Q&A: twins, anger after naps, and loving your kids the way they need it

Anonymous writes:

"My twin boys are turning three, but this is not about being three -because it's been an issue all year long.  Of all the things I've
grappled with, some have gotten better, some have gotten worse, but
this one stays the same: right after nap is the worst part of my day. 

One of my boys wakes up from his nap crying incoherently, and
nothing I do soothes him.  He wants to be held, but he doesn't actually
seem to derive comfort from me: he doesn't cuddle or even relax his
body – he thrashes around, or holds himself rigidly a little away from
me.  He doesn't want me to sing, he doesn't want me to ask him what's
wrong, he doesn't want me to offer him anything.

This can go on for half an hour or more, if all I do is keep trying
to comfort him.  Meanwhile his brother is a little groggy and cranky
too, and would love to be held for a minute in any case, but certainly
gets more anxious to be held when he sees his brother hogging my lap. 
If I try to hold them at the same time, they both get angrier.  If I
try to put one down and pick up the other, they both get angrier.  Even
though I know it will be over sooner or later, it's awful for me. 

Some of my most ridiculous moments as a parent have been in this
scenario.  Like the time we were at my in-laws, and the boys were
napping upstairs but I needed to bring them downstairs when they woke
up, and neither one would walk down the stairs OR let me carry the
other one downstairs first.  So I put one on each knee and bumped down
the stairs on my tush.  It took a long time.

Anyway.  Sometimes reading a book works; at first he's still
screaming, but as the book goes on he gets interested despite himself
and quiets down.  But often he goes right back to crying when the book
is over.  The only thing that really works to distract him is to ask
him a question where he really needs to think, either to remember
something, or to work out the answer.  He immediately stops crying and
answers in a normal voice. 

So my biggest question is <i>why don't I do that
first.</i>  I mean, granted, I can't always think of a good
enough question.  But the fact is, it's also not my first instinct.  I
want to comfort him, even though I know he won't accept it from me, and
I keep trying.

On some level, I should understand all this.  He has always been
intense, very reactive to distress, just wired in general.  Sleep has
been especially tough for him, and probably he's just disoriented or
doesn't feel good when he first wakes up.  And physically he's a bit
rigid too.  He was born with torticollis, and although it's gone now,
some overall stiffness remains.  It's not just me he won't relax
against.

He also had colic and undiagnosed reflux, and I spent most of the
first year of his life knowing I was powerless to comfort him.  I
actually started to believe I was the one making him miserable, because
he would be smiling or laughing with someone else, until he saw me and
cried to be held.  He always wanted me to hold him, but he would keep
crying in my arms.  At the same time, I felt so guilty for hardly ever
being able to hold his brother.

So I know these half-hour episodes bring back a lot of that anxiety
and sadness for me.  I'm guessing, also, that I've been interpreting
his rejection of physical comfort from me as a rejection of my love,
when it's really nothing of the kind.  If that's true, then what I'm
doing is to keep on trying to make him accept my love on my terms.  Not
what I want to do at all, and yet I can't help it.  Physical comfort is
a big part of the language of love for me. 

How common is it for a child to wake up inconsolable like this? 
How do I break free of this perception of my relationship with him that
was set in infancy?  And how do I learn to give and accept love in the
language my child needs, not the one I need?

p.s. I know this problem will probably go away when he drops his nap, but I'm
really hoping that doesn't happen anytime soon.  I don't think my son
is capable of sleeping more than 10 hours in a row, so it seems to me
he still needs the nap.  And in any case, I think the underlying
emotional issues will still be there, if not so blatantly."

Yet another problem that could be solved with a Trained Monkey Assistant. I'm just saying.

Seriously, though, it sounds to me like you've always been the one he could trust. He could cry and be sad and angry at the world or his intensity or his pain and know that it was safe to be upset in your arms. So you got the release while other people got the smiles.

