feel peaceful and feel His presence. We have also removed any things in her room that would carry anything bad spiritually (For example, we had a little doll with peace signs all over it. Peace signs are upside down crosses that have been broken. This is not something that Jesus wants in our lives). Of course, if you don’t have faith in Jesus it won’t work. But, be honest with Him if you’re not a believer and say, “Jesus, I don’t know if you’re real, but please come and be with me and my child tonight. Please keep us safe.” Ask Him for help with parenting and for rest for you. Ask Him for wisdom too. I asked for wisdom and He led me to turn on a projector for my daughter that plays little videos on the wall of animals while my daughter is sleeping. Now if she wakes up, I put that on and she goes back to sleep. I hope this works for you and your family. Hang in there, and God bless :)

Oct 04, 2017 I know how your all feeling
by: sara

meditation music at Bedtime,spray lavender in the room and break the sleep cycle….Any form of meditation should help,if not for your Kids but for yourself,as a coping mechanism…I know what your going through and it sux,,,but you WILL get through it.stay strong,calm and try different things-worst case senario none of it works at least you have explored all different avenues to break the monotony and big time stress of it all…Lots of Love xx

Oct 07, 2017 Think it was Night Terror

by: Anonymous

Our child is 2 1/2 and I think she had a night terror 2 nights ago, she woke up screaming horribly which she has NEVER done, she wouldn’t even let me touch her, hitting, kicking screaming it was horrible,I picked her up and brought her downstairs and she pushed me off her and ran like crazy back upstairs and jumped back in her crib, it seemed crazy. It felt like it lasted for an hour but i’m not sure how long it went on, even after she was calm she didn’t want to talk to us. She fell back to sleep. The next day she didn’t really seem to remember. We are firm believers in Jesus Christ, so last night I said an extra prayer over her after she fell asleep and she was okay last night, I am praying it doesn’t happen again. It’s hard and I can’t imagine this happening every other night. Pray thru it!! God Bless

Oct 29, 2017 Glad Im not alone!

by: Anonymous

My three year old hasn’t slept a full night in a year I think.He continuously wakes up at almost the same times every night (2 to 3 times) screaming and crying.Sometimes he just thrashes around in bed,and sometimes he sits up and points to the door thinking its time to wake up! I don’t know what to do anymore. We live in a duplex, with very close neighbors and very thin walls! Ive tried putting him to bed later, doing tiring “outside” activities with him,but nothing seems to work.

We have his toddler bed in our room because he was keeping my other son awake who has to get up and go to school in the morning !! I’m telling you I am at my wits end! Not to mention he wakes up cranky,and stays cranky for the rest of the day! I just wish I knew what was going on so I could solve this problem!!

Oct 30, 2017 Toddler waking
by: Sara

Heyyyy…me again…We’ll sorry to say but my 3 year old is still waking up every night on que…its been happening for 2 years,and not only does she wake up once but its about 4 times a night,EVERY night,Ive tried Everythinggggg…So I am sorry to say,I fear its just a normal habit of a toddler and i feel its just a matter of persevering,it will stop eventually..

Just a TIP – Dont bother getting cranky at them, because it makes NO difference,and if you keep getting cranky,it makes them worse…

Good luck in maintaining your sanity – Just make sure you create moments of deep relaxation somehow through the day-to enable a night of patience xx

Dec 06, 2017 screaming toddler at night
by: Edel

Hi My 17mt old is doing the same thing. its very strange. only differ is my daughter is staring into space and doesn”t even know I’m there which is very worrying. she doesnt even wana be held & when she does I cant get her back into de cot when she settles is it really nite terrors or is there something more wrong pls help :(

Dec 10, 2017 WAKING UP!!

by: Anonymous

my daughter is turning 4 in 3 weeks time and she keeps waking up in the night crying but says there is nothing wrong! it’s so frustrating because there’s nothing i can do if there’s nothing wrong!! she keeps saying she doesn’t want to dream asw ell which is a bit worrying. shes cried so much she’s made herself sick!! at a loose end it’s a nightmare! she shares a room with her 9 mth old brother as well which makes things worse!! i have been through it all b4 as well. how can i make it all stop?!

Dec 26, 2017 Not sure that it’s nightmares, etc…
by: Anonymous

Before I start, there have been NO injuries and currently NO injuries. I have toddler turning 3 in April, the last 3 nights she has woke up several times between 1 and 4 with fever and screaming saying her bone hurts in her thigh/knee area. She will not let me touch her or console her in any way. Is it too soon for growing pains? Do growing pains cause fever?

