View Full Version : Son waking up in full blown temper tantrums

12-13-2013, 01:46 PM
Just wondering if any of you have experienced this with any of the children you care for or your own children.

Quite often when my 2.5 year old son wakes up he starts off crying and then it turns into a full blown temper tantrum. He starts screaming because the blankets are on him, if you talk to him, if you walk out of the room, if you try to touch him, if you do nothing…you get the point. He starts kicking his legs, sobbing, and wailing and then after a couple of minutes he stops and then he's fine. He's never been much of a temper tantrum kind of boy besides the usual 'I do it!!' melt down or something that's normal but my husband and I have no idea why he always wakes up crying and why 75% of the time it turns into a massive tantrum. I've even tried just leaving him because I thought that maybe he just wakes up grumpy and needs to wake up a bit but it just starts to get louder and louder and he eventually he starts waking up all of the other kids if I don't get to him fast enough.

Any of you guys experience this? Got any suggestions?
Thanks is advance

12-13-2013, 03:51 PM
Do you always wake him up or does he wake on his own? I find that my son used to be like this whenever I woke him, now I just let him come out of his room on his own. If I need him up, I'll turn his light on and open his door and he usually wake on his own. This cut down his tantrums quite a bit.
The odd day he still walks out of his room in a whining fit about his friends being here or them playing with his things, but I tell him to gho back to bed until he is ready to come out in a happy mood. It sometimes works. My son is 3.5.

12-13-2013, 04:17 PM
From what I hear this can be common about that age. Your son will most likely outgrow it soon. It's probably some discomfort that he can't vocalize in that not quite awake state. (wet, needs the bathroom, a leg is asleep...) Maybe try taking the blankets off of him or just freeing his feet before he wakes up. I've actually heard that this helps. See if he'll take a sip of juice right away- maybe his blood sugar is low. Other then that just be there for him which I'm sure you are. Hope it fixes itself soon!

12-13-2013, 04:51 PM
My son did EXACTLY the same thing...for a year and a half straight. At least 5 nights a week. Does your son only do this at naptime? Mine was ok napping generally, but woke up screaming any time between 10pm-2am, sometimes multiple times, and it could go on for hours. He was the same way....he'd yell incoherently and then start shrieking that he was thirsty, so I'd hand him his cup of water, and he'd throw it at me and continue yelling, screaming, and thrashing. He'd shriek that he'd want a hug, but if I tried, he'd punch me. He didn't actually want anything that he was yelling for, it seemed like he just wanted to yell. We tried leaving him-it went on for literally hours before we gave that up. We tried being firm with him, trying to hold him, giving in to what he wanted, refusing, etc etc. It was horrible, and his daytime behaviour was getting very aggressive.

Finally, when he was three, after a year and a half of this, he pushed over his newborn sister's stroller with her in it with ZERO provocation. She was strapped in and fine, but it was kind of a wake up call to finally ask for help. All of his behaviours were just so much MORE than what we had dealt with with our older daughter, and more than what we had seen with any other child. Our doctor referred us to a pediatric specialist, who recommended melatonin before bed. We weren't sure, and then children's mental health recommended the same thing. The smallest dose you can get, 3 mg, about 20 minutes before bed.

It totally turned it all around. He's now off the melatonin completely, and a different child. If he wakes up now (and most of the time he doesn't), he's logical and asks for something, ie, water, his stuffie, etc. Once he has whatever he needs it's a simple goodnight and he's back to sleep. It's unbelievable, the difference getting a good night's sleep made to his behaviour during the day. He's started school and is loving it, where at this time a year ago, I was worried about him possibly being on the Autism spectrum, or having another diagnosis.

Anyways, sorry for such a long explanation, but if this is happening at night, I'd suggest talking to your doctor about melatonin. It's an over-the-counter sleep aid, you don't need a prescription. I was really hesistant to give him anything, but after a year and a half, we were pretty much willing to try anything!