And, you're right that the most immediate manifestation that's causing problems for you is the nap wake-up, but the emotional issues aren't going to go away just because he drops his nap. There's the issue of why he gets so upset in the first place, and also the mismatch you feel between what you're offering and what he seems to need.

I think it's super-common in our culture to want everything to be OK. And we're really, REALLY not comfortable with expressions of anger (or distress, but mostly anger). Especially from women and children. So you combine those things and we've been trained to try to comfort babies and fix things for them.

It sounds to me like your son is angry. And that he's got a lot of that anger stored in his body, and it triggers when he wakes up, because that's kind of a groggy, pooky time before your brain engages fully. Which is also why asking him a question to engage his brain then makes him forget about crying.

I think you don't think to ask a question first every time, because you're trained to try to comfort, because we all think a crying child needs to be comforted (emotionally, but also physically).

Maybe over the long-term, though, what would give him the most comfort is working at it from the other direction by letting him be angry and helping him express and release that anger. If he's encouraged to express his anger enough, eventually he'll get it out of his system enough that it doesn't overwhelm him physically when he wakes up.

Then, if he does have more anger temporarily and go into a post-nap crying jag, you can use the deep-question technique to stop his crying and get him some space by engaging his brain, but know that he needs more release.

I would also use this as a time to think about whether you were allowed to be angry when you needed to. If you weren't, maybe you can use your son's experience to help allow yourself to be, too. Maybe it's just my own experience with this exact issue (and my second son), but it seems like sometimes feeling such a strong disconnect and not knowing how to bridge it can expose needs in ourselves that were never met, and once those become obvious the connection takes care of itself.

Are there parents of multiples or closely-spaced siblings who could talk about dealing with the feelings that you're not meeting your kids' needs because there are two (or more) of them and only one of you? I feel this way sometimes as a mom of two, but know it's nothing like having had two from the get-go. Anonymous definitely needs some support.

0 thoughts on “Q&A: twins, anger after naps, and loving your kids the way they need it”

  1. My son also wakes up from naps crying totally unconsolably and incoherently. It takes a long time for him to snap out of it, and holding him doesn’t really comfort him. And the interesting question or distracting thing out the window will work for a moment, but as soon as it’s over, he goes back to the crying. I always just took it to be that gross groggy feeling I get when I wake up if I sleep during the day, but man was it unpleasant. The truth is, he also is my one kid who gets night terrors, and I wonder if somehow it’s related, that in between stage of awake and asleep just being rougher or longer for him? Because now that I am really thinking about it, what these guys seem to be doing after their naps are pretty similar to what I’ve experienced with night terrors.It was the main reason I didn’t really push him to keep napping when he started to drop it (a little before he turned 3). It was just so unpleasant, way worse than him being cranky later in the afternoon.
    So, there was my data point.
    Good luck!!!

  2. My son also wakes up from naps crying totally unconsolably and incoherently. It takes a long time for him to snap out of it, and holding him doesn’t really comfort him. And the interesting question or distracting thing out the window will work for a moment, but as soon as it’s over, he goes back to the crying. I always just took it to be that gross groggy feeling I get when I wake up if I sleep during the day, but man was it unpleasant. The truth is, he also is my one kid who gets night terrors, and I wonder if somehow it’s related, that in between stage of awake and asleep just being rougher or longer for him? Because now that I am really thinking about it, what these guys seem to be doing after their naps are pretty similar to what I’ve experienced with night terrors.It was the main reason I didn’t really push him to keep napping when he started to drop it (a little before he turned 3). It was just so unpleasant, way worse than him being cranky later in the afternoon.
    So, there was my data point.
    Good luck!!!

  3. My 5yo still needs naps some, but I dread the wake up because he’s so mean. A therapist told us that he’d napped too long and entered REM sleep and a shorter nap would solve it. It didn’t, but it might for you.I generally wake him briefly, enough for a positive stirring, then leave the room but stay nearby, folding clothes or tidying. I don’t touch him, but let him initiate verbal or physical contact. If he abuses me verbally or physically, I turn away or walk out, still remaining nearby. Eventually he’ll accept a snuggle most days and then, just like you, if I can engage his brain I can distract him. But for the first half hour, we all walk on eggshells around him.