Sleepless in Canton, TX

Dec 29, 2017 No words for this noise, more than screaming!

by: CV

My 15 mo old wakes up every now and then, but now seems to be more often, at least once or twice a week a few hours after going to bed. When he wakes, it sounds like someone is torturing him or he is possessed!

He is always standing in his crib at the side closest to the door and his eyes are open. If you pick him up he throws his head back and pushes against you. If I lay him on the floor he stiffens and arches his back. If I lay him back in his crib its the same.

Two nights ago I realized there was NO consoling him so I let him scream and it just got louder. Eventually he screamed so much when I went back in there he let me hold him and calm him down, but I usually have to sit by his crib and end up crawling out of the room. I am beginning to wonder if this IS a night terror?

This “screaming” also happens if he has a late nap and is woken up too soon You cant do anything. I have to be at work at 6am and also attend school so you can imagine how TIRED I am! I am so glad to see its not just me! I was beginning to wonder how normal this is!

Jan 01, 2018 Similar Situation

by: Tired Mother of One

I am just so glad to know that my boy is normal. He is now 2.5 years old. He has been in this screaming in the middle of the night recently and nothing we do can calm him down. My husband and I realized that the best way to calm him down is to let him scream till he stops by himself. Then and only then will he be quiet and we can try to communicate to him and seek to understand what he wants.

When he is in the screaming frenzy, the more we try to talk to him or to calm him down, the louder the screams will be. I only wish that there can really be some solution to this situation. But reading everyone’s experiences, it seems that the only way out is for him to outgrow this phase.

The power of a parent’s love!

Jan 04, 2018 extra sleep for night terrors

by: Anonymous

I went through something similar 2 years ago with my 2.5 year old. She was on a strict sleaping routine – bed at 8pm, 2 hour sleep during the day. After reading comments on the Internet I decided to try to increase her sleeping time and so I put her to bed at 7.30pm instead. This half hour extra sleep made all the difference, and the affect was immediate. The night terrors stopped.Since then she goes to bed at 7.30pm, although she has now grown out of the daytime naps, and there have been no more re-occurrences.

Jan 05, 2018 Results
by: Edel

Hi all thanks 4 all ur comments. It helped me so much until I found my solution. I have solved my little 1s problem. It was something in her diet. If u have not tried this, do. It might make all de difference. It did with mine. My daughter’s problem was cheese.

The day I didn’t give her cheese she slept fine & has been ever since without cheese in her diet. Try eliminating food he or she has regularly. esp cheese or any Dairy products. It might not do anything but no harm in trying.

best of luck all & tanx again 4 all ur comments kept me from losing it until I solved my issue. all the best

Jan 16, 2018 Argh!

by: Anonymous

Thank you all for posting. My husband and I are SO exhausted as well. We have 3 kids and have never had this problem with our older kids. Our youngest is 2 1/2. A terrible one! I feel like a horrible mother because I too get angry and frustrated night after night. I want to pull my hair out and scream! Please keep posting what you find may work. We are desperate!

P.S to the one mom who posted about her daughter waking up with fever and pain in her bones…please google Periodic Fever Syndrome. Our oldest daughter had the same symptoms and we finally after 4 years found a diagnosis.

Jan 26, 2018 I’m glad is nothing more then night terrors

by: Anonymous

My sister has a grandchild who has autism so she takes her to a phycologist. And told him about the same problems tha most of you are going with your child. She does the same things screams, hits, bites, pushes you away and later wants you to hold her. The phycologist told her that the child had systems of someone who is bipolar. I wonder does he know about night terrors because this situation with her only happens at night. My sister did told him that it only happens at night and he still thinks that the child is bipolar.

Feb 01, 2018 Something you may not have tried

by: Anonymous

If you haven’t already,I would definitely check out the diet route (ie anything that may be causing indigestion/allergy problems at night like cheese..) and make sure they get enough sleep (which can sometimes seem counter-intuitive, some people think if you just overtire them they will have to sleep-but this actually makes it worse b/c they are more prone to heightened sensitivity to being woken and will be more upset if they are.)

