Night terrors are most often seen in children 4-12. This may happen because their central nervous system (which regulates sleep and waking brain activity) is still maturing. Studies show that about 80% who have night terrors have a family member who also experienced them.
If this is a night terror, there are quite a few things that could be contributing to them, from being overtired to taking a new medication. Stress is also a common factor, and well as sleeping in a new environment or being away from home.Now here’s the good ex-etiquette part of my answer. The first thing you do is consult his mother. (Ex-etiquette for Parents rule #2, “Ask for help if you need it.”) Since you just separated that may not be the first thing you want to do, but separating may be the contributing factor to your child’s problem and you and mom have to figure this one out together. (Good ex-etiquette for Parents rule #1, “Put the children first.”) Although separated parents may take it for granted that their child will go back and forth between their homes, the back and forth life may not be the best parenting plan for your child. Some kids can handle it, some kids cannot. Your child may be one of those children that does not do well under those circumstances. If that’s true, the unselfish thing to do is to decide with his other parent which would be the best primary home and look for additional time with the other parent by being more flexible with the schedule. That may mean he sleeps primarily at one home and visits the other on weekends. Rather than full over nights every couple of days, dinner visits may be more appropriate until he gets older and more accustomed to his parents no longer living together.This is when a parent might say, “Well, that doesn’t seem fair. Why does he or she get more time than me?” Stop it. Time is not the issue. Your child is struggling. You don’t make your decisions in your best interest. You make them in the best interest of your child.
In closing, there’s no treatment for night terrors, but if they continue, consult your child’s pediatrician. You can help prevent them by reducing your child’s stress. Get on the same page with mom or dad and establish and stick to a bedtime routine that’s simple and relaxing, and prevent your child from becoming overtired by staying up too late. This can only happen if you are doing your best to co-parent—and if you are, that’s good ex-etiquette.
Ex-Etiquette®, runs in countless newspapers and websites all over the world. It is written by Dr. Jann Blackstone, who specializes in child custody, divorce, and stepfamily mediation. Dr. Jann is the author of seven books on divorce, remarriage, and co-parenting, specifically, Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce and Separation, and other Ex-etiquette books. Dr. Blackstone is also the founder of Bonus Families,501 c3 non-profit organization dedicated to peaceful coexistence between divorced or separated parents and their combined families.