  4. My 5yo still needs naps some, but I dread the wake up because he’s so mean. A therapist told us that he’d napped too long and entered REM sleep and a shorter nap would solve it. It didn’t, but it might for you.I generally wake him briefly, enough for a positive stirring, then leave the room but stay nearby, folding clothes or tidying. I don’t touch him, but let him initiate verbal or physical contact. If he abuses me verbally or physically, I turn away or walk out, still remaining nearby. Eventually he’ll accept a snuggle most days and then, just like you, if I can engage his brain I can distract him. But for the first half hour, we all walk on eggshells around him.

  5. Anger is a horrible emotion to deal with in children. It is something I struggle with everyday with my son. There are so few ways to express anger appropriately. Getting to the root of the problem is not easy either at this age because the kids verbal skills haven’t caught up to their thoughts yet.I’m sorry I can’t help, but hang in there.
    Will look forward to seeing what advice others have to offer.
    Cheers.

  6. Anger is a horrible emotion to deal with in children. It is something I struggle with everyday with my son. There are so few ways to express anger appropriately. Getting to the root of the problem is not easy either at this age because the kids verbal skills haven’t caught up to their thoughts yet.I’m sorry I can’t help, but hang in there.
    Will look forward to seeing what advice others have to offer.
    Cheers.

  7. I have had similar experience with my 2.5 y/o son, for quite a while, but not every day – mostly on weekends when his diet is different (not fixable at this point) and his morning is more hectic.He DID have reflux and was medicated until about 1 yo. I have been thinking that perhaps there is some physical discomfort (reflux related) that is there that he is sort of used to enough that he won’t tell me his throat hurts, but just slightly worse than usual that he becomes a total crabby-butt when he wakes up, until he “gets over it” and moves on.
    In any case, that’s what I was thinking of until I saw the part when you said that your son had undiagnosed reflux too. Could there be something like that going on?
    (FWIW, he has very good language but for some reason rarely tells me about pain, even things that I know must hurt)

  8. I have had similar experience with my 2.5 y/o son, for quite a while, but not every day – mostly on weekends when his diet is different (not fixable at this point) and his morning is more hectic.He DID have reflux and was medicated until about 1 yo. I have been thinking that perhaps there is some physical discomfort (reflux related) that is there that he is sort of used to enough that he won’t tell me his throat hurts, but just slightly worse than usual that he becomes a total crabby-butt when he wakes up, until he “gets over it” and moves on.
    In any case, that’s what I was thinking of until I saw the part when you said that your son had undiagnosed reflux too. Could there be something like that going on?
    (FWIW, he has very good language but for some reason rarely tells me about pain, even things that I know must hurt)

  9. I had this issue with my second son when he was a toddler. My older child and I would dread him waking from a nap because he became the neediest, moodiest person in existence and nothing would make him happy. Sometimes I’d have luck getting out of the house immediately, but that required a lot of effort to get a tantruming kid out the door (especially since my older kid had trouble with transitions).This might not sound too useful, but what worked magically for me was to drop the nap. He was just over two when we did it, so very young to give up a nap, but it made a dramatic difference and he was more consistently happy throughout the day without having to make that awful transition. Bedtime was a breeze and he dropped right off to sleep, and woke up cheerful in the morning.

  10. I had this issue with my second son when he was a toddler. My older child and I would dread him waking from a nap because he became the neediest, moodiest person in existence and nothing would make him happy. Sometimes I’d have luck getting out of the house immediately, but that required a lot of effort to get a tantruming kid out the door (especially since my older kid had trouble with transitions).This might not sound too useful, but what worked magically for me was to drop the nap. He was just over two when we did it, so very young to give up a nap, but it made a dramatic difference and he was more consistently happy throughout the day without having to make that awful transition. Bedtime was a breeze and he dropped right off to sleep, and woke up cheerful in the morning.