But what you likely haven’t tried may seem a little wacky. Sometimes we use sleep/dreams to act out frustrations or fears, and often a child’s stem in some way from the parents. First, I’m not implying at all that you may not have good relationships, only that your child may not SEE your strong relationship b/c things may be so centered around them. What I suggest is that for 15 minutes you and your spouse have “couch time”. It needs to be where they can see you (but not allowed to interrupt) and it needs to happen EVERY day. Not only is it reassuring for your child to see you speaking with your spouse (when they’re not involved) but with what you’re dealing with it’s an important connect and down time for the two of you. Do it consistently, give it a week or two and see if it doesn’t work. I know it seems ridiculous but it has worked for others and the idea’s not mine- although I can’t remember the source. The thing is, if you’re dealing with this, why not give it a try-just to see. Do be faithful about it though, it needs to happen every night, with no interruptions and it doesn’t count if your conversation happens while you cook/clean.

Feb 01, 2018 Child

by: Anonymous

My son does the same thing, but what leads to it is the fact that he’s so restless. When I got to lay him down for bed, which is usually the same time as me, he wants to fight and scream, bang his head, pinch, bite, etc…He refuses to go to bed. Than once he is asleep the slightest sound or movement wakes him. And if there is no sound or movement, he will just wake up and start screaming or recently has begun throwing himself out of the bed. Last night he even jumped out of bed, went and grabbed a random blanket off the floor, and got back in bed. I think this is so strange, and a recent development. During his nap he could sleep through a horse race, but at night time it’s a whole different ball game.

Feb 11, 2018 In the middle of Night Terrors

by: Emykins

I have been wondering what was wrong with my little one, she has just had a terrible bout of Gastroenteritis and since recovering has been having “terrors” when she “wakes” in the mornings. She does her usual waking thing and then starts screaming, ear splitting screaming and goes completely rigid.

But I have noticed that the cry is very different to her normal cry when she wants something. She also throws her milk, dummy and basically anything else she can get her hands on!

This thread has helped me understand what has happening as I was getting really worried as it is so out of character for her.

I think it is something we just need to ride out, fingers crossed it goes as quickly as it arrived!

Mar 03, 2018 Night Terrors

by: KH

Im a newly single mom after my husband left in August 2010.

Since I moved into an apartment after the house sold (jan 1, 2011) my son has been waking up 3 times a week (every night I have him since we have joint custody) screaming for his “bubba”(he’s 2, but he calls his sippy cup bubba) but he wont’ take it. then he stopped for 3 weeks, now he’s started up again..this time he screams “no!”

the thing that bothers me, since i know it’s something I have to ride out, is IM the only one he pulls them on. HE doesn’t have terrors when he’s with his father, and I’m scared it means I’m not a good mom. I’m 29, this is my only child and he turns two on sunday. hes never thrown them on the sitter, on his grandparents or dad.. just me. Am I doing something wrong? we cuddle, we play, we give loves and kisses and he’s the happiest kid going during the day.. he even grabs his blanket and sippy cup at bedtime and runs to his rocking chair to wait for snuggle time.. and he rolls right over, turns on his mobile himself, and talks to his hippo til he falls asleep. he’s GREAT at going to bed.. then an hour later he wakes up. I have come away with bruises, black eyes, bloody noses (he’s 33 lbs, 33 inches.. he’s up to my belly button, and im 5 foot) he’s really strong and aggressive and I’m afraid of him hurting himself so i hold him so he can’t hurt either of us..

what am i doing wrong?!

Mar 07, 2018 To KH

by: Paula (Baby Help Line)

Hi KH,

You are not doing anything wrong! It could either simply be a coincidence that he has these nightmares with you or he is simply so secure with you that he sleeps heavier. What you can check is what bedtime he has with his dad. Sometimes putting a child to bed slightly earlier can help avoid night terrors. Another option is to disturb him (almost wake him up) just before the time when his nightmares/terrors start. That might help.

Warm wishes,


Mar 07, 2018 dilema
by: Edel

hi KH thats horrible but u mustn’t blame yourself. He is at dat temper tantrum age they cont call it terrible 2’s for nowt :P have u looked at his diet is there anything u give him dat his dad doesnt, something simple like cheese r fruit late in de eve. they can all give kids nite terrors or unsettled during the night try takin a few things out of his diet see if it makes any difference or maybe he just sences de tension since or split & is just playn on ur emotions. hopefully its just a phase & he’ll grow out of it heres hopn hun :P hope sumtin I said mite help.
best of luck Edel

Mar 07, 2018 HELP FOR K.H
by: Edel





Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, wal­nuts, pecans)




Shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)

