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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, for the past 2 nights, my just-turned-3-year-old has been waking screaming and crying. Not afraid- in a dream tantrum. I've been sleeping with him, so I've gotten some of the "waking up talk" and he's tantruming- in his sleep. The 2 times he did it last night, one was fairly confusing ("Talk to the phone, Mommy!" "Talk on the phone? To who?" "NO! Talk TO the phone!!!". In the second dream, he apparently wanted a ball he was not getting, waking up screaming and crying and demanding a ball.<br><br>
Since he is dreaming, it is PARTICULARLY impossible to discuss it after he wakes up. He's a bit disoriented (and so am I) so discussing it logically is hard, if not impossible. I've tried telling him it is a dream, but he's so into it, even after waking, that he will still scream and cry and tantrum even though it was not real and I can do absolutely nothing about it.<br><br>
I suppose I am writing because 1.) I worry about the little guy. I suppose he's just having some developmental growth, but it might help to hear if other kids do this and 2.) What in the heck should I do? Last night I got so frustrated, I just got up and walked out for a few minutes, letting him scream. I myself was woken from a deep sleep and had a bit of brain fog as to why I was suddenly being verbally abused about a ball and that I could do nothing to calm him down and he was so irrational- I got up and walked out. I may have even yelled a bit. It's not what I want to do, but I was so caught off guard in the middle of the night. Again, he was not afraid. It was a full-on tantrum. He's been having a few during the day and definately in a "No" phase and there is some change going on....<br><br>
Its hard enough to talk logic and reason to 2/3 year olds. What do you do when logic is <i>completely</i> impossible? When "It was a dream." gets a response of "Gimme my BALL!!!! YEAHHHHHHHH!"
 

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When my son wakes from a nightmare, one of the most calming things I can say to him is, "Did you have a bad dream?" That's worked for me for the past couple of years. I can't say if it will work for you, but worth a try. A dream about something frustrating that makes you want to have a tantrum is a bad dream.<br><br>
It's okay if you got up to get your head together when woken from a deep sleep. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The problem is that he <i>doesn't</i> understand its a dream. He's so disoriented from sleep and filled with adrenaline and "angry juice" that he can't "turn it off" and by the time he does, he's totally awake- at 3am.<br><br>
I've asked him/told him its a dream. I've asked him to tell me what was the matter and what he wanted or what was wrong. But he's so pumped and sleepy that he isn't really able to seperate what was the dream and what is happening now.<br><br>
The other downside is, by the time I can actually convince him that he was sleeping and that there is no issue, he's totally awake and I have to try to get him to bed again.<br><br>
My general policy with night time wake ups is to keep them as calm and soothing and quick as possible to go back to sleep before he starts saying things like "I want to get up and go play now" <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> . This doesn't seem possible here, then we end up with a real tantrum when I tell him we have to go back to bed.
 

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It sounds like night terrors.<br><br><a href="http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/sleep/a/night_terrors.htm" target="_blank">http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/sleep...ht_terrors.htm</a><br><br>
He's not awake when he's talking to you. I'd personally not call being terrified in sleep "tantruming."<br><br>
Is he able to calm in your arms once he wakes?
 