  11. My son, who’s almost 4, used to wake up hysterical after every nap from age 3 to 3 and a half. Hardly ever anymore, but still sometimes (yesterday, for example). If, for whatever reason, we didn’t have time to hold him on the couch for a half hour, my husband started putting on a short video for him, and though I really resisted making TV the solution, it did calm him down immediately. I never felt great about it, though, so I was relieved when he started waking up happier.I know lots of other parents who’ve said their preschoolers (all boys, now that I think about it) wake up inconsolable. My son took, and still takes, a very long nap. Three hours is usual. So maybe the idea about sleeping too long has some merit? I just asked him why he sometimes wakes up angry, and he said “Because I’m still tired.”
    I guess it makes some sense to me considering how disoriented I feel if I take an afternoon nap. I always feel terrible when I wake up, like my body/brain thought I was asleep for the night and has been yanked into wakefulness too early.

  12. My son, who’s almost 4, used to wake up hysterical after every nap from age 3 to 3 and a half. Hardly ever anymore, but still sometimes (yesterday, for example). If, for whatever reason, we didn’t have time to hold him on the couch for a half hour, my husband started putting on a short video for him, and though I really resisted making TV the solution, it did calm him down immediately. I never felt great about it, though, so I was relieved when he started waking up happier.I know lots of other parents who’ve said their preschoolers (all boys, now that I think about it) wake up inconsolable. My son took, and still takes, a very long nap. Three hours is usual. So maybe the idea about sleeping too long has some merit? I just asked him why he sometimes wakes up angry, and he said “Because I’m still tired.”
    I guess it makes some sense to me considering how disoriented I feel if I take an afternoon nap. I always feel terrible when I wake up, like my body/brain thought I was asleep for the night and has been yanked into wakefulness too early.

  13. I will get right to the easy part of the question and say YES, my daughter used to wake up from naps crying and horrifically upset all the time. I used to contemplate waking her 5 minutes before I thought the nap would be over to try to avoid it (but rarely did so). It was totally horrible and utterly baffling to me, because she woke up pretty happy in the morning.I don’t remember what I did–although she is/was a very snuggly/touch-intensive kid, so that helped. But she could never tell me what was bothering her or how to help her.
    Dropped the nap at 3y2m.

  14. I will get right to the easy part of the question and say YES, my daughter used to wake up from naps crying and horrifically upset all the time. I used to contemplate waking her 5 minutes before I thought the nap would be over to try to avoid it (but rarely did so). It was totally horrible and utterly baffling to me, because she woke up pretty happy in the morning.I don’t remember what I did–although she is/was a very snuggly/touch-intensive kid, so that helped. But she could never tell me what was bothering her or how to help her.
    Dropped the nap at 3y2m.

  15. My son always woke up from naps crying and hysterical too. This might be completely unpalatable to some people, but the thing that worked for us was to make after nap milk/tv time.I had the same experience as you where I would hold him and he would scream for 30 minutes and nothing I did comforted him. One day around 18 months, I happened to put on tv and it calmed the savage beast. I tried other things, but they all resulted in crying so when faced with choosing between 30 minutes of screaming or 30 minutes of tv, well, it wasn’t a hard choice for me.
    Now he’s two and used to his little routine. When he wakes up from nap, he’s actually in an okay mood and immediately asks for his milk and tv.
    Also, on the carrying down the stairs thing – I only have one kid so far, but I’m pregnant and high-risk, so I’ve had to stop carrying him. He fought it and tantrumed at first, but now he’ll walk down the stairs holding my hand. For us, it was more about establishing a new routine that after nap he gets a hug but then walks down, but maybe I’m just lucky with a kid who needs routine and does well once he has one.

