It is estimated, according to Childrenscolorado.org, that about 2 percent of children suffer from frightening night terrors. Despite the major misconception that these terrors are stress-induced, they are oftentimes genetic and runs in families. By the time a child reaches 12 years of age, night terrors usually become a thing of the past and they outgrow them.
Generally, most night terrors happen within two hours of bedtime. It can leave parents feeling hopeless and guilt-stricken when they see their child suffering through something so terrible. While night terrors don’t have a quick fix, there are things that parents can try to help their children through them. Continue reading to see 10 ways to help a child with night terrors.
10 Turn On The Light
Nighttime can be scary for many people, especially young children. If you notice that your child is going through a night terror episode, turn on your child’s bedroom lights or any lights in general. The brighter, the better.
According to Childrenscolorado.org, turning the lights on can help a child feel less confused by the shadows that get cast around their room at night. While children don’t generally remember their night terrors upon awakening, the light can help make them feel a little more comfortable.
9 Let Your Child Know That They’re Safe At Home In Their Bed
During a night terror episode, try letting your little one know that they are safe at home in their bed. Repeat this as often as you need to. The more you repeat it and try to reassure your child that they are safe, the better.
Make sure that when you tell your child they are safe, that you are saying it in a soothing and comforting voice. If you sound frantic and panic-stricken, it could actually make the episode so much worse.
8 Try Some Reassuring Comments And Speak Calmly & Repetitively
This next tip for helping a child who has night terrors goes hand-in-hand with reassuring your child that they are safe. You can also try making other helpful comments such as, “You are okay,” I’m right here with you,” or even “Nothing is going to hurt you.”
Just like with telling your child that they are safe at home, you should always try to talk as clearly and calmly as possible when repeating these phrases to your child. You can make a mantra out of it and just say these things over and over until the episode is over with.
7 Hold Your Child ONLY If It Makes Them Feel Better
Many parents want to hold and cuddle their little ones when they are going through an episode of night terrors. In some cases, it is an excellent thing to do while in other cases it can make the child feel worse; almost as if they were claustrophobic. If you have tried holding your child during a previous night terror, feel free to try it again since it will most likely benefit your child as long as they appear to want to be held.
If your child responded negatively, then perhaps moving on to another tip would be a good idea. If you’ve never tried it, the only way to know if holding your child will work would be to give it a try.
6 Avoid Yelling And Shouting
When you see your child going through a horrifying night terror, for some parents, a first reaction might be to scream and shout to ask them what’s wrong and if they are okay. But yelling, shouting, and even loud noises can actually make the episode so much worse because it can scare the child even more.
You want to try your hardest to remain calm and speak calmly. You want your voice to soothe your little one and not scare them.
5 Don’t Wake The Child Up (Especially By Shaking Them)
Children generally aren’t able to be woken up from a night terror. It is one of those things that you have to let the episode ride out until it’s over with. Parents, babysitters, and caretakers need to understand that you should never, ever shake a child to try to get them to snap out of the episode. “Shaking” them awake could frighten the child even more and just make the situation so much worse.
Not to mention, the rule of the thumb is to never shake a child to begin with regardless of their age since it could lead to things like shaken baby syndrome and brain damage.
4 Try To Hold Your Little One’s Hand
If holding your child in your arms fully during a night terror episode isn’t an option because they didn’t respond well to it, you could try simply holding your little one’s hand.
When you hold your child’s hand, make sure to also continuously reassure your little one that they are safe at home and that they are okay and that nothing will hurt them. You can gently stroke your kid’s hand and give it a reassuring squeeze when they are in an episode.
3 Keep Your Child Safe & Stay With Them During An Episode
One very important tip for helping your child combat night terrors would be to keep an eye on your little one and watch out for their safety. You want to always make sure that they are never by any stairs to reduce the risk of them falling down the steps.
You should try to make sure that you are able to sit with your child through the episode to ensure that they are safe. During night terrors, children have a higher risk of getting injured because they consciously have no idea what’s going on in reality.
2 Try To Understand That You Can’t Shorten An Episode
It’s hard for many parents to accept the fact that they have no power over their child’s night terror episodes. But, according to Childrenscolorado.org, there is really no way to control or shorten an episode.
So, please, try not to be too hard on yourself because we know that watching your child suffer through night terrors can be downright heartbreaking for most parents since they don’t know how to make them stop or go away. Understanding is half the battle.
1 Learn Night Terror Prevention Methods
While there is no actual cure for night terrors in children, there are certain things that have been known to trigger these episodes. Researching can help you understand and learn different ways to help reduce the onset of episodes. According to Childrenscolorado.org, when the bedroom is too warm or even hot it can increase the likelihood of an episode occurring.
So making sure that your child’s room is cool can be a key element. You should also try to make sure that your child does not get overly tired since sleep deprivation has also been known to trigger episodes.