Jump to content

Tantrum or terror?
how do you tell the difference?

  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 sakura73

Posted 01 November 2012 - 09:56 PM

I have posted in the sleep forum but was hoping for some advice here too!

DS (14 months), who was previously a good self-settler, has started absolutely screaming when he is put into his cot. To me it sounds like a scream of terror, and it doesn't pass whether he is left alone with me coming in every 2 minutes to soothe or whether I sit next to him and pat. Only being picked up works, and he'll scream again the minute he is put down. Tonight I held him from 8pm to 10pm before he was finally deeply enough asleep not to notice being put into the cot (yes I know that is creating bad habits but one does what one must!)

Like I said, it sounds like terror to me. But DP thinks it is 'just a tantrum' and that I should not reward the behaviour by picking him up.

I feel like 14 months is too young for a tantrum. And to be honest I would probably pick him up anyway because the sound of his screaming makes me feel so ill.

But - how do you tell whether your child is scared or just cross? Does it alter how you respond when they are screaming for you?

#2 poss71

Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:04 PM

OP, I asked in your other thread just now and I'll ask again here: what could he possibly be terrified of?

Logically, it's highly unlikely that he's even remotely terrified.

Doesnt necessarily mean the only alternative is he's having a tantrum though.

Somewhere in the middle, is much more likely.

#3 sakura73

Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:08 PM

Thank you for your replies! I don't know what he could be terrified of (nothing bad has happened in the cot in the last couple of weeks, there is been no big change to his schedule) and I know it sounds a bit over-dramatic to use the term, but both his nanny and I feel like that is what the cry suggests.

But even if it is something less than 'terror' it is fear - seemingly fear of being in the cot.

#4 squirt081

Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:13 PM

A terror cry is very different from a tantrum cry.. When DD (3yrs) is scared of something and screams/crys it is a blood chilling screaming cry, DS is 21mths and has just started tantrums but hasn't had a  terror cry yet. Maybe your DS is having nightmares and going to bed is scary.

Yes I respond differently to terror then what I do with tantrums. With terror I cuddle tight and tell her it's ok, I will protect her, keep her safe and that nothing is going to hurt her.  I do it really softly, gently and I recognise she is scared. I stay with her until she has calmed down and the fear has gone. With a tantrum I tell her what she is feeling, that it's normal and will pass. I also tell her to take a deep breath in and out, another one is think of pretty flowers and butterflies.

OP I would trust your feelings esp if you are the main carer, Oh and 14mths isn't to young for tantrums

#5 poss71

Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:14 PM

Trust that you are there to protect him and a cuddle from mum can fix almost anything. If you believe there's nothing to be scared of, then he will come to recognise it too (if that's the reason for the cries).

In any case, keep up the cuddles but don't feed this with fear/concern. You can be sympathetic yet still quite matter of fact about it being bed time. (this, coming from someone who used to sing a silly OTT 'happy bedtime song' carrying DD1 down the hall as she screamed her difference of opinion about bedtime lol)

Unless of course, it appears he is in pain or discomfort, in which case I would offer Panadol/nurofen as appropriate and if he fell asleep without further fuss, a trip to the GP first thing in the morning would be in order.

EFS: neurogenic instead of nurofen, iPad, really?

Edited by poss71, 01 November 2012 - 10:16 PM.

#6 Lazycow

Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:32 PM

My 19mth old done a similar thing at around 16-17 months. She would wake up screaming, sometimes a cuddle would be enough to settle her, but other times even holding her was impossible, she would scream, stiffen up then start lashing out, whilst screaming (she actually punched me in the face one night) ohmy.gif. Anyway I thought maybe she was having nightmares and waking up scared, which resulted in the next few bedtimes  being a nightmare. I spoke to the MCHN and she told me it was unlikely to be nightmares or being frightened because she was too young to understand the notion of  being scared.

This carried on a few more nights, and about 10 days after it started I noticed her back teeth had started to come through, and this was what was most likely to be waking her up and in turn she perhaps associated bedtime with teething pain. So before bed she would have a dose of Nurofen and after 4 nights she started sleeping better and once her teeth came through, touch wood things have gone back to normal. original.gif

Hope this helps.

#7 treefalls

Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:49 PM


My son is 2y8m and has only just recently experienced night terrors. It is definitely quite different from his usual screaming and carrying on that happens quite a lot!! He has been a terrible sleeper at times and, although I don't know your child, I can say that sometimes screaming is a think they 'discover' and play with... just like any other fascinating thing. I think a lot of kids go through a phase of experimenting with the sound of it and the power of it, not to mention the spectacular reaction it produces!

For us, waking up crying/screaming is something he tends to do when he's really tired and loses grip on himself... so I think the context of sleep/tiredness can really turn this into a pretty tiresome habit. But as the parent of a couple of screamers, I can definitely assure you that screaming can be something that a kid does for pretty much no reason and there may not be much you can do about it if that's the case except concentrate really hard on making sure they get plenty of sleep and don't work themselves up into too much of a state.

I wouldn't think it would be to do with the pain of teething, but probably the sleep disturbance from teething that would play into the issue.. so you could  definitely try Neurofen if you're open to it, just in case it helps.