  16. My son always woke up from naps crying and hysterical too. This might be completely unpalatable to some people, but the thing that worked for us was to make after nap milk/tv time.I had the same experience as you where I would hold him and he would scream for 30 minutes and nothing I did comforted him. One day around 18 months, I happened to put on tv and it calmed the savage beast. I tried other things, but they all resulted in crying so when faced with choosing between 30 minutes of screaming or 30 minutes of tv, well, it wasn’t a hard choice for me.
    Now he’s two and used to his little routine. When he wakes up from nap, he’s actually in an okay mood and immediately asks for his milk and tv.
    Also, on the carrying down the stairs thing – I only have one kid so far, but I’m pregnant and high-risk, so I’ve had to stop carrying him. He fought it and tantrumed at first, but now he’ll walk down the stairs holding my hand. For us, it was more about establishing a new routine that after nap he gets a hug but then walks down, but maybe I’m just lucky with a kid who needs routine and does well once he has one.

  17. FWIW, opposite to what @Jill in Atlanta said, could it be possible that they need to sleep longer? When our little guy wakes up too early from his nap he’s cranky and sometimes puts up quite a fuss. The transition (next 1/2 hr or so) is not so much fun. I’ve started putting him back down (if I jump in immediately when he first wakes, I can rock him back to sleep before a meltdown starts). I find after he wakes up from the 2nd part of the nap, he’s usually happy.Anyhow, just some food for thought. And lots of sympathy. I totally agree that they probably feel very safe with you so they feel they can let it all out (whereas with others they may feel they have to put on the happy face). Tough for you, for sure. But so helpful to their development, I think (to have someone who lets them be them, sad and angry feelings and all). If they’re still reaching for you even though they’re really upset, it goes to show you’re doing something right. And even if they’re not always reaching for you, I still think you’re doing something right :).

  18. FWIW, opposite to what @Jill in Atlanta said, could it be possible that they need to sleep longer? When our little guy wakes up too early from his nap he’s cranky and sometimes puts up quite a fuss. The transition (next 1/2 hr or so) is not so much fun. I’ve started putting him back down (if I jump in immediately when he first wakes, I can rock him back to sleep before a meltdown starts). I find after he wakes up from the 2nd part of the nap, he’s usually happy.Anyhow, just some food for thought. And lots of sympathy. I totally agree that they probably feel very safe with you so they feel they can let it all out (whereas with others they may feel they have to put on the happy face). Tough for you, for sure. But so helpful to their development, I think (to have someone who lets them be them, sad and angry feelings and all). If they’re still reaching for you even though they’re really upset, it goes to show you’re doing something right. And even if they’re not always reaching for you, I still think you’re doing something right :).

  19. I have twin boys, 2 yo, and have experienced a lot of what the poster describes.It’s better now, but for a long time, one boy would always wake up screaming from nap, then it was a nightmare when the other woke up. Luckily the grumpy one DID like to be held in this context, but in other situations I’ve experienced the rigid-don’t hold me thing and it is really frustrating. I’m not sure what happened to stop the screaming on wake-up. Now he wakes up and immediately wants to read a book. And go potty. Is it possible he needs to pee?
    I don’t have any real suggestions, just my deepest empathy. I completely understand your ridiculous parenting moments!
    Good luck.

  20. I have twin boys, 2 yo, and have experienced a lot of what the poster describes.It’s better now, but for a long time, one boy would always wake up screaming from nap, then it was a nightmare when the other woke up. Luckily the grumpy one DID like to be held in this context, but in other situations I’ve experienced the rigid-don’t hold me thing and it is really frustrating. I’m not sure what happened to stop the screaming on wake-up. Now he wakes up and immediately wants to read a book. And go potty. Is it possible he needs to pee?
    I don’t have any real suggestions, just my deepest empathy. I completely understand your ridiculous parenting moments!
    Good luck.

  21. We have that nap thing too. One day I noticed he was waking up with an erection – might that be related? especially if he needs to pee too and doesn’t quite realise it? The one thing that has sometimes helped us is a snack tray ready for wakeup, or some very desirable foodstuff. Bizarrely at nursery he never melts down when he wakes up – I have no idea why.

