Parenting Now!

Bumps In The Night – Nightmares and Night Terrors

In this blog post from the Triple P Team, we discuss toddler sleep issues, including nightmares and night terrors.

Do you remember having nightmares as a child? If so, you might recall how real they felt to you, how hard it was to fall back asleep after a particularly scary dream, and how wonderfully comforting snuggles from mom or dad were during those late nights.

As a parent, it can be startling to hear your preschooler cry out at night, unsure of what the reason might be. If you’ve established that they are safe, not sick or in pain, or just calling out for extra late-night snuggles, the culprit might be a nightmare or night terror.

Bumps In The Night

When it comes to nightmares and night terrors, there is a difference. The more common form, nightmares, are usually experienced by children 3-5 years old.

Another way to think about nightmares is simply bad dreams. During a nightmare, your child wakes up scared and upset, but will usually settle once you’ve comforted them.


Nightmares commonly appear toward the morning and can sometimes reflect stressful events from earlier in the day. If your child is having frequent nightmares, it might be a good idea to track the frequency and content of the dream. Sometimes nightmares can hint at possible stressors or emotional upset in your preschooler’s life.

Night Terrors

Although much less common, Night terrors are unfortunately more severe. Night terrors most often happen in the first couple hours of falling asleep when they are in a deep sleep.

For tips on how to help your child work through their nightmare or night terror, read the full blog post at


This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson ( 

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