Apr 07, 2018 need sleep
by: Anonymous

Wow I can’t believe so many people are going through this too…my daughter will be 2 in july and for the past year she wakes up around 3 ish screaming n banging her head on her crib usually her father can calm her down n give her her pacifier and she’s good for the night but lately she has gotten worse to the point it lasts for hours n we both have full time jobs to got to early in the morning I can’t tell u how frustrating it is I have no idea how to stop it I’ve tried everything n I dnt kno if its night terrors cuz she doesn’t seem disoriented or not knowing what’s going on she just screams n cries and also her older brother (my stepson) use to go through the same thing and his lasted till he was about 3 1/2 I really don’t want to go through this for another year help!

May 13, 2018 Mommy of 2
by: Anonymous

My 3 year old son for the past 2 weeks has been waking up so many times a night I can’t even count. it has to be every couple hours. he says he sees monsters , and he’s scared of every shadow in his room. he was even scared of the speak ing bush on dora the explorer and talked about it for 2 days. At first, it was everything on top of the changing table system that seemed to look like monsters in the night. then after giving him claritin it seemed worse now he was waking up every 10 to 15 minutes all throughout the night when I asked him what was wrong he just was trying to speak but the words were not coming out clear that I can understand. he was barly opening up his eyes and it seems he was in a lot of pain. I gave gas drops but nothing seemed to help. Father is at his wits end he has to get up at 430 every morning to go to work and this is really reeking havoc on our relationship as well. we’re fighting over watching too much tv. he seems to be scared of everything even if I speak loudly or a deer on tv. sleep deprived mommy please help even wound up sleeping in his crib last night.

May 15, 2018 this is what ive been looking for!!!

by: tired mommy of 2

my daughter did all these things from the time she was born til about age 5. now she is having these fits of rage during the day but maybe about 1 or 2 a month! i never know when 1 will start. we had 1 today that lasted about 3 hours! my 4-year-old son who will be 5 on Tuesday, is being tested for autism, adhd, and speech delay, went to his room and covered his head with a blanket to drown her screaming out. after my daughters fit of rage she never remembers y I’m upset and what she did. my hubby is the same way only his is almost daily now. they have both suffered a head injury. i dont know if they are related or if it’s a family trait being passed down. im so tired and can barely fall asleep at night cuz im just so drained my brain cant slow down with my body. today i felt awful because i had to bust her bottom 3 times and it never worked! i hate having to do that but she literally screamed i cant go to sleep without my blankie over and over for 3 hours after losing it cuz she screamed at me when i told her she couldnt go over to our shop. she continued screaming the whole 3 hours over just being told “no, u r not going to get what u want while acting like this” in a calm voice. i did at the end yell just as loud as her and said “thats it im getting in my car and going somewhere else and your daddy can deal with this cuz im tired” i just didnt have the energy anymore. im crying right now cuz of these terrors, fots or whatever you want to call them! she will be 8 the end of this month and at least she isnt having night terrors anymore, but this is just getting bad! please help!!!!

Jun 06, 2018 Please answer Bob, I have the same exact issue and didnt see a response for him!!!
by: Lisa

“I’m thinking (hoping) my 2 year old is only suffering night terrors too. He sleeps with us and normally sleeps like a rock. Very often, however, he will wake up screaming and crying and is inconsolable. When we try to talk to him or touch him he just screams louder and hits us. Recently, the hitting has come even though we aren’t saying ot doing anything. He just wakes up and starts repeatedly slapping his mom or I. The other day, he did this out of nowhere and then went into the bathroom and stood in a corner. I continued to pretend I was asleep and figured he’d come to bed. All of a sudden, he walked back in the room and began spitting at me. All with no provocation. The only thing that seems to break the spell is to sing the Dora the Explorer theme song. This eventually gets through, calms him down, and lulls him back to sleep.

If it helps at all, he’s always been very active in his sleep. Even as a baby, he would “sleep crawl” into his crib rails, banging his head repeatedly but not waking up. Once he learned to talk, he began talking and laughing in his sleep. DOes anyone know if these other behaviours: hitting, spitting, and getting out of bed are related to night terrors as well? “”

ditto for me!! Please help what could this be??

Jun 06, 2018 To Lisa (and Bob)

by: Paula (Baby Help Line)

Hi Lisa,

I had to scroll a long way to find the post you referred too. And you are right, it hadn’t been answered.