  22. We have that nap thing too. One day I noticed he was waking up with an erection – might that be related? especially if he needs to pee too and doesn’t quite realise it? The one thing that has sometimes helped us is a snack tray ready for wakeup, or some very desirable foodstuff. Bizarrely at nursery he never melts down when he wakes up – I have no idea why.

  23. My 2.5 y.o. is extremely cranky (inconsolable crying) if you come into her room too soon after she wakes up, either in the morning or after a nap. I shed many tears of frustration over this until I realized if I simply left her alone for 10-15 minutes after waking, she was happy. You have to fight a lot of your own conditioning to promptly respond to your baby to do this (and not running in at the first sign she’s awake has been extremely challenging for my husband), but it has really eased that sleep/wakefulness transition for us.

  24. My 2.5 y.o. is extremely cranky (inconsolable crying) if you come into her room too soon after she wakes up, either in the morning or after a nap. I shed many tears of frustration over this until I realized if I simply left her alone for 10-15 minutes after waking, she was happy. You have to fight a lot of your own conditioning to promptly respond to your baby to do this (and not running in at the first sign she’s awake has been extremely challenging for my husband), but it has really eased that sleep/wakefulness transition for us.

  25. My son (2 today!) wakes up like this about 1 in 3 times from his naps. Yesterday it was terrible. I think the major trigger for him is that he is hungry and thirsty, but by the time he wakes up, he’s so upset about being hungry he can’t focus on eating. It happens in the morning a lot too, come to think of it.The thing about naps are that they are transitional times of day. Transitions are hard for big and little people. I think routines are helpful. We watch TV twice a day, for a half hour after he wakes up and a half hour after nap. A little Elmo or Spongebob or Jack’s Big Music Show really makes a difference. We cuddle and sit and he drinks water and wakes up slowly.
    I second the remark above about just hauling the kid outside. I dragged my screaming toddler outside yesterday and we sat in the wind and he calmed down pretty quick.
    It’s so hard to have that simultaneous push/pull of “comfort me and there is nothing you can do to comfort me!”

  26. My son (2 today!) wakes up like this about 1 in 3 times from his naps. Yesterday it was terrible. I think the major trigger for him is that he is hungry and thirsty, but by the time he wakes up, he’s so upset about being hungry he can’t focus on eating. It happens in the morning a lot too, come to think of it.The thing about naps are that they are transitional times of day. Transitions are hard for big and little people. I think routines are helpful. We watch TV twice a day, for a half hour after he wakes up and a half hour after nap. A little Elmo or Spongebob or Jack’s Big Music Show really makes a difference. We cuddle and sit and he drinks water and wakes up slowly.
    I second the remark above about just hauling the kid outside. I dragged my screaming toddler outside yesterday and we sat in the wind and he calmed down pretty quick.
    It’s so hard to have that simultaneous push/pull of “comfort me and there is nothing you can do to comfort me!”

  27. Is it possible to hold the consolable twin first for a minute of snuggle so he gets what he needs and then deal with inconsolable boy second?When nap is seriously mis-timed at our house (like 4 or 5 pm instead of 1 or 2), the wake up is as you describe and TV does pacify (though often when the show is over, the inconsolable starts up again). I usually just leave him alone (in the middle of the house with us all around) to work through it on his own.

  28. My son is a lot like me. I’m not a “good sleeper” and I need a little time to wake up. By going off of what I need to help me wake up, I’ve been able to help make my son’s wake-ups a little smoother. He’s almost 3 now and has always had rocky wake-ups not terribly different from Anon’s son. I’ve found the best way to handle it is to pitch him a cup of milk and a book and leave the room. We don’t try to seriously interact with him for at least a few minutes. Another strategy we’ve used is bringing him to the couch for a cuddle, a cup of milk and a cartoon. Anon could easily cuddle a child on each side on the couch or even squeeze them on her lap. I look at it as the same as how I NEED my coffee and a few minutes to shower or stare at the ceiling before I’m fit for anything involving people.While it’s always possible that he actually needs to sleep longer, trying to pull off a longer nap at this point, when they are about to drop them, sounds like an exercise in frustration.

