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Toddler night tantrums/terrors

Hi everyone. I'm hoping someone has as miracle answer for me! My daughter is 2yrs 4mths and has started to have what can only be described as either night terrors or tantrums! She went into a bed a few weeks ago, and although she falls asleep well and settles in her bed quite quickly around 7.30ish, she will the wake around 1ish demanding to come downstairs, ask for milk then just throw herself all over the place in a complete rage!!!! If we don't bring her down the tantrum is 10 times worse and she screams so much she is sick! Last night was the worst night after geting up 4 times, cleaning sick up once, putting her in our bed, then going into spare room etc etc, I think I've had about 2 hours sleep! She won't sleep during the day unless we're in the car and whether she sleeps or not, this doesn't affect what happens in the night.

Has anyone else experienced this? We are getting to the desperate stage, and were wondering if she actually having some kind of fit or something? Its distressing for her and us. I wouldn't know what to say to a doctor.

Hoping someone can help! xx


  • Hi hon

    Doesn't sound like night terrors as they are when the lo is completely unaware of what is happening and doesn't remember it in the morning.

    Is there anything scaring her, any changes - nursery, change of childcare etc? I know what you're saying about it being 10 times worse if you don't bring her downstairs, but would you be able to sit quietly in her room with her for now, so she doesn't realise that she can demand what she likes in the middle of the night, but you are there for her if she is feeling unsettled for whatever reason? Maybe have a beaker of water at the ready for her and say that if she lies quietly you'll sit with her and then stay until she drops back off? Hopefully this phase won't last long.

    Another thing to maybe use would be the old stickers in the morning if she stays in bed all night - is she old enough to understand the concept? xx
  • She's perfectly fine in the morning, a little tired, but doesn't seem aware of whats gone on during the night. We just can't understand why its after midnight? She settles really well at bedtime but something just seems to trigger her off .... she asks for me and when I go to her room she just doesn't want to stay in her bed. We've never used her cot or bed as somewhere she has been forced to stay so she should see it as "her space" where she can snuggle up and we don't want to start a routine whereby she sees her bed as an unhappy place. Hope you understand what I'm getting at. I understand she'll be thirsty sometimes in the night so don't mind a quick drink, but its the mad tantrums she suddenly throws herself into. She thrashes around so much and we just can't console her and its really upsetting. She'll suddenly stop after 10 minutes (seems like hours!) and say "fine now Mummy" and ask to go back to bed!
  • Hmm really odd. Maybe it is a bit more of a night terror then if she doesn't remember it. Two of mine have had them and they were just something that stopped happening, I don't think anything particularly helped or made things worse tbh, it just went over time. It didn't last that long although felt like it while they were happening. I think I would still do the staying in her room thing if you can, give her a drink of water and just try to calm her down there.

    Good luck, it's so hard isn't it?xx
  • I saw a thing on one of these tv programmes (cant remember which one) about night terrors and I'm sure it said if its happening at the same time every night to try waking the child up just before that time and settle them back to sleep
    Sorry - cant remember more than that - and never had to try it.
    Hope it passes soon!
  • I saw a thing on one of these tv programmes (cant remember which one) about night terrors and I'm sure it said if its happening at the same time every night to try waking the child up just before that time and settle them back to sleep
    Sorry - cant remember more than that - and never had to try it.
    Hope it passes soon!
  • My little one has had night terrors and it sounds similar in some ways but not in others, she is not aware of who I am or anything she will stand facing the wall screaming from anything from 5 mins to 20 mins, it is heartbreaking as she won't let me near her and then it just stops she has a cuddle and goes straight to sleep. This usually happens if she is overtired.
    The HV told me if happens at same time each night to wake her 10 mins before that time and then resettle her. Might be worth a try. x
  • Thanks everyone, you've given me some really good advice. Reading what you've put it does seem to be more like night terrors as even though she's screaming for me she doesn't let me near her while its happening. It stops as quick as it starts, and yes it is very very difficult, frustrating, tiring and heartbreaking all at the same time. I just thank god she goes to bed really well and has at least some quality sleep until the dreaded hour she wakes up! I'll try and "google" some more info on the night terrors. Thanks again everyone. xxx
  • Dear moms,

    I have exactly the same problem. I've been searching the net for an answer on how to deal with it and found this forum (maybe i'm a few years behind image).

    Anyway, My 2yo daughter has been having 'midnight terrors' every 2 - 3 am. She would wake up screaming and kicking. She didn't seem to recognize me at all. Each time I tried to comfort her, she'd kick or hit me, it's quite frustrating. And lately, it's getting worse, not only in the night, but she's starting to have tantrums when she woke up in the morning also.

