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Night mares or night terrors



There is a difference between what we call night terrors and night mares. Night terrors is a sleep disorder like sleep walking, bed wetting, grinding the teeth (common and ain’t no cure), and talking in the sleep. Night terrors is where the child gets up and screams, but is not awake. They do not know you even came into the room. In night mares, the child acknowledges you, and looks at you or talks to you. In night terrors, they are screaming in their sleep, even though they are standing up. What you have to do is wake them up and put them back to sleep. It is hard to ignore. This only lasts a short time around 18 months to 2 1/2 yr. old.

If the have a night mare, it is usually between 2 and 4 years old. They are genuinely afraid and you can wee it on their face. It is our job as parents to put food in their stomach, give them a roof over their head, clothing on their body, and give them security. You really should reassure them. They are afraid even if they do not see a scary show. Certainly men should not criticize a woman for being afraid to get out of a car in a dark parking lot. So the child is afraid and several ways to reassure them. You can call out to them and they might roll over and go back to sleep. Some parents go in there and pat them till the go back to sleep. Some kids will walk into the parents room (careful you do not get embarrassed) and get into bed with parents. Some parents will then take them back to their bedroom till they go back to sleep. Some parents let them stay in the parents bed the rest of the night. Some parents make a pallet beside their bed before they go to sleep so the child can go there if they get afraid, because the parent can't sleep with them in their bed. And then some parents sleep with the child in their bed all night. There is nothing wrong with sleeping with your child to first grade. We are the only animals on the face of the earth who put their offspring in the next room. 75% of my patients sleep with their children part of the night between 2 and 4 yr. old. Just decide how you want to give that security and do it every night. If one parent does not want to get up with them, then the parent who thinks it is important does it. It is best to take turns. Don't let the one who does think it is important force the other parent who wants to let them cry get up. But the parent who gets up and gives that child love and security is going to create more bonding and attachment. It is money invested and you will reap great dividends later at maturity. Think how you feel towards your parents and which one you loved more. And which one helped you when you were tired or afraid. Which one read you the bed time stories. Your child will feel good toward you if you comfort them and they will be better behaved and more willing to do what you ask them to do when they are older if you go comfort them. You will get your investment back 100 fold latter. Get up with now. Sleep when they leave for college.

Dr. Knapp