Night Terrors???
We got a 3-year-old little girl on Wednesday. We are able to get her to sleep ok enough...not super easy, but we are getting a routine down. But after about an hour or so she will wake up and just cry...and then it happens multiple times in the night. We are kind of wondering if it's night terrors since she just doesn't respond at all when we ask her what she wants or if she's scared, etc. Last night we ended up just letting her cry herself back to sleep after going in and checking on her for the 5th time...but I hated it! Any one else out there dealt with a similar situation? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Her little sister is 14-months-old and has been in the hospital but we are hoping she can come home tomorrow. Would be great if we could find a way to keep her sleeping or calm her more quickly so she doesn't wake her sister up....2 awake will be even worse than 1!
Our 3 year old also has night terrors. They can be really horrible. We ALWAYS get to him as quickly as we can and try to help him know he's safe by speaking to him calmly and either rubbing his back or picking him up. He often calms down very suddenly without seeming to wake and is just abruptly sleeping peacefully. We don't know if he wakes up enough to realize he's safe or if the nightmare just ends. We often feel that we don't know what we're doing so I don't really have advice; except that I would NOT let her cry herself back to sleep. Our little guy's night terrors have become far fewer since the first month or two he's been with us so I do believe your little girl's will get better, too, as she feels more safe and settled there. Poor kid.
You've only had this little girl for 2 days...give her a chance to settle in and get to know you. Right now, you're basically a stranger...and many small children have a survival instinct that makes them afraid of strangers.

Has she been removed from her mother's home for very long? If not, she's very likely to be grieving for her. Small children love their mothers, even if they abuse or neglect them.

I would focus on making her feel safe and secure in her new home. I wouldn't worry too much about her crying waking up the new baby. I would worry more about about her fears and her loss at this point.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible that she's just having night terrors. Most kids this age experience them, and you're right, they often don't respond to vocal reassurance...because they're still in a sleeping state, kind of like sleep-walking.
is she hysterically crying or just crying? my former fd Coconut would cry in her sleep a lot, but she never woke up and it wasn't hysterical crying. so i just let her be and eventually she would stop. she never remembered it in the morning either.
My AS had NT's. It can be really bad. An article in a magazine saved our lives! My son had them for 6 yrs. We never knew what to do. Turned out for us that a simple, easy and FAST method was in that article.
You have to break the cycle of terrors. We sat outside his bedroom door after he went to sleep (his happen like clock work) as soon as he started to stir we woke him up. Got him up to go potty, have a drink or both.
He had to really be awake though, thats why we had him get up and talk and go potty.
Once the cycle was broken the NT's stopped. I cant explain it, I just know for us (and I'm guessing others since it was published) it worked!
It said it could take a couple of weeks to break that cycle but for my son it was a few days.
We were up almost all night on those days because he had multiple each night but OMG after not sleeping through for 6 yrs when it was over the sleep was heavenly because there was NO WAY you could sleep through his NT's!

ETA: My son was not awake in his NT's. He was very much unaware and unresponsive to anything we did once he was in one. It had to run it's course.
My youngest is six, and until last week he was sharing a bedroom with my oldest, 10, and since his brother moved to his own room he has woken up almost every night and comes to my room crying. He isn't having bad dreams, I think it is just that when he does wake up he realizes his brother is not in his room any more and he doesn't have the comfort of knowing someone is there. Maybe she is just waking up naturally and is afraid? I don't sleep well and two of my boys sleep the same way I do, we don't sleep deep and wake up enough often during the night.
When FS, 2 yo, had these at first, we weren't sure what was going on. It didn't happen often, but several times. He wouldn't open his eyes, screamed louder if we rocked him, screamed louder if we put him down, etc. We tried a cold, wet rag on his face, but that didn't work. Tried laying down with him, but that didn't work. We tried several other things, all of which didn't work.

Then one night out of frustration I figured I would offer him the one thing that he never refuses ... food. As soon as I said, "do you want some food?" the crying stopped and he opened his eyes. It was like a switch. We gave him a little piece and off to bed he went, with no other issues that night.

So that was the tactic we used from then on. It gets him out of that cycle, calms him, and he sleeps great the rest of the night. It isn't a lot, usually a small piece of something, just enough to chew. A few sips of juice would also work. He wasn't potty trained at this point, still isn't, so we skipped the bathroom thing.
My four year old had them....as did a toddler. I will say that they never woke anyone else. I think the other kids know mom has it handled and it just isn't a big deal.

