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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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my girlfriends daughter is 3 years old now and many times she

Customer Question

my girlfriends daughter is 3 years old now and many times she wakes up screaming and crying and sounds exactly like an infant. Shes not wet or hungry or says ever if anything is wrong at all. We dont know what to do.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for consulting Just Answer. When did the crying first start? Have there been any recent life changes for the child? Thanks!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
no recent changes in the past 15 months .. from what she has told me her daughter has done this forever...
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Even in infancy?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thats what every infant does... i have my own kids and all infants cry. Its unavoidable.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Since the child is a bit older, she may be experiencing night terrors. Night terrors are sleep disturbances in which a child may suddenly bolt upright in bed, cry, scream, moan, mumble, and thrash about with her
eyes wide open, but without being truly awake. Because she's caught in
a sort of a twilight zone between being asleep and being awake, she's
unaware of your presence and isn't likely to respond to anything you
say or do. As many as 15 percent of children have night terrors at
some point, typically beginning in the toddler and preschool years and
continuing up to age 7 or even adolescence. An episode can last
anywhere from two to 40 minutes, and when it's over your child falls
back to sleep abruptly with no memory of the incident.

On the other hand, she may be having a nightmare.
Unlike a night terror, a nightmare leaves your child truly awake — she
can remember her dream and sometimes talk about it, and she'll seek out
and feel comforted by your presence. Also, children have nightmares
during dream (REM) sleep, often in the early morning hours between 2
and 6 a.m. They commonly have night terrors, on the other hand, in the
first few hours of the night, during deep non-dream (non-REM) sleep.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a night terror and a
nightmare, is to ask yourself who's more upset
about it the next morning. "If your child is more agitated, she had a
nightmare. If you're the one who's disturbed, she probably had a night
terror." Rest assured, the "terror" of a night terror lingers far
longer in the parent who watched it than in the child who lived it.

If the daughter is having a night terror,
do not try to wake her. And expect that your efforts to comfort her will
be rebuffed — a child having a night terror really can't be calmed
down, and if you try to hold her it may make her wilder. Unless she's
in danger of hurting herself, don't attempt to physically comfort her.
Just speak calmly, put yourself between her and anything dangerous (the
headboard of her bed, for instance), and wait for the storm to pass.

There's no definitive way to prevent night terrors because no one knows
exactly what causes them. What is known is that, on their own, night
terrors do not mean a child has a psychological problem or is even
upset about something. Night terrors can result from an erratic or
insufficient sleep schedule or any type of sleep deprivation. Solving
any other sleep problems your child has (such as getting up in the
middle of the night) and making sure she has a regular bedtime with a
calming routine and gets enough hours of sleep can help ward off night
terrors. In certain cases, night terrors can be triggered by sleep
apnea, a serious but correctable disorder in which enlarged tonsils and
adenoids (normal tissue in the throat) block airway passages during
sleep, making it difficult to breathe and prompting a child to
partially awaken.

The child may need to be evaluated by her pediatrician just to be on the safe side.

Hope this helps.
proexpert37 and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thanks but i failed to mention she will cry like that when awake as well just if she is unhappy about something.. The issue id like to make the #1 point is that when she cries it is just like an infant. just waaa waaa waaaa so loud and uncontrolable like she cant even stop when she starts...
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Does she have any younger siblings or attend day care? She may be imitating younger children like the infants to try to get her way with hopes of manipulating her parents.