What do you do when your kid has sleep tears? That is our question today on Tips on Teens. My name
is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. I'm the founder and clinical
director of Teen Therapy Center, and also the executive director of the non -profit organization,
Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon,
I answer your parenting questions here on Facebook Live, and here is today's question. My daughter
has been having night tears lately. She never remembers them, But they freak me out. How do I
help her stop having these episodes? Are there any risks that are associated with these experiences?
So first for those of you who don't know what a night terror is or what a sleep terror is It is not
a nightmare. That is a something different A nightmare is a bad dream that you feel bad about
you wake up. You're scared. You're uncomfortable and You know, it just doesn't feel good that
is usually happening during REM sleep
You know a lighter area of sleep where all our dreams are a night terror happens usually in a deeper
Level of sleep usually the night terror happens transitioning from that deeper level going
to REM happens mostly to kids Usually by the time kids are teenagers. They've kind of grown out
of it Usually teenagers and adults if they have it, it's very rare can be caused by alcohol and
drug abuse or or reactions to medications. Let's stick with kids. How many kids get it? Well,
it just depends on which study you look at. I've seen studies that say three to 6%. I've seen studies
that 40 % of kids get it. How many kids get it? I don't know. If your kid has it, that's all that's
important, right? So a night terror, this is what it looks like. Two to three hours after your
kid goes to sleep, wakes up, looks like they're awake, eyes wide open, heavy breathing, panting,
rigid body, or maybe they're screaming, yelling, thrashing about, and it's really scary for
a parent because you were probably asleep
too and you run into your kid's room. What's going on? What's going on? And your kid's not responding
to you, and it's very traumatic for parents because you're bleary -eyed, you're not thinking
with your clear head, and what do you do about this? Here's the good news. Almost always, kids
have no memory of these experiences at all. Almost always. Because again, it's happening in
a deeper part of sleep. Usually, if you just let your kid have this experience within a couple
minutes or a couple seconds, they'll calm down, go back to sleep. It's like it never happened.
They'll wake up, you say, how's your sleep? They'll say, fine. Usually. Of course, there are
exceptions. We are all individuals. The common recommendation is do not try to wake your kids
up. You may just, you know, aggravate them more. Stay calm. Now, anecdotally, I do know parents
in my practice who do wake their kids up and it works, but some it doesn't. You got to know for your
kid what works and what doesn't work. Sometimes
trying to wake your kid up is going to aggravate them, but you do want to keep them safe. It can
be unsafe if your kid starts sleepwalking and there are stairs and you're afraid your kid's
going to tumble down the stairs or your kid's bumping into walls or hitting things. You may need
to help restrain your kid. Unfortunately, when you restrain them, it can aggravate them even
more. But important is to stay calm. It will pass. It feels like forever, but it's only a minute
or two. So it's important that you stay calm. And it's again, it's tough because as a parent,
it's midnight, you've been asleep for a couple hours, you're not thinking with your, you know,
all your faculty there because you're half asleep yourself. So again, most kids will grow out
of it. What was there's nothing I want to say about this? Oh my gosh, I'm forgetting! That's what
happens when you're alive. You don't have notes in front of you, you just forget sometimes.
I must have a sleep tear and disrupted my sleep. Ah!
When is it a problem? Usually it's not a problem. However, it can be a problem if it is affecting
sleep, if they're tired all day, if it's happening frequently, if it's going into the teen years,
if it's creating a safety problem. Then you may want to see a pediatrician who focuses on sleep
and or you know or hypnotherapist. I've seen people do that. Go to his doctor if there's any medication.
See if the medications can be affecting that. But again, the most important thing is stay calm.
Stay calm. It's your kids experience. They're not gonna remember it. There's no lasting effects
emotionally that we know of. So just stay calm. Help them go through it. Help them go back to sleep.
Somehow you go back to sleep, although now you're wired up like you just had a cup of coffee because
your kid is screaming like you're in a horror movie. But most likely they're gonna be okay. Anyways,
that is our topic for today on sleep terrors. Please keep sending us your questions. We love
You can email us your questions at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or direct messages
right here on Facebook. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center and Child
and Teen Counseling, and we'll see you next Wednesday at noon here on Facebook Live. Bye -bye.
Kids today are able to access information about sex earlier and with more ease as a product of our digital age. Parents understandably may want to step in and make sure their kids are learning information that is appropriate and accurate. This week’s #TipsOnTeens question is from a family wondering when to have the discussion about sexual health with their kids:
“What is the proper age to talk to kids and teenagers about sex, sexual identity, safe sex, etc.? And do I cover everything all at once, or are those different subjects talked about at different ages?” Additional resources in talking with your kids and teens about sex, sexual identity, etc.:
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.