I am not a medical expert on sleep disturbances and can’t say for sure if the somewhat violent behavior is part of the night terrors. It is not among the commonly noticed symptoms. However, I still wouldn’t be too surprised if it is related. Just thinking about what toddlers are like, with their mind and abilities developing so quickly, but still usually completely unable to deal with their own frustrations.

My own youngest often acted in a very similar way (and still sometimes does at the age of 4). With him, my interpretation is that when he wakes up and is still very tired, he simply can’t deal with it. The feeling of overwhelming exhaustion makes him furious and he starts yelling, kicking and so on. Sometimes I am not even sure if he really is awake or if he is trying to fight his way back to sleep. But he doesn’t wake up screaming at night, so it isn’t exactly the same situation.

In any case, if your child wakes up more or less at the same time every night, screams and is disoriented, scared, confused and so on, it is likely to be night terrors. If it occurs often, discuss it (and also the violent parts) with a pediatrician.

Sorry to not be able to provide any more specific help,


Jul 22, 2018 You will know in 5-8 days!!!
by: Shelli

We have 7 children from the ages of 15 down to 8 month old twins. We have dealt with just about everything you can imagine, but were at our breaking point with our 3-4yr old daughter. She was having the screaming night terror thing that has been described above from so many of you. My husband is the one that finally figured out that it was milk products. He likes to pile the kids into the van and take them out for ice cream at least once a week and one day he told me it had to be the trigger for her. Everytime he took them she would end up on the floor screaming by bedtime. She also woke up in the night screaming on those nights for sure. My understanding from friends with children diagnosed with autism or asbergers is that dairy/casseins cause these children to RAGE. Our children do not have these issues, but several of them do have Sensory processing issues, though they appear to be completely normal, I knew something was ‘off’. I recommend taking your children off ALL dairy for 5-8 days. If the ingredient warning at the bottom of the label says : includes milk, may include milk, or trace amounts of milk DO NOT BUY IT!!! If this is the trigger you will know in 5 days. We have been ‘night terror free’ for a month now!!!! All children are sleeping great and I am SOOOOOO relieved. Two great books to read are Jenny McCarthy’s “Healing and preventing Autism” and “The Out of Sync Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

I am sure our issues are connected to immunizations and the mercury preservatives used in them. It melts brain tissue and was removed from our pets shots yrs. ago, yet we inject them into our kids and blame bad behavior on THEM???? :(

Jul 22, 2018 Excluding dairy – thank you!
by: Tired mommy of 2

Thank you so much for the idea to exclude dairy products! I’ll try it right away!

Nov 20, 2018 Screaming 2 yr.old
by: memom

My grandaughter does the same thing ,I feel so bad for my son he has to deal with this by his self. Any time she goes to sleep and then wakes up she goes into her screaming fit, he can’t hold her or talk to her ,she will screem leave me alone.when I watch her she will do the same thing,we hope she will grow out of it .But her mother still today will go off if you wake her up at any time and scream at you,we are hoping this is not family problem on her side of the family.

Jan 23, 2019 3 year old boy possible possession or night terror?

by: Anonymous

My son is turning 3 in february. When I was 8-9 months pregnant with him I would have dreams that a “shadow man” would take my son. After I had my son I had many dreams that I would be able to see myself sleeping and I would walk into my sons room and the man would be standing over his bed, when he would look at me he would get very angry and I would feel as if I was being choked and as if someone was sitting on my chest. A few times I woke up with bruises on my neck and bruises over my rib cage.
About a month ago my son started screaming in the middle of the night. When I would go to see what was wrong he would be thrashing around. These episodes last about 30 minutes to an hour and there is no waking him up. Last night he was acting very strange yelling at me and being agressive towards my friends daughter. I put him to bed since it was late and I figured he was just tired. After him screaming and crying for an hour he finally fell asleep. About 45 minutes later I heard him screaming at the top of his lungs. I ran into the bedroom to find him arched on my bed thrashing. I picked him up and his eyes opened his eyes were black as night normally has bright blue eyes. I held him close and my friend and I prayed. as we prayed the thrashing and screaming intensified. after 45 minutes he went limp and fell right back to sleep. has anyone else experienced this?