    If you have any tips or inputs, i would really appreciate it. I'm getting desperate image
  • Dear Caremelitapaturi,

    My wife and I have the same situation with our 2y3mnth old.  Three months ago she started with this behavior.  It is not every night, but it happens enough for us to be concerned and for me to search for a solution.  As you describe is the exact same thing that happens with our daughter.  This was not the situation with our now 7 year old son, but she is much a different child to begin with.  I believe that the night terrors have something to do with a seperation anxiety of some sort, as when she was a baby we had he in a seperate room from almost 6 months (but with her brother in the same room),  Her borther and her share a very large room *it was originally two rooms that the common wall was removed to enlarge the room (not by me).  Now that she is not in a crib with 4 wall (as she was climbing over the crib and I feared an injury), we removed the cage and now she has a bed of her own.  Well, back to the issue... she wakes up 1-3 time a night, depending on the night, and it is scary!  I almost feel like she is posessed... her eyes are vacant and dark, I don't know if she is awake and cohearent or if she is still asleep or awake... hard to tell! All I know is that there is nothing we can do to calm her fast...20-30 minutes of screaming, stomping, running around, and just uncontrolablility.  She goes from one room to the next, yelling, calming, and then somthing sparks another outburst.  My wife looses it, I try to calm now both of them...not a good situation for me or either of them.  I believe that my wife started this situation months ago when she would almost run to the bedside of our daughter at the slightest whimper, I would always say, "don't go, gove it time", but night after night my wife would leave our bedroom to go and take care of our daughter.  She even blames me saying I never helped at night, but I say she was not helping by always running to the room after the slightest movement or sound.  Now we have a daughter that wakes us up in such a disturbing way that the nieghbors must think we are abusing our child or that we are neglecting her, but this is not the situation! during the day our daughter is mostly the most loving and cuddly little princess, but on occasion can throw a fit...but this is during the day when the noise doesn't bother us and we can deal with a 20 minute fit... but at night when all is quiet in the complex, this is the problem!  If we were in a single family home with no connected neighbors to hear, I think this problem would have been solved earlier by us letting it go for 30 minutes and then back to sleep, but when you live in a building with 20-30 other families and only a hallway and a few doors to dampen the sound, I am worried they will do something that makes us look like bad parents or worse, not fit!  I only can hope that my wife an I agree on a plan to deal with this, as our lack of sleep is taking a tole on us both! We have tried some natural homeopathic remedies, they don't work or help! I believe that we will have to maybe get a night light for her side of the room, maybe a new "big girl bed" and possibly disconnect the night time trips to sooth her. 

    I just don't know what to do, I only know that the more I read the better I feel as I am not alone.  I don't hear it much from the men...but the women can certainly gove some good advice.  So if you know how I can tell my wife how to stop her habits of coddling our child, please do so!  Lastly, if there are any tricks to making the tantrum shorter or quieter..please send the solution my way!  I don't mind the tantrum, I hate the noise it makes and possible distrubance to our neighbors.

    So to end this long rant, after 2 hours sleep and work on top!  I have to try somehting...this

  • Dear Duriseksk,

    I completely understand what you are going through. Everything you say I relate to. My 19mth old (twin) daughter is behaving exactly the same way. Nothing I do will settle her, and she runs and throws herself around so dramactically that she actually gave herself a bloody nose last night! I'm so afraid that she is going to do a serious injury to herself, but if I try and hold her, or comfort her, she goes into a worse fit. I have tried taking her into the bathroom and turning on the shower, and at times hoping in it with her. It actually has settled her on occassion. I was told that running water (similar to waterfalls) is soothing, and can calm a distraught and negative child. I warn you, if you try this, most likely your daughter will go crazy prior to calming - obviously for all the reasons we have both described - being held etc. And in regards to you and your wife... it is the same for me and my husband. I completely lose it, as i feel like I can not help my daughter, and I'm so afraid she will hurt herself, plus I have absolutely no idea of how to help her. But what i need from my husband in these moments, is for him to take control of the situation, and stay calm as I am not - I need him to try to calm my daughter, take her out of the room etc and I also need him to give me support. A hug or just some kind words. I understand it must be hard on him (and you though) as you are trying to hold EVERYTHING together for everyone. Keep strong together though, as frustrated and angry parents that are at each others throats wont help her, or even your son. Kids pick up on the vibes. and another thing to try, is not to let her get overtired... Good luck!

  • We are having a similar issue with our 21 month old daughter. A happy and cheeky child during the day, going to bed is not a big problem either although she does want us to stay with her until she falls asleep. If you try to leave she would start whinging and it would progress on to crying which does not stop ( I have tried CC as well in the past for over an hour but I only tried it if she was messing around and not trying to go to sleep. If she was lying down I felt okay to provide her comfort through my presence or slight patting.

