Friday, April 15, 2011


(disclaimer: this is not my foster child nor did I take this picture)

I think Tina is having night terrors. I have never had a child that HATED sleeping as much as she does. She has settled down SOME, but often still wakes up at least once a night screaming. To get her to even go to sleep we have to swaddle her like she is a new born. We also have had to do this with Lizzy to make sure she stays asleep at night. These are two VERY big kids to be swaddling. We assume that it gives them a secure feeling and that is what lulls them to sleep, but did I mention that they are BIG toddlers and having to wrap them up like they are infants seems a little ridiculous at this point.

But, we do it because WE like to sleep too.

Shocking, I know.

Usually my husband is the one who gets up and checks on Tina. He goes in, tells her to be quiet and that is usually the end of it. Well, it has gotten to be a regular thing so I told my hubby that I will take care of it for a while. So, 2 nights ago when she started screaming I went into her bedroom. She was wiggling around in such an odd way and was moaning and crying when I got there. I told her "It's ok" and just repeated that as I tried to help her get snuggled back into bed in a way that she seemed to like. I started rubbing her face and as awake as she had seemed when I first walked in she then fell right back into a deep sleep very suddenly and it was like it never happened. It was honestly quite odd, like she was doing it all in her sleep but just appeared to be awake.

I am looking into different things that may help her to sleep more calmly, I'll let you know if anything works.


CherubMamma said...

We had a foster child (2 year old) that had night terrors. It's scary because they are quite different from nightmares. After tons of internet research, we handled them by making sure to never wake him up during a terror. Some of the things I read said that waking the child will actually make it worse because they become so disoriented and scared they can't tell the difference between what was happening in their dream and what's happening as you wake them.

If it's a night terror (vs. nightmare), odds are Tina isn't awake - even if her eyes are open. So your soft approach was perfect. We used to just pick Jordan up and hold him until he stopped screaming. He calmed down much faster when we didn't try to actually wake him.

The first few terrors I tried very hard to "snap him out of it" by waking him up...saying things very loudly...getting him to sit up...things like that. His reaction to being woken up was much more severe than when we just hugged him through the terror instead.

Best of luck. I remember holding little Jordan trying NOT to think about what horrible stuff he had lived through that caused him to be so scared at such a young age.

Meredith said...

Poor kid!

You might try a weighted blanket - it provides some of the same sensory "holding" that swaddling provides.

Swaddling might seem ridiculous, but trauma can cause kiddos to need some of the sensory input that infants need. Cuddling, rocking, swaddling... it own't last forever, but it will help her feel safe (and help everyone sleep!)

Is there anything that might help remind her that she's safe? A photo of your family, or something else to help ground her in reality when she wakes up?

Tammy said...

Since April 4th I have used lavender oil with Jozie and she is sleeping through the night. I just put a drop on the bottom of her feet and rub her feet together. She thinks it is funny and is now expecting it as part of her bedtime routine.

Anonymous said...

We have the same issues with our oldest daughter!! We ended up putting a t-shirt over her pillows that had a bit of lavender on it, and my perfume or my husbands cologne so she knows she is safe and can smell us. Works fantastically!

Anonymous said...

lavender oil

Anonymous said...

My daughter was adopted after a traumatic early start--4 years long. Lavender doesn't help her, but melatonin does.

If it is night terrors, though, it's a stage four sleep disorder that has a genetic component but requires a trigger to set off. There isn't much you can do. And, probably the brain needs this processing time.

Not. fun.

Carol said...

We had severe night terrors at our house. I thought and prayed about it. It came to me that something so frightening and upsetting would not come from God. There was only 1 other place such terrible things could come from. It came to me that the enemy of peace cannot harass where the name of Jesus is being verbalized. We started playing Michael Card's CD, "Sleeping in Jesus" softly and on repeat continuously all night.

Night terrors left and we have not had even one since starting that. All kids in our house now sleep with that CD playing in the background.

Faith said...

Our boy used to have those...we used heartbeat bears (eBay) and when he woke up screaming we would just go in his room and turn it on (they are on like a timer) and then pat his diapered bum like you do when you hold babies on your chest. We couldn't pick him up because it made it ten x worse and then when he settled again he would wake up when u put him back on bed. Boy those were the days. Thank god he finally outgrew those. Hope your nights get quieter soon!!