Jan 24, 2019 reply to night terriors or possible possesion

by: Anonymous

I find dat very strange Id advise seeing a doc First maybe just reaction to food ;) does ur son eat alot of sweets if not try cheese or any diary produce as thus can cause night terrors & maybe talking to a priest. I was terrified just reading your post. hope you get this sorted xx

Jan 24, 2019 Night Terror VS Possesion
by: Paula (Easy Baby Life)

To the mom worried for her 3-year-old screaming at night

Dear mom,

You are not alone worrying for your son and certainly not the only one who started to worry already when pregnant. Vivid dreams of for example being pregnant with something evil are quite common and more than anything reflects how overwhelming it is to being part of creating new life. It does not mean that these dreams are true! They tell you about YOUR worries, not about your baby.

Now, being 3 years old and starting to scream, fight and not really recognizing anyone in the middle of the night, most likely means night terrors. Black eyes most likely means large pupils from the dark room – and a terrified mom for understandable reasons. Your son is not crazy and not possessed. Try creating a calm and peaceful moment before going to bed, including no TV. Have a nice, loving bath together and then go to bed slightly earlier than usual. Don’t let him cry and scream at bed time. Stay with him, read for him and help him go to bed safe and positive.

At around 30 minutes to 1 hour before the time he usually wakes up trashing, almost wake him up, but not completely. (For example, lift him up and move him gently to another sleep position, so that his deep sleep is disturbed.)

This should help. If not, please get back to me.


May 14, 2019 HELP!!
by: Brittney

OK so like you my 2 1/2 yr old son wakes up around 1:30-2 for the past 2 weeks. he wakes up in a rage and NOTHINg can calm him down we have tried reasoning with him and doing everything he wants. we have even closed his door so he will calm down. my husband has to pin him down to his chest untill he calms down a little or he will throw himself agianst walls to the point of bloodying his nose??? what do i do??

Jun 03, 2019 Over this…

by: Anonymous

My 3.5 year old daughter has been waking up screaming and hitting and crying for over 2 years now. These “incidents” get worse, more dangerous, more angry with age. Sometimes she’s inconsolable, and it’s obvious it’s a night terror. Others, she is actually yelling at me about her knee hurting, or telling me she doesn’t want me that she wants daddy. She’s also obsessed with water, so all night long I’m getting her water, and trying to get her to the potty. Typically she refuses the toilet. The hardest part lately is that she’s scaring her 18-month-old sister (they share a room) and the entire house is not getting any sleep.

She’s a pretty high energy girl, and she’s very independent. So when she’s more aware of the tantrums, it’s still confusing for her like a terror but she’s awake and arguing and fighting. Tonight a band-aid on her summer knee, and she’s sleeping on the couch with me has helped for a few minutes – but here I am 3am, on the computer trying to figure out how I can get a solid 5-6 hours of sleep too. :( She cries for her is daddy most of the time, and to be honest he’s just sick of dealing with it, and I think it upsets her even more. Tonight he took her little sister to bed with him, and I am here trying to deal with her. But other nights he’s on the floor by her bed sleeping because of them and either I’m with baby, or just slept right through it out of exhaustion.

I’ve watched her play and she tends to be very sweet to the other kids, sharing all the time, apologizing when someone gets hurt (both when she caused an accident or she didn’t), she’s very aware of others, and her surroundings. The teachers have even commented on how kind she is, however some girls are being mean to her at her pre-school (yes the catty stuff starts this young) and she talks about how it hurts her feelings. Maybe this is part of the problem, but I’m not sure how to fix it. My thoughts were trying to develop friendships with the other girls and boys in class that are nice to each other. And though she loves playing wit them too, these night episodes continue…. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just another sort of night terror. I had terrors when I was a child. When I was older, I swore up and down that someone slipped LSD in my milk or something because the dreams were very vivid and to be in half sleep / half not mode was bizarre. But I was not violent, I didn’t hit my mom. I would just sleep walk, and yell, and do the typical night terror stuff. This worries me and this Mommy is tired of being hit, and yelled at. And honestly the dismissal from her is the worst part because when your little girl is hitting you and saying “NOT YOU, I Don’t want you! I want Daddy” it makes you feel helpless. I am the mom so I brush it off like I should and continue trying to console her. But still, i wish there were answers, and remedies or more info on how to solve the issue rather then just accept it and live with it. :(

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  1. Scared dad

    My 3.5 year old daughter just woke up shaking, crying, and chattering her teeth, and talking about needing to go into space and other strange gibberish. it scared the hell out of me. She eventually started responding to me, insisting nothing was wrong, and that she didn’t eat or drink anything strange but she was still shaking at this point. is this a night terror, or what?