Good luck!

#8 Froger

Posted 01 November 2012 - 11:09 PM

You're his mum, I think you would know. If he sounds terrified he probably is.

14 months is very little to be sleeping by himself, maybe he can sleep with you on the lounge or something until you go to bed, then take him with you to your bed when you go? For what it's worth, in my non-expert opinion, I don't think anything "bad" has to happen to a tiny child to make them terrified of going to bed alone and screaming until their mum comes in to hold them. 14 months is still so little, it's completely natural to want to be held and cuddled by your mum instead of being by yourself in the dark.

#9 BearBait

Posted 01 November 2012 - 11:21 PM

DD 2.5yo doesn't seem to have any problems with her cot, The Dark etc. However, she has discovered that howling like a banshee or yelling 'PeePee in the cot' tends to bring us running. All she wants is cuddles & playtime.

#10 poss71

Posted 01 November 2012 - 11:31 PM

QUOTE (BearBait @ 02/11/2012, 12:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
DD 2.5yo doesn't seem to have any problems with her cot, The Dark etc. However, she has discovered that howling like a banshee or yelling 'PeePee in the cot' tends to bring us running. All she wants is cuddles & playtime.


Also, 'mummy, I need a bucket for my vomit' - courtesy of Miss 3.5, who was NOT even close to vomiting, merely hanging face down half off her bed inspecting the underside and not yet ready for sleep (in her opinion).

#11 littlecat

Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:17 PM

We went through this a couple of months ago. She would cry and scream when it came to bedtime and even if we settled her with cuddles etc as soon as we went to leave the room she would lose it again. It was really tough but one night we just walked out of her room, shut the door and let her cry. It really only lasted for about 5 mins or so and after that she didn't do it again.
It could just be a phase? That's what I put it down to  original.gif

#12 sakura73

Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

Thanks all for your experiences and suggestions. I did try leaving him to it today but after 20 minutes he had become utterly hysterical and I gave up. He thus missed his afternoon sleep and fell asleep much faster tonight (but in my arms; I wasn't up for any more screaming).

I am sure it is a phase, and I don't begrudge him the time it takes cuddling him to sleep. I just wish I could help him find his way back to self-settling, because he used to love his cot so much.

#13 treefalls

Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:44 PM

QUOTE (sakura73 @ 02/11/2012, 10:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am sure it is a phase, and I don't begrudge him the time it takes cuddling him to sleep. I just wish I could help him find his way back to self-settling, because he used to love his cot so much.

He will again Sakura. You sound like a very patient and loving mummy... all of these phases gradually morph into the next thing and sometimes disappear altogether. It's great if you can soak up the cuddles while there are still plenty to be had!

#14 L&E

Posted 10 November 2012 - 04:55 AM

14 months is very young, and I agree that your intuition as a mum is usually spot on.

Who is to know why the cot now "scares" him. Maybe he has come to realize you're not there and finds being alone scary. Maybe he finds going to sleep a bit difficult at the moment and this is his way of communicating. Maybe he is teething and just needs more comfort.

Please take solace in both of my children, who were cuddled to sleep (and usually slept in our bed) until well older than 14 months. Now a little lay and cuddle with the two year old and most nights he will happily fall asleep on his own after I leave the room. Habits and routines come and go with little ones, cuddling him to sleep may be what works for him right now and in a few weeks or months he will feel more secure with you leaving before he drifts off.

#15 DrFeral

Posted 10 November 2012 - 12:04 PM

I went through something similar with DD at the same age... Hers was a real terror/pain scream and she would fall back asleep in my arms but as soon as she touched the cot it was back to screaming again. After doing some looking at her diet we found the problem was dairy food (and I had been giving her custard after dinner... she was breastfed sand it all didn't really start until she ate a packet cake for her first birthday that made her sick (whey powder)).  No dairy ... no screaming at night.  It might be worth checking if you have introduced any foods which might be a problem... especially if it continues past a few weeks (as the sleep deprivation will drive you crazy!)

#16 Natttmumm

Posted 10 November 2012 - 12:15 PM

He sounds scared. Maybe let him play in there at awake time. Jump in there too to show him all is safe.

#17 kissy10

Posted 10 November 2012 - 12:28 PM

Sounds like night terrors to me, http://www.babycenter.com/0_night-terrors_142.bc

1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users


Newborn baby found in a nativity scene

Police are trying to trace a woman who abandoned a baby boy in the manger of a church nativity scene.

Life would be harder without my kids

The Humans of New York Facebook page is well known for sharing touching, real stories from one of the world's biggest cities – and it's just hit the heart of parents everywhere.

Mum dresses as Wonder Woman for last day of chemo

A Brisbane mum dressed up as a superhero to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy and created a moment her family will remember forever.

How a raisin can predict a toddler's IQ

All you need to assess a child's future intelligence is a plastic cup and a raisin, according to new research.

Former Hi-5 member's cannabis hope

Former Hi-5 star Tim Harding hopes a cannabis-derived drug will help control his daughter's epilepsy, which sees the four-year-old suffering between 50 and 100 seizures a day.