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So let him wake totally up, play a while, have a snack and go back down?<br><br>
My son in his 3rd year would have night tantrums. It was best to let him wake totally up, pull myself out of bed, let him play and snack, get a hug and some redirection (we did not talk about sleep or dream... maybe we would talk about the time at the zoo where the duck followed us, or... etc). Then we would start totally over with the bedtime routine. I would assure him that he did not need to fall asleep (he was not scared, just avoidant), he just needed to come and lay down with me, relax, and he could hum, sing, or tell a story. Usually once I had him redirected and then calmed down again, he would easily go back to sleep. What did NOT help was a movie or a show (out of my selfish urge to placate him so I could sleep); the two times I tried to do that, he simply would not go back to sleep.<br><br>
One time, I had a meeting to go to late at night. My son had JUST turned three. Right before we left the house he was screaming over shoes. He did not want them on. He did not want them OFF. He screamed and screamed. I go him in the car, started the car, talked calmly and told him that the shoes were no big deal; we would do it however he liked when he figured out what he wanted. With that he fell fast asleep. I expected him to sleep through the meeting and through the night.<br><br>
I sat in the meeting with him asleep on my lap. No-prob-lemo! About an hour and a half into the meeting, however, he woke. He woke SCREAMING.<br><br>
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" "NOOOOO mommy, please. Please don't mommy... NOOOO!!!!"<br><br>
I was horrified. I tried to console him. I tried to reason with him. He just got louder and more upset. The room was silent. The whole meeting was horrified.<br><br>
Then... "Noooo... DON'T TAKE OFF MY SHOES!!! I WANT THEM ON! ON! ON! ON! OOOOOONNNN!!!!"<br><br>
I have never been so relieved in my life. Granted, he had a full blown tantrum (his shoes WERE on, by the way), and it still disrupted the meeting. But people must have thought that I was poking my child with knives at first.<br><br>
He was sound asleep for all of it. Night tantrum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>chfriend</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9083943"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It sounds like night terrors.<br><br><a href="http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/sleep/a/night_terrors.htm" target="_blank">http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/sleep...ht_terrors.htm</a><br><br>
He's not awake when he's talking to you. I'd personally not call being terrified in sleep "tantruming."<br><br>
Is he able to calm in your arms once he wakes?</div>
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No, he's not terrified. He was not fearful- just mad! He wanted his ball, and I wasn't giving it to him (in his dream). When he "woke" he was screaming and crying, not in fear, but in tantrum mode.
 

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My oldest did (and sometimes still does, age7.5) the very same thing. When she was about a year old, we called them tantrums b/c we didn't know what was going on. We just knew it resembled daytime tantrums. If we talked to her or tried to touch her, she'd scream louder and crawl away. It didn't take us long to figure out that despite the open eyes, she wasn't really awake. As she got older, she'd say things like "no, mommy!" and "I want that." So we knew she was dreaming.<br><br>
We found that there is nothing to do but wait for her to wake up, then tuck her in. She remembers nothing in the morning. If we talk to her, it gets worse (and she might answer, but it makes no sense). If we touch her, she not only screams louder but hits/kicks/fights (it's as if she doesn't know us and is afraid of us).<br><br>
I haven't found a description of a sleep disorder that fits, though it's very much like a night terror (with anger/frustration more than fear). It's like sleepwalking, but much louder. I have found that following the advice given for responding to and preventing night terrors is what works here: don't talk or touch her while it's happening, good nutrition, regular sleep schedule, stress reduction.
 

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My son has been waking up once a night with a "night tantrum" almost every night for the last couple months. We've been going through a lot of changes--we just moved, I'm pregnant, etc.--so I've chalked it up to that. "Night tantrum" really is a good description of it if you don't mind the term tantrum in the first place. It's related to night terrors, I'm sure, but the emotion is pure pissed-off and frustrated at some dream thing that he feels out of control about. No fear at all. Sounds exactly like yours.<br><br>
What I finally found that worked for my ds is to not touch him or be too close to him, but to quietly repeat everything he's saying until he relaxes and goes back to sleep. The validation works much better than it does in waking life! He definitely hears me, although he's definitely asleep (unless he wakes himself up with it).<br><br>
Good luck. I know that sensation of waking up to a night tantrum and feeling sort of indignant (but there's not even a ball here!), irrational as it is.<br><br>
Embers, that story is hilarious.
 