The only thing that sometimes lessened the length of his tantrums was taking him down to our basement playroom so he wouldn't wake up his sisters, and telling him we would come back to get him when he was quiet. The change in location, even though we put him on a couch with a blanket and his stuffie (because otherwise he'd just yell for it the entire time) seemed to get through to him a bit. It would still sometimes take a full hour before we could bring him back to bed, but if we tried to leave him in his room, or came back every 15 minutes or anything, it would just drag on forever. I know it might not be an option with the other children sleeping, but if you could remove him from his bed and put him somewhere else, it seemed to help a bit with my son.

Good luck, I feel for you!

12-14-2013, 08:40 AM
CrazyEight, that sounds exactly like my little brother at that age. Turns out he was having aggressive Night Terrors and wasn't in sync with reality. He was terrified and confused at the images he was seeing in real life with the images his brain was also producing. I'm glad you found a solution!

My own 3 yrs old wakes up like this from time to time. It's like he was disturbed during a specific spot in his sleep cycle that sent him off the deep end. We tried to cater to his wants, but eventually learned that just laying beside him shushing him soothingly worked the fastest and calmed him down the quickest. It's hard!!!

12-14-2013, 05:06 PM
What the other ladies are describing does sound like night terrors which are scary- thankfully the child doesn't seem to ever remember it happening. My son gets them and I find that the less I engage him the better. Simple sentences like "back to bed". I took your question as meaning that your son is actually awake (at the end of sleep time) when he gets upset.? Different things but still difficult.

12-14-2013, 06:17 PM
My adult daughter had night terrors for a while around the age of two. She would wake up with blood-curdling screams. It was horrible, but, fortunately, very short-lived.

12-15-2013, 01:37 PM
Thanks ladies! Yeah it's weird. It generally only happens when he wakes up from a nap after he has had a nap. But he just freaks out for no reason. I'm wondering if maybe it is a bad dream or perhaps a leg that has fallen asleep or something. I dunno. All I can really do is just stand there until he's done. I'm sure it'll phase out eventually :)

12-15-2013, 06:01 PM
My son (4 years) has something similar but it only happens when he is woken up in the middle of the night. For example if we leave familys house late and he falls asleep in the car for an hour and then we need to wake him up. He just wakes up crying. You ask him to unbutton his seat belt, crying. You ask him to get out of the car, crying. And he can not seem to control it. It is like his eyes are open and he can hear you, but can not comprehend or do what you are asking. But if I wake him during naps, he is completely fine. And he wakes himself in the middle of the night for pee or such, he is fine.

12-16-2013, 01:58 PM
if it's not night terrors, the tantrums are still very normal for little boys his age. many young ones do it and its a bit of a way to get all the emotions of the morning out, release pent up energy and even just sort through things in his own head (weird way to do it, i know)

I've known tons of little ones that wake up and tantrum.

Let him exhaust most of his energy and then gently and quietly go in and give him a big solid and tight hug for a minute or two. makes then feel safe and secure enough to calm down and move on with the day.

he'll probably struggle for a sec but help him with quiet susshing or a very quietly sung song he loves

12-16-2013, 03:34 PM
My daughter used to do this when she woke up from her nap from about age 2- when she dropped her nap at about 3.5. Nothing I would offer her or try to do would settle her down. She could not seem to get going after her nap. I let her watch tv for a little while and all of a sudden she would snap out of it and be her usual self. I think she just needed to wake up more.
The worst was when we had to get her up and head out the door right after nap. Asking for trouble :).
She never had night terrors but was not a great night sleeper until she was almost 3 and had all her teeth. We also had never sleep trained her.

02-07-2018, 03:08 PM
I know this thread is already very old but....I'm really interested in the use of melatonin. We have the issues with our 3.5 year-old daughter. I would love to have the change you experienced. It's like having a newborn again but worse.

How long did you give him the melatonin? Were you worried that without it he would just go back to all the tantrums? This is my fear. I've also heard that some children get nightmares.

Thank you so much.

03-04-2018, 01:06 PM
I am glad someone else is interested as well. My ds 2.5yo is acting exactly as described by CrazyEight and I am just giving up now. I have a doctors appointment soon and to discuss my concerns.