Most expert say that Night Terrors isn’t something we, parents cause – in other words, we don’t do this to our children. It is often said that night terrors might run in the family. Perhaps. For us, adopters, this is something we can neither confirm nor deny. 😦
But I do wonder if my boys’ difficult past somehow plays a part…
My 6y old boy has night terrors almost every night. Sometimes it’s ‘just‘ screaming, sometimes it’s screaming and sleep walking, sometimes it’s screaming and sleep walking with eyes wide open! I remember I freaked out so much the very first time it happened! I couldn’t believe he was not awake. I didn’t know why was he crying. I only saw that he was trembling, his bed was soaked with sweat and his face was wet with fresh tears. These days we know what’s happening so we try to catch him before he comes down the stairs, we gently guide him back to his room, push his head back onto the pillow and he goes back to peaceful sleep in no time with no recollection of it the next day.
There are nights when we don’t catch him in time so he comes into the front room and starts talking to us. His eyes are open, he comes to the settee, sits down and says words or sentences that usually make no sense. Sometimes they do – once he and I had a proper conversation; I asked something, he responded, he asked back, I responded and he nodded. It was so odd! The only giveaway way the fact that his eyes weren’t focusing on anything. After a short chat I walked him back to bed. As expected, he had no memories of our conversation the next morning.
Night Terrors are scary!
Not for the child, for us, witnesses. I still struggle to accept that they are completely unaware of what’s happening to them. I looked around on the web to learn more about it, but it seems to be still an area that needs a LOT MORE research. I did find a website called the Night Terrors Resource Center that had some very useful information.
I have asked the children’s Social Worker several times about this, but her only response was ‘It’s no big deal, they don’t remember it anyways, besides, I used to have night terrors as a child and I grew out of it’. At this point I lost my cool and asked back ‘and how is that suppose to help me?’. Even the play therapist said that ‘since it’s not an experience the children remember it’s very hard to tackle it and help the children heal from it’.
Sometimes night terrors are scary even for the children!
A few nights ago 6 had an extremely violent night terror. He was screaming for over 30 minutes and there was nothing we could do about it! He was in his brother’s room – effectively waking and scaring him too – shaking and shouting ‘tell mummy I love her!‘ Both my husband and I ran upstairs and we took him to the bathroom. His whole body was shaking, his lips were trembling and he kept on saying the same thing to me ‘tell mummy I love her’. Now, this is the point where we, adopters get unsure: is he talking about me or about his first mum? There are good arguments for both…
Almost everybody agrees that waking a child in the middle of a night terror is not a good idea. Normally we don’t do it, but he was so distressed that I tried to wake him. I even put a cold and wet face cloth onto his face, but nothing worked. Husband was in the other room trying to calm down his brother. Once he came back he picked our little one up and carried him back to his bed. As soon as he put his head on the pillow he was back to peaceful sleep. The next morning he came to me and said he had a bad dream. He couldn’t recall any details, just a deep sense of worry and fear. My heart was breaking for him. We reassured him he is safe and well loved and said the lie parents often tell their children ‘it’s only a dream, don’t worry about it‘. And he didn’t waste any more thoughts on it. It was only my hubby and I who keep worrying that their past experiences somehow influence their dreams.
As I understand night terrors are not (bad) dreams per se and therefore are not connected to the subconscious mind processing the daily events. But then how do you explain the incident last night?
Night terror can be connected to daily events
Yesterday 6 had a small incident. We were in a park and he went from ‘I don’t need a toilet’ to ‘I am desperate‘ in 5 seconds (as most children would) so we started to walk home. Sadly he didn’t make it to the toilet and he wet himself in the porch. Needless to say he started crying. We kept our cool and told him ‘there is no reason to cry, go upstairs and mummy will shower you‘. He kept on crying. I thought it was because of the shame. It turns out I was wrong. He was crying mostly because he was afraid we will yell at him and be angry. (Birth father didn’t tolerate such ‘stupid behaviour’ and punished both boys severely every single time.) I reassured him we are not angry, but he kept on crying and asking ‘How can you not be angry?‘ We did the whole ‘look at my face, do you see anger’ routine while I try to give him my best smile, but he still wasn’t convinced.
Fast forward to bedtime, I put him to sleep without a problem. 30 minutes into his sleep we heard a door open, elephant steps marching to the bathroom and then something falling onto the floor tiles. Hubby went up thinking the older one was messing about only to find 6 literally peeing into the washing basket!
He was so shocked for a second that he didn’t know what to do. Then he chose to talk to him. It became clear very fast that 6 was not awake even though he was acting so. Hubby was very cross because all our clothes were now smelling of his wee. I couldn’t stop laughing. Yes, it’s bad, sure, but if you take a step back and look at the big picture it’s pretty funny! It IS impressive for him to wee into the relatively tall washing basket, especially when you think he isn’t even consciously doing it! 🙂
While hubby took the basket down to do an emergency wash I walked my son back to bed. He kept on saying ‘I don’t want to race‘ which had clearly nothing to do with today’s events, but the fact that he took himself to the bathroom to relieve himself HAS TO BE connected to today’s events of him worrying about not getting to the toilet in time!
Do you guys think they are connected?