  29. Oh, OP; I’ve dealt with this kind of inconsolable crying with kids waking up, and it’s soooo hard to reconcile the instinct to cuddle and soothe with the fact that the child is raging and wants nothing to do with it. Hugs to you.I just want to say that it’s okay to take a break if you need one. Sometimes my kids need a break from me, too, and after I’ve left them alone and quieted myself for a time, they’re often quieter and ready to deal with me again, too. Moxie’s absolutely right when she notes that we’re so condiitoned to avoid bad feelings and crying at all costs, and just as some kids need to cry to get to sleep, some need to cry to wake up, too. And there’s nothing wrong with allowing that to happen, and giving yourself some space and time away from it, and your child some space to feel his feelings.

  30. Lots of sympathy to the OP. Your question has lots of layers…I’m only going to address one of the practical/easy/surface issues. This may be of no use to you but might be an idea for someone else who has a kid who wakes up very grumpy.We’ve found a routine upon waking is very helpful. For a little while, I would hide one of my sons stuffed animals (not a favourite one – didn’t want to make things too emotional) during his nap. Upon waking, we’d play ‘hide and seek’ and go find the teddy. This might engage your son’s brain…a task for him to do upon waking.
    Currently, our routine is just a cuddle and a cup of dilute juice (mostly water).
    Because he is distracted by answering a question, would it work to have a big jar of papers with questions (maybe some little activities, too) and after nap he could pick one and then you do it together?
    I’m aware these ideas might be very unhelpful because if he is just SO upset that you can’t really do anything but hold his rigid body as comfortingly as you can, then you are already doing everything you possibly can. Hang in there. It sounds very tough but you also sound like a great mom.

  31. My daughter (2y1m) has woken up like this a few times. I hate it. My husband put her in front of the TV a couple of times (a solution I am conditioned NOT to turn to), and it worked like a charm.

  32. my son has had silent reflux and when he was younger he would wake from his second nap in extreme discomfort that seemed completely reflux related. he didn’t have that with his first nap. now, he just takes one nap a day and usually wakes up fine but there are still times when he wakes up in what i think is still some reflux related pain.maybe, as someone else suggested, this is something to explore.
    i am so sorry you are dealing with this at all but am especially sorry that while you are contending with one baby’s awakenings you have another baby who needs his mommy, too.

  33. oh. sorry. and one more thing. when my son woke up with the reflux pain and crankiness he didn’t want to be cuddled because being in the cuddle position actually hurt. i found that if i got him upright as soon as possible that helped. but he would do the mr. stiff thing and arch some, initially. which was odd because he is such a snuggle bug.

  34. My daughter used to wake up from unusually-timed naps (the kind that happen when you’ve dropped the nap, but sometimes the kid falls asleep at 4:45 because she’s wiped and 3) with the inconsolable crying and rigidity. She also was the one who got night terrors, so I appreciate the connection a previous poster made about that. TV was a help.On anger, now that daughter is 5.5, she writes hilarious angry little notes. “Dad you are a mean dad because you won’t let me put the bunk beds up.” She also draws pictures. For her, art and writing are really helpful at expressing emotions. (She also tears apart her room; that is, um, less constructive.)