The top 5 reasons your toddler throws a tantrum

Whilst to the outside world little people may appear to have it easy, it's actually not always the case – just ask any toddler who's had their toast cut up the wrong way.

Glenn McGrath thought he'd lost his wife and baby

Australian cricket ledged Glen McGrath has spoken about the moment he thought he might lose his wife, Sara and their baby daughter, Madison.


Inside my Centrelink nightmare

Mother Bec Smith has been trying for months to access Centrelink payments. A "serious error" is preventing her.

Warnings over push for hourly childcare billing

Australia's peak childcare body has called for caution around the Turnbull government's push for childcare centres to charge parents by the hour, not by the day.

Cate Blanchett thought about adopting for years

Cate Blanchett says her recent adoption of a baby girl had nothing to do with wanting a daughter after having three sons.

Kate Walsh: 'I can't have kids'

Grey's Anatomy star Kate Walsh has revealed she is unable to have children because she has experienced early menopause.

The parasite that could boost fertility

The Tsimane women of Bolivia are often revered as among the most fertile in the world - on average having 10 children in their lifetimes -- but some are even more fertile than others.

Family may sue cousin over genetics

A Melbourne couple is suing the Royal Children's Hospital for failing to diagnose a genetic disorder in their first child - an error they allege caused them to have another child with severe disabilities.

Strange things mums have done in labour

While most women in labour focus on the upcoming birth of their baby, some women do more interesting things.

Michael Clarke reveals baby's name

When Michael Clarke said he was wrapped around the finger of his little princess, he wasn't joking.

The logistics of breastfeeding twins

Our life is more or less divided into neat four hour parcels of time and it's hard to get much of anything done in the time between feeds.

How to stop people ruining Christmas

We can make a conscious effort about how we react to those curly Christmas day scenarios that can send us up the wall, or should we say chimney.

Lots of formula offers for desperate mum

The mum who was down to her last three tins of baby formula said she had received hundreds of calls and offers to send her formula.

Surviving breast cancer while pregnant

It was last thing Rebecca O'Donnell expected at 30 weeks' pregnant. One morning, while putting on her bra, she felt a pea-sized lump in her right breast.

Cot sheet brands for the nursery

With so many awesome cot sheet options these days, we thought we'd put together a list of go-to brands for you to seek out for your baby's bed.


What's hot on EB

How I survived breast cancer while pregnant

It was last thing Rebecca O'Donnell expected at 30 weeks' pregnant. One morning, while putting on her bra, she felt a pea-sized lump in her right breast.

Grieving father's letter to Bataclan terrorists: "...this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free"

A grieving father whose wife was killed in the attacks on the Bataclan Theatre last weekend has written an open letter to her killers.

5 challenges of motherhood - and how to see them differently

Despite the smiles, the sloppy kisses and the pure magic children bring to our lives, it's hard to deny that motherhood can be tough.

4 challenges of being a new dad - and how to face them

Becoming a parent is challenging – and that applies to both mums and dads.

My battle against antenatal and postnatal depression

I was five months pregnant when I realised I needed help.

Children swapped at birth will not be returned to biological parents

A boy and girl accidentally swapped on the day they were born will stay with the families who have raised them, a South African court has ruled.

A quarter of men believe they get 'man periods'

A British study has revealed one in four men believe they have a monthly cycle.

Baby deposit

How much do you need to save for a 'baby deposit'?

It's fairly straightforward to calculate a house deposit, but how much money do you need to save up for a baby?

Dad's beautiful note to his wife, a nurse

To anyone else it might just look like a picture of a mum having a nap with her toddler.

'I was a complete schmuck': Mike Baird opens up about his wife's postnatal depression

When his wife Kerryn was not well following the birth of their daughter, NSW Premier Mike Baird buried himself in his work.

Mum's desperate plea as whooping cough alert issued

A desperate mother has shared a heart-breaking video of her baby struggling to cope with a coughing fit caused by pertussis.

Coffee could help you live longer

New US research found people who report drinking three to five cups of coffee a day are less likely to die prematurely from heart disease, suicide, diabetes or Parkinson's disease.

The joy and dread of playdates

To live vicariously through your child is to rediscover anxieties you thought dead and buried.

Sick baby could die without scarce special formula, mum says

Lizzie Cann is down to her last three tins of a special formula in short supply.

Adorable toddler's strop foiled by squeaky shoes

We're probably all familiar with the pouty bottom lip and tightly crossed arms of a tot mid-strop.

More sex during World Cup created more baby boys

More sex during South Africa's World Cup meant a disproportionately high number of boys were born nine months later, a new study has found.

Win one of two ABC Shop prize packs in time for Christmas

What a boon it would be to have your toddler's Christmas gifts covered this year. We have two awesome ABC Shop prize packs to give away to two lucky winners.

Do fitness challenges really work?

Fitness challenges aren't new. There's Michelle Bridges 12WBT and a bunch of other programs if you really want to lose weight.

What are pregnant women Googling?

Pregnancy is a huge change for any woman, so it's natural we'll have questions - and turn to Google to ask them.



Can't decide?

Check out the Essential Baby Names section for some inspiration

Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.