Although every toddler is different, I’m curious to know if anyone else out there has experienced their toddler waking up from a nap or during bedtime screaming bloody murder, sobbing uncontrollably and wanting to be held and carried around like an infant? I’m talking about anywhere from half an hour to two hours!
At first, I thought it was night terrors but my little one seems to recall what happened and just yells, “I want mami! I’m scared! Mami I need you!” Could this just be bad nightmares?
Well, according to kidshealth.org, “Nightmares — like most dreams — occur during the stage of sleep when the brain is very active and sorting through experiences and new information for learning and memory. The vivid images the brain is processing can seem as real as the emotions they might trigger. Nightmares tend to happen during the second half of a night’s sleep, when REM intervals are longer. When kids awaken from a nightmare, its images are still fresh and can seem real. So it’s natural for them to feel afraid and upset and to call out to a parent for comfort.”
I can relate to this. Mia is definitely processing tons of new information and learning so much at her age such as potty training and the accidents that come along with it. So what’s the best thing to do to calm our little ones down? Not sure I have a perfect answer for everyone but what seems to work for us so far is to hug her and tell her in a soft voice “Mommy’s here. You’re safe. Todo esta bien. You’re ok.” If it’s still dark, we tell her it’s night night still and reassure her she’s safe and we need to go back to bed until the sun wakes up. If she’s waking up from a nap, I hug her and carry her outside to look at the birds. If it’s too cold out, I hug her while she watches a Sesame Street episode.
I have to admit though, there are times where the only thing that helps calm her down is simply to carry her while I do chores around the house and give her tons of hugs and kisses. These are the moments that although tiresome and exhausting, are so well worth it as she will eventually grow out of it and not want to be smothered more so during her teenage years. But, I seriously can’t think about that right now.
Ok, back to the research. Kidshealth.org, also goes on to say that “By about preschool age, kids begin to understand that a nightmare is only a dream — and that what’s happening isn’t real and can’t hurt them. But knowing that doesn’t prevent them from feeling scared. Even older kids feel frightened when they awaken from a nightmare and may need your reassurance and comfort.
I definitely agree as I too recall dealing with my share of nightmares as a kid — like most kids do. So it sounds like my husband and I will go through a series of these frightful moments with our little one but eventually they too shall pass.
Would love to hear how you handle kid nightmares. Any specific advice on how you calm your little ones down?
Cheers to smothering!