    Our daughter has never really slept through the night. Even in the recent months, she would wake up around 1 or 2. If it was just a whimper we didn't go in but if it was a cry one of us would and she would be standing up in her cot. Usually she would just lie down again and want us to stay with her until she fell back to sleep.

    But these outbursts in the middle of night are something else. We were on a holiday recently where she slept in our bed each day. On our return it took us a little while to transition her back into her room but bed time routine is back to normal now. 

    Now we have this new middle of the night issue. In the last few days, she woke up around 1, was frantic by the time I got to her room, would not let me hold her or pick her up, thrashed about and generally was very angry. The first day I was trying to pick her up. Next day after reading about night terrors, I just stayed in the room and let her calm down. After 20 minutes of crying she did calm down but didn't go back to sleep. She wanted cuddle and then wanted to come into our room. We have allowed her to be in our bed in the past so I let her. Same thing happened the next day. But after all that she wakes up perfectly happy.

    So last night I thought I should try giving her a choice of sleeping on a mattress on the floor in case being in the cot is causing a feeling of entrapment. Bed time was fine. She opted for mattress and went to sleep easily. Didn't wake at 1 or 2am, so I thought RESULT! but alas, she woke at 5:30. She was out of the bed and standing and crying when I went in. As soon as she saw me, she walked past me into our bed and then started tantrum. Although not as wild and frantic as the night before and she was responding with No's to all my questions/suggestions, I could only deduce that she was cross at not finding me or daddy by her bed when she woke and this was not a nightmare or night terror. Eventually after 15 minutes of crying she wanted a cuddle and then wanted to go downstairs to get some milk. It being nearly 6am by now I figured she may well be genuinely hungry for her morning bottle so I gave her the milk.

    Experienced mums and dads can probably pick out a whole number of things I am doing wrong, but I do not know what I could do really.

    Is it just a phase? I thought that she might be overtired, but she naps 1.5 to 2 hours in the afternoon and looks happy and active.


  • Not sure if anyone will see this as no one has posteI about this in over a year

    My daughter is 2.5 and sometimes goes into these fits of rage either while sleeping or after napping where she screams and cries at the top of her lungs, stiffens her body like a board, starts pulling her hair, scratching or hitting her face even.  This has primarily happens only while she is with my parents while I am working or on errands. The fits get so bad it worries us all that something my not be right. This could not possibly be normal, right?

  • Children do develop routines and sometimes they are very inconvenient routines. My daughter kept waking up at 1am and screaming. We eventually worked out it was because the heating has gone off by then (and she kicks her blankets off) so the cold wakes her up. We improved the heat insulation and now she rarely wakes up

    The sick thing must be a nightmare though. Unfortunately if kids know it will get them what they want they will repeat the behaviour but that isn't an easy battle to win

  • We are raising our 3y/o foster grandson (after raising five children of our own and never encountering this problem).

    We are now experiencing these night 'tantrums'.

    We have worked out a few things but not a real cure. Firstly, the 'tantrum' can sometimes be averted by a distraction. Eg.When it starts, if I can pique Josh's curiosity with an unusual sound or song or story or a short home video on my phone for instance, he will often quiet to see whats going on,stop the hitting  kicking and screaming, accept comfort, climb on my lap, calm down and listen or watch and go calmly to bed shortly after. (I have to have several distraction ideas at the ready as the same one doesn't work every time).

    Secondly this issue is often associated with the need to urinate. If I can get Josh to relax enough to sit on the potty and he relaxes enough to release the urine, there is a usually a large amount of pee released... though often he seems too tense to release it.

    Josh has had what I consider to be an unusual life up to this point, and I am sure he is acting out of stress... He seems to have to blow off steam (in a big way), but he mostly controls himself during the day. When his defences are down in the night in the half awake half asleep phase he can't stifle this out of control behavior.

    He has his worst nights after his routine has been upset... even when it's a great day of fun and activity that is outside his 'same old- same old' home routine.

    We are still studying Josh's 'symptoms' and trying to modify our lives to create even more calm and security hoping to stumble across the underlying cause of his angst. I hope this helps... It makes me feel better that we are not totally alone... I was starting to worry that it was mental illness as that runs in Josh's family line.


  • My kid is 1 yr 4 mts old, since last one week he started throwing tantrum between 1 am to 2 am. He started crying in his high tone, not drinking water, try to feed him breast milk in vain, he is simply out of control.rolling on floor. 

    I tried to take him out of home and drove him in a car- I think it worked he immediatly calmed down, second time I tried this again it worked.


  • il, I feel for you, my eldest had very similar episodes as you describe, also she was about one year older than your lo. We tried all sorts of things, like no milk before, bed or cheese, or iffy stories or programes just pre bed. most nights for about 2-3 months she woke up crying and screaming and then had to come in our bed because she was physically shaking she was so frightened.