  2. Boymom

    My little boy(nearly 2) sometimes wakes up screaming and there is nothing me or his father can do about it! He throws his teddy, dummy and anything he can get his hands on! He bites, slaps and pushes anyone who tries to comfort him!

    We just have to sit and wait for him to calm down (obviously making sure he doesn’t hurt himself!) and as a mother who suffered from really bad nightmares and sleep-walking as a child(to the point of seeing a child therapist for it!) it breaks my heart that for the 10/15 minutes it takes him to calm down!

    When he calms down we usually have a cuddle and he falls straight back to sleep!

    I can totally get what the lady was saying about the child not recognising the parent because my little boy looks right through me and he is such a mommy’s boy during the day I can’t believe that if he wasn’t upset he wouldn’t want me to comfort him!

    Don’t get me wrong he is a lovely boy and this doesn’t happen all the time! He has always been a off again on again sleeper so we are used to broken nights sleep!

    So good, luck I hope it settles down soon!

  3. Mary J

    My 3.5 yr old will wake up usually after about 2 hours of sleep screaming and shaking. Her eyes wide open she will not tell me what is wrong, she won’t tell me what she wants or needs. She just screams with her eyes bugged out its like she is in a scared panic : ( It worries me a lot, I wonder is it a bad dream or did she sleep on her arm wrong and it fell asleep or what idk : ( . I try to hold her and rock her back to sleep but sometimes she wants to smack and hit me.

  4. Me too

    I am going through the exact same thing with my 3 1/2-year-old. He wakes up screaming at the top of his lungs for no reason at all other than his glass of water isn’t cold enough or the blankets are all wrong or he wants to go and play.

    I sit there for an hour listening to this and trying to talk to him and nothing works and then he just stops, says sorry and goes back to sleep.

  5. Worried father

    My daughter is 3 and half years old and wakes up and screams in the middle of the night almost daily. Nothing seems to calm her down… I’m an inch short of throwing her in a cold shower… I know it won´t calm her but I do hope it makes her tired…

    Anyway, the way she screams now, I don’t think she can scream any harder while on the shower…

    I don’t think this power toy thing can help us. During daytime, she talks about how she is the mother of a little girl who misbehaves and cries all night… We are worried, and also sick and tired of our daily night show, me especially cause I’m the father, and she yells at me, orders me to leave her room while screaming for mommy.

  6. Alexis Rose McFarland

    I am a first time mom at 36, and am now 37… My daughter who is now 1 1/2 years old and used to scream uncontrollably in the middle of the night so bad that it often frightened me. She too would become a bit violent in my opinion and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. The advise I’m about to give is just that, I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor do I have the slightest clue, until now, what it is to raise a child. With that being said even, I am always wondering if I’m doing things right or in a way that its benefical for her so she turns out to be a well rounded young lady. So, it was around 2 a.m. or 3 when i was awakened with panic and fear just from the sounds coming from my daughter, even though I was a bit terrified at what I might find, like any mother, I jumped to my feet and bee lined for my little girl. It seemed she was still laying down and eyes closed, but screaming as though she was frightened. I didn’t want to scare her anymore so I gently put my hand on her and gently called out, “it’s mommy honey” in hopes that would sooth her. Only to find her grab my hand and litterally throw it off of her as she let out a whine, naturally I tried again and her reaction was the same only more stern and loud. It broke my heart, but I kept the same calm voice and said, “hey, that’s not very nice”, and I attempted to put my hand on her one more time, but before my hand reached her, she became hysterical waving her hands at mine, so instead of touching her this time, I said, “ok, I guess I will just go away if you don’t want me to touch you” and as I started to walk away is when she cried in a different way, a way that I knew she didn’t want me to leave the room. I turned back for her and she held her arms out once I reached for her. We cuddled until she wasn’t crying anymore and she was back to sleep. This went on for only a few more random nights that I can recall. Now when she wakes up, she wants to be held and comforted until she falls back asleep. I really wish that I could confidently say that this will work for everyone, but I know that every baby is different and may not work for anyone else. It is worth a shot, especially since I know how you all are feeling, I was willing to do just about anything! Good luck to all, I am praying that it works for at least one other family out there!!! And in case no one has told you lately, you are an amazing mommy and/or daddy, you are doing great, keep up the good work! God bless!

  7. Paula @easybabylife

    Hi Amy,
    Do I understand you correctly – you sort of have two problems: one is that your daughter is having vivid dreams again screams her step brother’s name and the other problem is that your step son and your daughter are fighting a lot?

