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Children today are under enormous pressures rarely experienced by their parents or grandparents. Many of today's children are being enticed to grow up too quickly and are encountering challenges for which they are totally unprepared.

Don't wait for him to turn 10 before you reveal that you are not in fact the hired help whose job it is to clean up after him.

Some hope their children will be like sponges soaking up the truth and wisdom imparted by their parents. However appealing this philosophy might be, it seldom seems to catch on with their children.

You cannot reason with someone who is being unreasonable.

Parents are the external regulator for kids who cannot regulate themselves.

We should not medicate the boys so they fit the school; we should change the school to fit the boy. (Leonard Sax, M.D. Ph.D)

The quickest way to change your child’s behaviour is to first change your own.

"The thing that impresses me most about North America is the way parents obey their children"    (King Edward VII , 1841-1910)

Setting limits teaches your children valuable skills they will use the rest of their lives. One day, they will report to a job where their ability to follow rules will dictate their success.

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. (Peggy O'Mara)

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Night Terrors


Question from a parent – “What are night terrors?”

Night terrors are completely different from nightmares or bad dreams. They are sometimes called sleep terrors since they can occur during daytime naps as well as nighttime sleep. Any parent who has witness a child in the process of a night terror will understand completely why it has the name – it can be terrifying for the parent to observe. During the night terror, your child will wake suddenly, and she may let out a panicky scream or a fearful cry. Her eyes will likely be opened and her pupils dilated, but she won’t be seeing. She may hyperventilate, thrash around, or talk or yell in a confused incoherent manner. She may be sweating, her face flushed, or heart racing rapidly. She may jump out of bed or even run around the room. She’ll act as if she’s being chased or threatened, or she may appear to be terrified by a horrible nightmare.
Actually, your child is not frightened, not awake, and not dreaming. She’s sound asleep and in a zone between two sleep cycles, somewhat stuck for a few minutes. When the sleep terror passes, she’ll resume the cycle that was interrupted. She did not have a nightmare and is unaware of what’s happening and won’t remember the episode in the morning. So the “terror” part of night terrors is named not for the child but for the parent who watches the disturbing scene.
Now that you understand what night terrors are all about, it should take some of your fear and concern away. While it may still be difficult and unsettling to watch your child during an episode, you can rest assured that your child is neither awake nor frightened.


What Should You Do About Night Terrors?

A parent’s natural response upon seeing the child acting terrified is to hold him and comfort him, however, your child is not awake nor aware of your presence. You may try to hold him, but trying to hold a thrashing child during a night terror usually results in his pushing you away or fighting you off – making the whole thing even more frightening for you. In this case, you can try a gentle pat or touch along with a series of comforting words, but realistically these might be more to give you a sense of doing something to help rather than achieve any real purpose.

If your child gets out of bed, you can try to lead him back. If he’s sitting up, you can try to guide him to lie down. There is no value in waking your child up; in fact trying to wake him may just prolong the episode.

Your goals are to keep your child safe by preventing him from falling out of bed, down the stairs or banging into furniture and to get him back to bed after the terror has run its course.


Should You Talk About the Night Terror to Your Child?

Given that your child isn’t aware of what’s happening during the episode and since he has no memory of it and can’t control the night terrors, there’s no reason to talk to him about what’s happening. Actually, doing so may just upset him and cause him to worry or fear bedtime. While you shouldn’t talk to your child about them, do remember to talk to a grandparent or baby-sitter who may tend to your child during sleep time. If your child has older sibling, talk to them as well. Let them know a little about night terrors and reassure them that what happens during them is normal. Tell them exactly what might happen and how to handle a situation.

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2720 Rath Street, Putnam, Ontario

Phone: (519) 485-4678
Fax: (519) 485-0281

Email: info@rickharper.ca


Parents' Comments

“Our daughter was the joy of our life until she turned 13, then all hell broke loose. Rick helped us understand what was happening to her and we made some adjustments that helped us get through it. She’s now in University and doing well.”

(D.A. – St. Thomas)