    But, the good news is, after a period of time, it all stopped just as fast as it began.

    Good luck, and hang in there. 

  • I have four children - 6, 3 and twin 20 month olds.  These night tantrums have happened with each one so far and we're enduring it with our oldest twin now. The first thing to remember is that they are not awake, even if they look like it. Think sleepwalking , but in tantrum form. Next, stay calm , stay with your child. Try offering a drink, or a change of scene but don't be surprised if it doesn't work. Then wait for it to end while making sure the child dosn't hurt themself.  It will pass.  Try making sure bedtimes are consistent and on time. This isn't a pleasant phase but, like learning th most efficient way to clean up vomit, it's part of learning to be a parent. You can do it. 


  • I just went through my 22 month old daughter's first night tantrum, terror, possession, or whatever you call That!!! Scared the life out of me and my wife who is 6 weeks pregnant. We thought teething, but that wasn't it. She had a little cold, but that wasn't it. Perhaps too warm,  nope. Upset stomach after some ice cream, not this time. NOTHING WORKED! I was about to take her to the ER, I was so shaken. It seems like when she and I were doing our own thing to try to calm her, it got worse, but when we worked together, it only got bad. She loves electronics, so my wife thought up the brilliant idea of giving her the cellphone. She calmed down. Sounds like enabling bad habits, but hey, like you said; at least the neighbors won't think we're beating the kid to death and we live in a single family home(yeah, that loud). Pigeon was correct, kids pic up on vibes, but it seems the first tactic that children learn for survival is manipulation and they will use it at the time that's most right for them and least right for you. So a united front is the best way to take care of these challenging moments. We're learning the hard way about too much coddling, and I think you are right that it's connected to separation anxiety, and the survival instinct that this is what I need to do in order to get what I need from the big people who speak gibberish all the time. However, I noticed that when my kid has a cold, we give her a homeopathic cough medicine that helps her rest well. I believe that it does more bad than good, as she wakes up in the middle of the night more frequently perhaps due to her normal sleep cycles might be changing. So she might have a bad dream, wake up very tired, cranky, and drowsy and throws a fit that sounds like 10 cats fighting. Then the fit makes her even more exhausted. She took that cough medicine tonight. I'm taking it back to the store tomorrow. Good luck mate. As a woman with three well rounded girls once told me, if they're fed, dry, well, and put down, leave them alone. Might be good advice for the wife. But it's hard to undo the patterns we start with our children. They're changing enough themselves at a ridiculous rate. It's like a midlife crisis on steroids. They depend on us to be routine. When the routine makes the child the boss, the boss will want to punish the employee for breaking the routine. When the routine makes the child's NEEDS the boss, everyone's happy and there is balance in that. A child needs structure, boundaries, and two parents that run the same playbook in taking care of their needs. There's always an anomaly of course, but teamwork makes what seems like an end times event feel like a temporary issue. 

  • your not alone. 

    For over a year my daughter who is nearly 2 now.. had had exactly the same thing. 

    She wakes up .starts crying and it quickly progresses into an uncontrollable tantrum however she's very tired when this happens and mostly has her eyes shut and seems half asleep. But terrified. 

    It seems so bad I've described it as a fit too. She can hardly get her breath from screaming so much and nothing stops her. I have to carry her around the house until it stops and when it's over she's so tired she's quickly asleep. 

    I myself have suffered night terrors since I was little and still do and I was so afraid she would have the same thing. It's so distressing to watch . 

    I'm sorry to hear about your little one but it's good to know my baby isn't the only one xxx

  • Not sure if this will be read but our 4 year old has woken up twice in the middle of the night. Mind you both occasions she went to bed later than usual. 

    However this has happened previously when going to be usual time. Just this time the events occurred 2 days apart 

    It started with a whinge and calling out to mum. Mum came and laid down next to her, she then yelled at her angrily stating mum never listens to her and she is very angry at her, this then turned into an hour long tantrum. 

    Mum and dad both up. Daughter screaming raising  her voice. In the corner or up against the wall. Couldn't calm her, didnt want to be touched. 

    Wanted fruit toast but we didn't have any, tantrum continued. Wanted yoghurt and blueberries, and asked for it to be stirred in, mum made it then she cracked it again because mum stirred in the blueberries. Dad made yoghurt and didn't mix it in. She then cried because the yoghurt was turning blue from the berries. 

    After a complete hour, she wanted to go to bed. And that was the end of it.

    We have moved recently about 5 weeks ago. Noticed an increase of tantrums at home, raising her voice alot at mum and dad, yelling and whinging. 

    But at school the teachers way she is perfect, play with friends and so on 

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