    How old is your daughter?

    In any case, if you just all started to live together, it is a huge transition for everyone. Kids don’t automatically love each other just because their parents happen to and kids and their step parents also don’t love each other just like that.

    On top of that, someone else’s parenting might not be your exact flavor either!

    You and your bf need to talk a bit and also give your kids and yourself some grace. Try to focus on the FUN and make plans to do things together that both kids will appreciate – even if it is just doing silly dancing in the living room on a Friday night. The more you can spend time together in nice ways, the more you will all bond. And that will reduce both fighting and nightmares!

    At least the 10-year-old is old enough so that he should also be allowed to express any worries or negative feelings about the situation. He should be totally allowed to say to his dad that he hates all of this, hates all of you or whatever. Maybe he does! Or he is freaking terrified that he will now be less important for his dad! He needs to be able to say any of this to his dad and be reassured that he is still loved just as much as before, that his feelings are natural and ok, but that the new situation will remain and that dad will do everything he can to make it great because he happens to love YOU very much. (And the same goes for your daughter if she is old enough to express anything like this.) They are still not allowed to be mean to each other!

    Also, remember to do things alone with your kids. For them, this is a huge change and they need to make sure they have not been abandoned by their respective parents.

    Third, whenever your step son does anything you like, let him know, so he feels appreciated by you and you reinforce his good behaviors.

    You, of course, need to protect your daughter from mean behaviors, but in addition to setting limits, helping them bond by having a good time together will be the most effective in the long run.

    Talk to your bf and decide how the two of you set limits for each other’s kids. Preferably, you have the same (age-adapted) rules for all children in the household and you help each other keep these rules for all kids, in a firm but kind way. Then they’ll learn what is acceptable and not.

    Being a step family (or star family as we call it in Sweden) is a difficult, but wonderful journey. It takes a lot of responsibility, cooperation and patience from the adults to make it work, but it CAN. I love my step son, all the siblings (step or not) have super strong bonds, and my step son’s mom is a dear friend. It wasn’t always like that, but it now.

    Sorry, this got very long. It is a dear topic. :-) Try to focus on the fun and reinforcing what works. Set limits for their arguing (in a nice way) when needed and cooperate with your bf to get your new little family toghether as a family. It can work! (Here are some quite useful tips to make kids cooperate – works for all ages https://www.easybabylife.com/remarkable-parents.html)

    Let me know if this was of any help and how things proceed.

    xoxo, Paula

  8. Andrey

    Let me put out a couple suggestions as someone who remembers this experience often at age 5 and also had a child with it.

    First it makes sense to me, as a couple people said, that food can make a difference – we all know we sleep differently depending on what we ate and how close to bedtime. And allergies to specific things like casein seem to have a much bigger impact than most people recognize until you totally remove the allergen for a week or two and look at the impact.

    But I was going to discuss my direct experience. I recall these night terrors as being like a horrifying hallucination – probably what someone experiences in a bad LSD trip. Kind of like the worst dream you can imagine but the problem is you can’t immediately snap back into reality.

    I think young children feel this because they are a little more in touch with deeper levels of the consciousness which adults have blocked out (unless the adult takes some drug). Unfortunately I don’t think there is a simple and total “cure” for this issue – it is just something some children need to work through. I would say though that the most important thing in my opinion is not to panic or project your own concern as many parents do. Realize that what is happening is normal and you just need to be a calm, loving figure to reassure your child as much as possible.

    My partner for example would get very distressed when our son had these terrors because she didn’t relate to it and was worried. Of course then it would take 30 or 45 min to calm him down because he was partially feeding off of her fear. I could usually pick him up and by being extremely calm and reassuring he would settle down within a few minutes. I think it was just because I could relate to what he was feeling and maintain the thought that “you are OK everything is fine.”

    Lastly, although I’m not very religious I do think that, as other posters stated, calm prayer can help. That is how I finally got over this problem as a child, I started praying before bed every night to have good dreams and finally the night terrors ended. In fact I even thought later that perhaps this is one reason we (used to) teach children to say their prayers at night – to put them in a calmer/better state during sleep.

  9. Ashley Lynne White

    My 1 year old, for the passed 3 days she stands in her crib screaming on the top of her lungs and wont stop. Shes has been changed, fed because I still breats feed, and she wont go to bed for a hour, and I need some advise to know what it is or how I could change it…? HELP!!!!!