Nightmares and Night Terrors: Overview

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 03:16pm
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Here are some points to help parents tell the difference between a nightmare and a night terror.


  • Nightmares usually, but not always, occur in the last half of the night.
  • Your child will be awake, or nearly so, and glad that you have come to him.
  • With nightmares, comfort your child right away. The sooner you respond, the sooner your child will settle down, so all of you can get back to sleep.
  • Physical reassurance is important. Hug your child or rub her back until she calms down.
  • Reassure your child that it was only a scary dream, even if it seemed real.
  • Double-check that your child's favourite toy or blanket is tucked in with her, make sure the night-light is on, and remind her you will be close by.
  • Remember that most children experience nightmares at least occasionally even babies after they are 6 months of age.
  • In some children, the terror of a nightmare may linger for hours, and may even make them afraid to sleep.
  • If your child is not easily comforted by you, or nightmares are frequent or their effects are long-lasting, discuss this with your child’s doctor.

Learn how to cope with and prevent nightmares

Night Terrors

  • Night terrors usually, but not always, occur in the first half of the night usually about 1-2 hours after the child has fallen asleep.
  • If your child bolts upright with eyes wide open, looking scared and panicked, screaming in distress, sweating, breathing fast and with a rapid heart rate, your child is likely experiencing a night terror.
  • Although it will seem like your child is awake during a night terror, your child will not recognize you and will not be comforted by you. After a few minutes, or sometimes longer, your child will simply calm down and return to a peaceful sleep.
  • Although children tend to remember having a nightmare, children usually don't recall having a night terror.
  • If you are able to wake your child up, she is likely to become scared and agitated, mostly because of your reaction to the night terror, especially if you shake her or yell at her to wake up.
  • It is usually best to just make sure your child is safe. Only intervene if you think she will injure herself or if you need to guide her back to bed.
  • Night terrors are unbelievably hard on a parent, because the screaming is frightful and relentless. A night terror typically lasts from 5 to 25 minutes. Once it is over, your child may return to peaceful sleep on her own, or she may wake up. If she wakes, you can help her get back to sleep.
  • If your child gets night terrors, discuss this with your child’s doctor.

Learn how to cope with and prevent night terrors

Make sure that babysitters and other caregivers are aware that your child has night terrors and know what they should do if one occurs.

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Your 3-year-old

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 10:17pm
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By age three, your child is becoming more and more her own person and you'll be able to get a real sense of personality. Your child will gain self-esteem and a sense of who she is. Children are not as afraid of being abandoned now, and are generally optimistic and cheerful.

Your child is probably more willing to please you, but that won't stop him from expressing his own unhappiness and opinions about things. This is actually a step forward, because your child will learn to stand up for himself, so try not to discourage it totally.

Your three-year old will be sociable and capable of some cooperative play, although she still won't be great at taking turns or sharing. She may spend more time negotiating how to play, and with whom, than actually playing. For example, "I'm not playing with you today, I'm playing with her."

Your child will be getting better at pretend play, with themes and stories, not just roles. His play may often have a "danger and rescue" theme with him taking the lead as the strong character, like Superman or a lion. Try to give your child the opportunity for play, both alone and with others, as often as possible.

By now, your child will begin to understand simple rules and be better at controlling her impulses. There may be fewer tantrums, because she can express herself and her feelings better with words. She may label feelings, like "I'm mad" or "I'm tired."

Your child will also begin to understand that other people have feelings too. He will have more understanding of what "no" means, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll do what you're telling him. Setting consistent limits and expectations continues to be important at this stage of development.

Remember, each child is unique. Not all children develop at the same rate in each area, such as movement, communication and relating to others, so this information is meant only as a general guide. If you have concerns about your child's development, you should consult your child's doctor.

How did your 3-year-old behave? What do you remember about that age and stage? Leave a comment and share your experience with other parents just like you!

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Mornings with your preschooler: Trouble getting up & out

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 04:57pm
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These days, with both parents working in most families, mornings can be a difficult time as everyone tries to rush out the door. The result can be that each family member ends up unhappy and stressed -- as if you've already put in a day's work. But the bottom line is, you have to get to work, and your child has to get to school or childcare.

Consider the following reasons why small children dawdle in the morning:

  • Your child may not want to leave the comfort and safety of home for the outside world.
  • Your child may find it hard to move as fast as you want her to, because that speed doesn't match her natural rhythms.
  • Your child may still be tired and sleepy in the morning, so if you push him to hurry, he becomes stressed. If your child is tired almost every morning, he may need to go to bed earlier in order to get more sleep.
  • Your child may be worried that you think your work is more important than she is.

If your child seems tired, reassure him, but explain that he still has to get ready. And as frustrated as you might become, never yell at or physically hurt your child. Lastly, when you drop your child off, let him know that you're not angry with him and make it clear that you are coming back.

Learn more about making mornings more pleasant for you and your child. 

Share your comments below and let us know the strategies you’ve used to get up and out the door in the mornings with your preschooler.

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Making mealtime nutritious and pleasant for your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 06:28pm
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Here are some practical suggestions for helping your children to enjoy eating nutritious food at mealtimes:

Have meals and snacks at regular times, which helps children's bodies learn to expect when they will be fed.

Offer your children only nutritious snacks between meals which won't let them get too full. This includes carrot sticks, apple slices, peanut butter on celery, and fruity yogurt. 

Encourage your children to feed themselves as much as possible, whether with fingers or utensils. Acknowledge your child’s behaviour-“You ate all your vegetables by yourself tonight, you are getting so grown up.”

Try to relax about the amount your children eat, and which foods they eat. This keeps the tension levels down and makes mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family.

Try to give your children at least one thing you know they like at meals, as well as something you'd like to introduce them to. But don't worry if they don't eat the new food. Sometimes it takes several exposures before little children learn to like a food.

Let your children tell you when they are full. But before they leave the table, make it clear that they will not be allowed to return for snacks until some reasonable time has passed.

Try to make sure your children have eaten at least a little solid food before giving them a drink. Drinks can be very filling.

And, try not to nag your children about eating. Avoid being very disappointed or angry when they don't eat much of what you have prepared. It will be easier for both of you over the long run, if you can take their refusal somewhat lightly.


We know that mealtimes and be especially challenging for parents. How do you make mealtimes happier and healthier for you and your child? Share your comments below!


Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about nutrition and your preschooler? Our expert, Karen Soper, is a Holistic Nutritionist and has been practicing holistic nutrition since 2003. Ask Karen a Question!


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