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This is EXACTLY what my dd(22mos) has been doing for the last few weeks...and I would call it tantrums as opposed to terrors...She sounds distressed at teh beginning but then she gets MAD and if I try to help her, touch her she gets angrier..when I wake her up she clings to me and won't go back to sleep.<br><br>
I looked up night terrors and it didn't suit but then I read this and it's exactly right..she is have night tantrums. I have also noticed an increase in day tantrums lately too..but I expect that's the age.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Here's a pretty good explanations: "episodes of screaming and agitation, especially in toddlers and preschoolers..."<br><br><a href="http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/N/night_terrors.html" target="_blank">http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/N/night_terrors.html</a><br><br>
They are not awake. There is nothing to do but try to gently wake them and get them back to sleep. Getting frustrated or asking them to behave rationally or gently while they are "sleepwalking" will not help.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>sledg</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9085591"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">We found that there is nothing to do but wait for her to wake up, then tuck her in. She remembers nothing in the morning. If we talk to her, it gets worse (and she might answer, but it makes no sense). If we touch her, she not only screams louder but hits/kicks/fights (it's as if she doesn't know us and is afraid of us).<br><br>
I haven't found a description of a sleep disorder that fits, though it's very much like a night terror (with anger/frustration more than fear). It's like sleepwalking, but much louder. I have found that following the advice given for responding to and preventing night terrors is what works here: don't talk or touch her while it's happening, good nutrition, regular sleep schedule, stress reduction.</div>
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As a child I regularly had issues like this as well as full blown sleepwalking. I taught myself to not sleepwalk after having an experience that scared me. But as an adult I still have incidents of talking in my sleep and incidents where I would normally leave the bed but somehow I have an internal alarm that keeps me in the bed...anyway, the point is that my dream world is so vivid in the moment that I can't seperate it from reality without totally waking, but if someone wakes me (as opposed to waking myself) the disorentation is amplified and I become increasingly frustrated, confused and angry. I can't imagine being the parent dealing with someone who is clearly upset but as the person who ends up upset I can say that conversation makes it harder for me to go back to sleep. My parents would often just say "go to sleep" to me but if they tried to have a coherent conversation with me it made things worse. When I was young I had a terrible time waking myself enough to end the incident and would get quite stuck in them. As an adult I've learned to redirect those incidents. I know this isn't really advice, but maybe it helps with all the advice you are getting to hear a bit about how it is on the child's end.
 

