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Old 05-17-2011, 06:23 PM   #1
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Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

DS turned 3 in March and I feel like this might be normal for his age...but it's also playing on my fears.

What are your thoughts?

The last 3 nights, DS has woken up in the middle of the night repeatedly, crying, not really asking for anything half the time and then asking for food/drinks/stories/you name it, the other half. Last night I asked him if he was hurt or something had scared him. He was crying so hard and clinging to me. He said, "I don't want the man to grumble me" or something very similar. DH had mentioned the night before he thought maybe DS had a bad dream because he awoke (and I somehow slept through it)

DS does go to his biodad's home Wednesday overnights and alternating weekends. The biodad is not a good person and I don't trust him in the least. I've been told over and over that unless biodad is convicted of child endangerment, he has a right to spend time with DS. I'd hope that he would never do anything to my sweet DS but I fear it.

Are regular old nightmares normal for a child this age? Should I read into it? We had been having problems with DS sleeping for months and finally started limiting his nap which seemed to help for 3 or 4 days but then suddenly now he's waking up at night.

Today throughout the day, DS talked about "the man". He said he doesn't want the man to smash him. He said he doesn't want the man to wobble his door. Should I be freaking out (because I kinda am) or am I reading too much into this?

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Old 05-17-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

... I think you need professional help with this one. On the one hand, depending on the child, that kind of "waking nightmare" is not altogether uncommon. Heck, some of my strongest memories from early childhood were similar to what your DS is experiencing, and I grew up in a warm loving home - no one strange or dangerous was part of my life!

But what you say about your DS' biodad does give me pause. I think because of your emotional closeness to the situation you'll really need to take your DS to a child psychologist if this continues repeatedly for a couple of weeks. S/he should be able to pinpoint the cause.

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Old 05-17-2011, 07:15 PM   #3
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

This was right about the same time that my DSS started having bad dreams, and I think that developmentally their imaginations are working at an alarming rate, and they still don't fully grasp the difference between reality and fantasy. At the same time I was worried about it, because he was in a very scary situation at his mother's house (her uncle, who is on the child sexual abuse registry was staying with them... and her justification was that it was okay, because he only likes little girls, so DSS would be safe! We called CPS, but they said that we had to prove that he was staying there, such as providing them with mail with his name on it!)
Having said that, these dreams sound incredibly scary and it does make me wonder where he even got the idea that "the man" wants to smash him... Maybe ask him questions about it, being careful not to lead him into any particular answer (ie, don't ask "Is the man your dad?".. that's counter-productive, and a little bit brainwashy.. hehe) and see if you can try and find the cause of these bad dreams.
Good luck! I know how heartbreaking it can be in your situation.
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Old 05-17-2011, 07:59 PM   #4
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

Thanks for reading and responding, ladies! We're doing our best to reassure him that he is very safe here and Mommy and Daddy will always protect him (he's always called DH Daddy because DH was the only person he knew in that roll, as he didn't meet biodad until after his first birthday.

I will definitely talk to DH about taking him to see someone. I don't even know where I would begin. I feel like I remember one of my parenting e-newsletters talking about that whole concept of imagination, the difference between fantasy and reality, and the effect it can have on LOs dreams recently - but with our personal situation it's hard to just brush it off. As you said, Havah I'm super close to the situation so I am not an unbiased party and it's hard to know what to think.

Thanks again.
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:24 PM   #5
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

My youngest has been having nightmares lately too. One night he woke up screaming that there is a butterfly on his pillow. And last night he was just screaming "no". It woke me up at the other end of the house. He came running in there and I let him sleep on the floor by my bed. Poor little guys. In your situation I'd have it checked out, but it's probably just normal 3yo stuff.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:13 AM   #6
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

The first thing that comes to mind for me is that he watched a movie or a show that was "scary" to him. I don't know what kind of media you allow, but maybe he saw something at bio-dad's house? It amazes me how impressionable they are at this age, and how much their imaginations can just take over. DS is 2.5 and while I seriously limit the stuff he watches, (Wiggles, Backyardigans, and Bob the Builder is it) he still will wake up at night thinking/talking about what he saw. The Backyardigans, however benign they seem to be, tend to cause a lot of night-waking with him, and he'll say weird stuff in his sleep if he has watched them (I've cut them out for that reason). Anyway, a 3yo especially has such a vivid imagination that something that doesn't seem at all scary to us can go wild in their mind.

I think it's important to explore this a little further, especially because you don't trust the bio-dad, but definitely check into the tv/movie thing because I wouldn't be surprised if that's the culprit.
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:42 AM   #7
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

That's the prime age for night terrors to start, so without the family issues, it's pretty normal. My oldest also talked about the "man" that was coming at night to get her when she was about 2. She said he was all dark and stood at her door staring at her. Sounds creepy, but pretty normal from this age group, at least in my subsequent experience with my other kids. Dh tells me that technically night terrors mean they don't fully wake up, but my kids always woke up, to which he's tell me in a snotty voice that it was just a nightmare. Whatever.

But if you have concerns about the bio dad, then I think that is something that should be pursued.
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:58 AM   #8
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It does sound like a nightmare vs night terror. YDS is diabetic & he was getting the terrors when his blood sugar dropped super fast & was super low. He didn't waked up evem though his eyes were open, he just screamed, shook & thrashed that type of thing.

As for OP's son's nightmares, it probably it something he saw at his dad's house. YDS saw the DVD cover for Stephen King's It & always talks about the scary clown. He isn't scared of him he just sees it as another clown like happy clown, sad clown type of thing ~ Thank you Yo Gabba Gabba, lol.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:06 AM   #9
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

take him to a child psychologist and see what they say.
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:16 AM   #10
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Re: Bad dreams? Or indicative of something worse?

We went through this about 4 months ago. She would wake up and be so upset and crying so hard she would dry heave, a lot. She'd be hysterical and completely unconsolable. From what I understand, it's normal, but given your circumstance, I might try to talk with someone to rule out anything more serious.
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