2 year old and nightmares/terrors

deedlesdeedles Registered Users Posts: 2,467 Curl Connoisseur
Twice this week Liam has woke up crying in the middle of the night... saying "Scared, Scared"...

I didn't know 2 year olds have nightmares.. I always thought it happened much later in a child's life?
anyone else's kid experience this?

Liam: 6 years old
Colin: 3 years old
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Member Since: August 2000


  • Brown_Eyed_GirlBrown_Eyed_Girl Registered Users Posts: 1,353 Curl Neophyte
    I used to babysit a three-year-old who had nightmares. She was watched horror movies with her dad when I showed up though, so I'm sure that didn't help.
  • ScrappyTamScrappyTam Registered Users Posts: 470
    Nightmares and night terrors are two totally different things. If your child wakes up and remembers being scared, it is most likely a nightmare. This is true if they remember it in the morning.

    With night terrors, the child can wake up screaming and may not even recognize you. This is probably a night terror. While these are very scary for a parent, your child will not remember the event.

    The first time my daughter had one, it totally freaked me out. She looked like she was awake, but did not respond to me. Then she, fell right back to sleep. If she had one, I would talk to her. Saying momma's here. You are safe at home in the bed. Anything that was very soothing. The night terror would usually only last for a few minutes.

    Something else to be aware of. If a child gets too hot, they tend to have more nightmares. So, if you keep it warm in your house, you may want to consider lowering the thermostat just a bit.
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  • nynaeve77nynaeve77 Registered Users Posts: 7,135 Curl Novice
    Danae occassionally has night terrors. She started having them around 18 months. I find she's much more prone to them if she's overtired. If she stays up much past her bedtime, she almost always will wake up in the middle of the night crying and scared. (that's why I try to be vigilant about her naps and bedtime) From what I've read, it's pretty common around this age; kids don't always know how to interpret what they see throughout the day, and sometimes it comes out as a bad dream, even though they don't really understand the concept of dreams yet.
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  • sarah42sarah42 Registered Users Posts: 4,034
    A few weeks ago, Connor woke up around 3 or 4 a.m. crying hard. He didn't say anything but Mama, but that's the only time something like that has happened when he wasn't sick. I figured it might be a nightmare. It took a while to get him settled down and back to sleep. Luckily he's only had that happen once.
  • NetGNetG Registered Users Posts: 8,116
    The above reasons are all possibilities-especially being sick, or just overtired for some reason or other.

    Have you had any kind of change in routine lately, or has Liam in any way had a change in the stimuli around him? A lot of the time what seem subtle changes to you can be enough to cause this as the kid learns to process changes.

    No, I don't have kids. No, I'm not a psychologist. My family's just... unique... and we've had a lot of conversations w/ psychologists over nightmares and night terrors..
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  • CynaminbearCynaminbear Registered Users Posts: 4,476 Curl Connoisseur
    All of my kids have had night terrors. They're not really awake, even if their eyes are open. Talking soothingly to them helped a bit, sometimes holding them, too. Fortunately our terrors didn't last long.
    When my oldest was around 3 he woke up in the middle of the night with growing pains in his legs. I started giving him a calcium/magnesium supplement for kids each day and that ended any waking up in the middle of the night.
    Cal/mag can also help over tired kids get better sleep, which might help out with the night terrors.

    As for nightmares, I don't know at what age they start. I definitely noticed them happening more when we started toilet training. As my mom explained to me as a kid, the brain is trying to wake me up so I can get to the bathroom. Sometimes that turns into a nightmare. She always instructed us to go to the bathroom and get a small drink of water. That always cleared my kids' heads by the time they got back to bed. When they were little I'd take them to the bathroom, of course, and help them out.
    I noticed more nightmares and resless sleeping on nights they went to bed late, especially after an exciting evening.
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  • inheritedcurlsinheritedcurls Registered Users Posts: 2,954 Curl Connoisseur
    Your not alone deedles. Chas has had a couple in the last month. Usually he wakes up screaming momma. Sometimes, all it takes is for me to pat him and other times I have to pick him up and hold him for a little bit. I have heard him just scream out once. I went running but by the time I got there he was already back to sleep.

    Glad to know it's normal around this age.
  • jmwjmw Registered Users Posts: 130
    My daughter started having night terrors when she was four. She is now 8 and she will still have them on occassion. When I say "night terrors", I mean that she is out of her bed/walks downstairs/walking in circles, and saying things that don't make any sense. Any attempt to communicate with her is futile. She hears me speaking to her, but her response to what I say to her is ... nonsense. She does know who I am though. Most of the time, when she's having a terror, she comes to find me. It is scary when it happens. And she never remembers any of it.
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  • irishprincessirishprincess Registered Users Posts: 40
    Some things to think about would be:
    Diet - Anything overly stimulating (sugar, caffiene, foods with addivtives, dyes, preservatives) can really wreak havoc on their tiny bodies. We always make sure that if we do consume anything like that, it's no later than after lunch so their bodies can try and cleanse themselves of it before bedtime.
    Stimulation - Especially later in the day, tv, shopping, visitors, any situation where they are being bombarded with stimulation can be very stressful to them, even if they appear to be having fun or don't seem bothered by it when it's happening. Their minds still are trying to process it all, and that's a lot of work for their developing brains.
    Family situation - Relationships that are tense, change in routine, lack of structure are all things that will stress them.
    I don't know what your family does or what your normal routines are, but there's a lot to be said about being vigilant in creating a complete atmosphere of security, calmness, healthy habits and soothing, reliable routines. It's our job to fight for that for them. Hope it gets better soon!

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