I know they are not uncommon, and we are not alone in dealing with them, but night terrors are scary for parents. Watching one unfold is horrible. You feel helpless, there’s no way to comfort or help your child and seeing them in such a chaotic state is not something any parent wants to see.
My 4-year old started having night terrors much earlier than most kids, around the age of 2 1/2. Though it’s unclear what causes them, many experts, including our pediatrician agree they could be the result of an erratic sleep schedules or any type of sleep deprivation. This would explain why hers started at 2 1/2, because it coincided with her decision to eliminate a nap. Yes, HER decision. No matter how much I tried, my daughter had a mind of her own and is stubborn and stopped napping well before any of her friends.
Once her body adjusted to not napping, the night terrors subsided for the most part. Now at 4-years of age they really only rear their ugly face when she has a super busy or out of the ordinary day. Basically, these are the days when she becomes overly tired and should take a nap, but refuses and will do everything to avoid it.
In the end that means my husband or I will be up numerous times overnight. She will be screaming, kicking, crying and thrashing about her bed. We always go in to try and comfort her, and to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. We wait it out, until she eventually wake up. I know the experts say not to wake a child who is having a night terror but we’ve found that if we don’t wait until she is awake, she continues to have the night terrors through the night. However, once she is actually up, she tends to fall back asleep very quickly and has no recollection of what just occurred.