A trip to an outdoors store found my son at odds with a stuffed GOOSE. This led into fear of a goose in one of his books. When the connection was made, my son signed GOOSE before going to bed and at his nap time. He’d even sign it when he awoke. On a whim, I had my wife ask him if he would wanted the book to be brought out of his room. He got excited and so we knew the goose at the store bothered him and now he found it uneasy to sleep with an image of a goose in the book beside him.
Later we learned that a blue ELEPHANT bothered him as well. He would do the elephant sign and sound to let us know he wanted it gone. At one point he woke up in an usually enthusiastic cry which was out of the ordinary, but had occurred before. The first few time it happened he wasn’t signing yet so we had no clue, but later on we discovered that had had a bad dream.
Signing is a great way to figure out exactly what is bothering your baby. If frequent night terrors occur in your preverbal baby try teaching the sign for SCARED which is two fists out in front with bent elbows which are then clenched and vibrated as if startled. This sign should be taught in context so whenever you see that your baby is startled by something such as an animal or a stranger, be sure to do the sign. Then when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night ask them if they are scared and to repeat the sign back. If your child does, then you can be pretty sure that they’ve had a bad dream. The next step is to discover the cause and if possible remove it. If you can’t find something, think back to the day and think about any new things that your baby saw or heard that might be startling them. From there, you might consider discussing why it isn’t a danger and that it’s okay to go back to sleep.
The sign for SCARED can be a valuable word for certain babies so teach it like you would teach HURT to a baby who is more clumsy or rambunctious than others.