The toddler was the screamer. It was hysterical. Night terrors often last 10-20 minutes. We'd pick him up, but if we put him back down before it was truly over (something pretty tough to judge until I found out there was a time pretty universal to night terrors), it was worse than ever. Finally, we figured it out. Anyway, he had them nightly most of the time we had him. And then they went away.

With stbas, his was triggered by needing to go to the bathroom. It took a second neurology visit to figure that out! He would sleep walk, talk, not be able to follow directions (put underwear on his head), wet even if standing at the toilet, etc. He peed on hubby three times! LOL

Anyway, eliminating the trigger (in this case, him gaining enough night time control not to need to wake up to potty) solved the problem.
don't give her herbs, melatonin , etc.
whatever you do, do NOT give her benedryl, melatonin, camomile, sleep herbs, etc. These supplements can CAUSE night terrors!

Ask her pediatrician after a few weeks. Try lots of warm milk, 5 minutes before bed and no protein snacks after 5 pm. Good luck . If it goes for more than 3 weeks, ask for services. A "play therapist" can help her to work through the issues during the daylight hours.
OhioFosterMom said...
whatever you do, do NOT give her benedryl, melatonin, camomile, sleep herbs, etc. These supplements can CAUSE night terrors!


We had this experience too! Took the advice of a LOT of well-meaning friends and family members (and one case Worker), used melatonin on our 3 year old Foster Son - WORST NIGHT OF OUR LIVES! We didn't get any sleep and the poor little guy just screamed for hours!

We just had to kep going to him and rubbing his back untill the Terror stopped, it took about 2 months for them to stop after placement. We did find out that he had them at a previous placement, but was not there long enough to adjust. Figuring out a solid night-time routine I think is what helped us tremendously - we did bathtime, read or watched a short (calmer!) cartoon, and have about 5 minutes of "hold me" time where we talk about his day and what he is going to dream about that night. I think allowing him to feel safe was key in dealing with them, but true night-terrors there is a chemecal element to them...so asking a doc is definitely key!

Now after visists with Bios or from Caseworkers, we will have to be up a few times that night just to let him know that he is safe and with us.

Good luck!
We experienced night terrors with a 2 yr old placement we had. It was exactly the same...only an hour or two from the time he would fall asleep he would wake up screaming and crying. When you go into her room does she have a blank stare on her face and does it take a few seconds for her to kind of come out of it? If that's the case, then she is definately experiencing night terrors.

We took our FS to a therapist. The therapist did short little 20-30 minute sessions with him. We actually saw a difference after the FIRST session. He only needed about 6 sessions and the terrors were gone.

Get her into a therapist. It works. The therapist should only schedule sessions that are as long as your FD stays interested. If they are too long, your FD will get bored and not want to go back and you won't get anything accomplished.

This advice is coming from someone who called BS on therapists...up until I saw how this worked for the night terrors and we were back to getting a full nights sleep.
Though I was not a foster child, I had nightmares, night terrors and slept walked as a child. Mom figured out I was needing to go to the bathroom, and would get me up and take me, and I would never really wake all the way up. When I would sleep walk, I would actually go stand in her room, eyes open, and she would wake up, tell me to go pee, and I would turn and go, all while still asleep. From what I've read, this is common in a lot of children, but worse in those with trauma. I would definately seek therapy, but also limit the liquids at bedtime. I eventually outgrew the nightmares, terrors, and sleepwalking, all about the same time. There is hope.
Thank you everyone for your advice. We have just continued to go into her room when she wakes up and rub her back, talk to her until she falls back asleep. It's now down to once a night. We have her little sister in another room now (we just ended up moving the crib) so she doesn't wake her up...because she did end up waking her up and then we had 2 kids crying.

We have tried to get a bedtime routine started from day one and that really seems to help. I also think us spending all weekend with her and having her sister with us (we picked her up from the hospital on Saturday morning) has really helped.

I do think that they are night terrors... it isn't hysterical crying, she has that blank stare some one mentioned and she doesn't respond when we talk to her. Hopefully they will become better as she continues to feel more comfortable.

The only bad part is that the girls are actually from the other side of the state and will likely be transferred back some time this week (their parents were visiting here when they were arrested). I plan on writing a very detailed note to send along with them so their new foster parents will have as much info as possible. I just hate that they are going to be moved again just as soon as they start to get used to being here and with us. We have said we will take them as long as they need us to so that they coan find a permanent place for them before moving them.

Didn't realize this would get so many responses...hope it helped some others out there as well.
Our first placement had them ,he was three.

We discovered when he got an afternoon nap, he stopped having themSmile

Tam
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