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Maybe what your ds is experiencing is "Confusional arousal". "Confusional arousal" is the term applied to a variant of night terrors in older infants and toddlers.<br><br>
Here is some information on it<br><a href="http://www.drgreene.com/21_1148.html" target="_blank">http://www.drgreene.com/21_1148.html</a><br><br><a href="http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/C/confusional_arousals.html" target="_blank">http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/C/c..._arousals.html</a><br><br><a href="http://www.sleepeducation.com/Disorder.aspx?id=3" target="_blank">http://www.sleepeducation.com/Disorder.aspx?id=3</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nightterrors.org/dis.htm" target="_blank">http://www.nightterrors.org/dis.htm</a><br><br>
The term parasomnia refers to a wide variety of disruptive sleep-related events. The most common type of parasomnias are disorders of arousal, which include confusional arousals, sleepwalking (somnambulism), and sleep terrors. Experts believe the various types of arousal disorders are related and share some characteristics. These arousals occur when a person is in a mixed state of being both asleep and awake, and usually coming from the deepest stage of nondreaming sleep.This means the person is awake enough to act out complex behaviors but still asleep and not aware or able to remember these actions.<br><br>
If this is parasomnia then it is a sleep disorder and not really a discipline issue. As a mom of a 5 year old DD who has sleep talked, sleep walked and experienced night terrors at various times, I know that this can be very scary. Does anyone in your family have these kind of sleep problems? These problems can be hereidtary. I know in our case my daughter probably inherited them from me. I both sleep talk and have occasionally experienced sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is the experience of waking up (usually form a dream) and feeling paralyzed, except for being able to breathe and move the eyes. Sleep paralysis is a very terrifying event.<br><br>
You want might to post something on the The Family Bed and Nighttime Parenting board. They seemed to have a few discussions on there about this type of issue in the past.<br><br>
Good Luck,<br>
Angela
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>sledg</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9085591"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My oldest did (and sometimes still does, age7.5) the very same thing. When she was about a year old, we called them tantrums b/c we didn't know what was going on. We just knew it resembled daytime tantrums. If we talked to her or tried to touch her, she'd scream louder and crawl away. It didn't take us long to figure out that despite the open eyes, she wasn't really awake. As she got older, she'd say things like "no, mommy!" and "I want that." So we knew she was dreaming.<br><br>
We found that there is nothing to do but wait for her to wake up, then tuck her in. She remembers nothing in the morning. If we talk to her, it gets worse (and she might answer, but it makes no sense). If we touch her, she not only screams louder but hits/kicks/fights (it's as if she doesn't know us and is afraid of us).<br><br>
I haven't found a description of a sleep disorder that fits, though it's very much like a night terror (with anger/frustration more than fear). It's like sleepwalking, but much louder. I have found that following the advice given for responding to and preventing night terrors is what works here: don't talk or touch her while it's happening, good nutrition, regular sleep schedule, stress reduction.</div>
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We experienced exactly what you describe here last night (and have, occasionally, in the past). We'd been away since Friday night, schedule totally disrupted, dealing with a ton of people around (no matter how loving). From what we could understand in her speech, dd was processing <i>every last bit</i> of the accumulated stress of the weekend.<br><br>
My cue that she was totally asleep? "Nooooo!! I want to flush the big stinky!" <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>AnnasMominPA</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9092072"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I both sleep talk and have occasionally experienced sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is the experience of waking up (usually form a dream) and feeling paralyzed, except for being able to breathe and move the eyes. Sleep paralysis is a very terrifying event.</div>
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Ugh, yes, yes, yes...I think I blocked the sleep paralysis out. That was a regular occurence for me when I was young. Thankfully, not anymore. I still vividly remember at least one occurence of this, and it was the reason that I was unable to sleep on my back until just recently.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">No, he's not terrified. He was not fearful- just mad!</td>
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My 2 yo has done this for several months now. I know the difference between his fear and his anger, and his wakings definately involve him being angry, every time. He is a *very* difficult and touchy child anyway, and it seemed to just be a continuation of his daytime issues. It has gradually slackened off a little so it's only 1 or 2 nights a week instead of every night.<br><br>
For a while there, I was waking for the two year old more often than I was waking for my newborn! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">:
 

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My son just started doing that this week! He does wake up so mad.<br><br>
No advice (I am reading avidly) but sympathies.
 

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I agree, they're terrors.<br><br>
DS had them -- both the kind where he was afraid and the kind where he was angry...<br><br>
My advice from dealing with ours is a bit different. Don't wake a night terroring child, and don't remove them from wherevver they're sleeping (ie, don't get up and sit in a rocking chair, turn on lights, etc).<br><br>
My experience (and this was borne out by others I've shared this with) is that since they're not awake, what happens if you manage to get them fully awake and conscious is that they freak out even more. And they freak out even MORE if you get them fully awake and they're in a new place or position with lights and talking and motion.<br><br>
What worked for us was just firm holding - a firm hand against his chest, only *slight* rubbing, if any. Gently press toward the bed, while only making reassuing sounds, not trying to explain. I usually repeated, "It's okay, Mama's here," very softly, over and over. More of a sound than anything with meaning. The pressure touch and the repeated words seemed to center him, stabilize him, and let him go back down into sleep that wasn't disordered sleep.
 

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My almost 3 yo son hasn't done this, but as a child (and even in college) I would occasionally "wake up" from a dream where something very intense or important was going on, and try to communicate with people who were awake (parents, roommates). They thought I was awake (and I thought I was awake, too), but I made no sense, and would get SO upset and frustrated that I couldn't make them understand what I was urgently trying to convey. I would INSIST I was awake and feel very misundertood if I was told I was talking in my sleep. This sounds like a more grown-up version of confusional arousal. I wonder if the kids perceive themselves as awake, even though they're not. A PP mentioned validating being the thing that worked the best. If the toddlers are experiencing something similar to what I did, then this probably IS the best thing. Being told I wasn't making sense only made me angry and frantic. Maybe if someone had pretended to take me seriously I would have gone back to sleep. I had forgotten all about this until reading this thread...
 
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