The night terrors started a few weeks ago. That first night, I didn’t know what was happening. “Mommy! I don’t feel good. I’m so scared!” Wren sobbed uncontrollably while sitting straight up in her bed, her eyes locked on mine, pleading for me to help her. I was scared.
These episodes continued sporadically and with a little Googling and a little conversation with friends, I was able to name these experiences as night terrors. I learned that these sleep disruptions were normal and sometimes occur as the brain develops and kids transition from one stage of sleep to another.
Right around the time that we became homebound, the terror came nightly. I knew when to expect it, but I didn’t feel like I knew how to help. I’d reassure Wren she was safe, that I was there, that she was going to be ok. Sometimes there terrors lasted a few minutes, other times for much longer.
Finally, I reached out to a friend I met through Wren’s dance class. She is a school psychologist and I thought maybe she’d have some insight or at least reassure me that this was still normal. She told me that her daughter had gone through a similar phase and that now, before bed, they talk about things that are wonderful.
So that night before bed, we all talked about the wonderful parts of our day. When Wren woke a little after 11pm, her fear wasn’t as intense and she seemed more sad than scared. I talked her through the moment by saying, “Let’s think of something wonderful…” and I went on to name some of the things she had talked about before bed. She was sound asleep again within minutes.
These episodes have continued, but are much better. The “wonderful strategy” is helping to shift Wren to a positive place. The wonderful overcomes the terrible.
These days, I find myself trying to name the wonderful from my own day, when I need to create my own calm.