  35. When my girl wakes up grumpy, we often turn to the TV. Never my idea, but it really does work for her. Heck, it works for me when I wake up groggy and grumpy. Others have suggested a cup of milk with that, which I think sounds perfect. Even though TV watching is passive, it does engage the brain and the passivity of it actually seems to help my girl adjust to being awake.Moxie mentions that it might be anger that he needs to express. I would like to suggest that it could be any really strong emotion. When I’m overwhelmed or depressed, I have trouble during that groggy time of waking up.
    Let me offer up an alternative idea: I have struggled my whole life with nightmares/bad dreams/night terrors/etc. (which seem to be related to my Seasonal Affective Disorder, and therefore I associate it with my brain chemical balance of too much melatonin). During time periods when I have nightmares every. single. night. I have always been extremely emotional upon waking. I just want to cry and thrash with frustration.
    I mention this, because when my niece was 2-3, she had nightmares every night and would go to her parents bed. They weren’t quite sure how to deal with it, so they asked me to talk to her, which I did. I just talked about it being scary but a normal thing for some people and maybe how I tried to distract myself upon waking up. It seems to me that if your son is having this sort of problem, the dreams would be more easily remembered because it’s such a short time period to be sleeping and then awake.
    Of course, that might not be it at all. Just another idea to consider.
    As for figuring out how to show your compassion and love in the way your child needs as opposed to what you’ve/we’ve been conditioned to do, I think it just really takes a lot of thought and time. It’s re-training the synapses in your/our own brain(s) to both realize that love can be shown in many ways and to actually condition yourself/ourselves to show that love in the new way. I personally read a ton of books with ideas I’m comfortable with or that seem to suit my child and then I work really hard on trying and practicing the new techniques. It’s not easy, but I try to remember it’s well worth it for the cause. I figure that eventually the new behavior will feel natural and come naturally.
    Good luck to you!

  36. I also have 3 year old twins and thought I would attack the logistics part of this issue, rather than the emotional part.Have you considered separating the kids at naptime? This allows you to wake up the non-crying kid, get them ready, then deal with the crying kid. Or vice versa. Deal with the crying kid, letting the non-crying kid stay in their room until the crying kid is calm.
    I find everything easier when I can deal with one child’s needs at a time.

  37. Someone mentioned putting together a list of distracting questions to ask at the beginning, so you’re ready. I’d also like to suggest jokes too.Also, my daughter is not a snuggler – she’s just not real touchy. And snuggling with her means sitting near her on the couch and she puts her feet on you. So, I’m wondering if you can go with less touchy touching, like just stroking his hair or touching his hand or leg or shoulder, if that might help let him know you’re there, but let him work it out a little more by himself.

  38. Mom of twin 3 year olds here also. First off, I SO, SO sympathize with the OP. Oh man… for more than TWO YEARS my kids woke up BOTH inconsolable, balling their eyes out for AT LEAST 30 min, often longer. It SO sucked. They were great nappers (2.5 – 3 hours oftentimes), but I sometimes found myself wondering if the blessed rest for me in the middle of the day was worth the complete meltdowns that followed. I tried everything: waking them up earlier, letting them sleep as long as they wanted, giving them milk when they woke up (sometimes did work), talking to them, holding them, not holding them, music, etc. Nothing worked consistently. The only thing that ever seemed to work (and not consistently) was to let them wake up on their own, whine or cry a bit, and then NOT go in for at least another 10 min. They’d end up babbling (now talking) to each other and getting past the grumpiness that way. When they saw me, both their “neediness” buttons were switched on and I had the classic twin mother guilt of not being able to console EITHER of them properly. Reading the other commenters now, I just realized that maybe it wasn’t just a twin thing, that maybe they would have been freaked out even if there was only one of them. I always assumed that most of what was keeping the sobbing going was the perception that I couldn’t be there for them (because I was trying to console the other). I could never hold one enough for him to calm down entirely because the other needed me. So I would stupidly bounce back and forth between the two of them, never doing either of them much good. (And I have done the EXACT butt bounce down the stairs when neither would let me pick one up at a time). Anyway, the point is that when they woke up and I wasn’t there, they tended to start playing with their animals, or talking to each other, and then that neediness button wasn’t pushed immediately upon waking.My husband always feels depressed after he wakes up from a nap (which is why he usually avoids them). Luckily, he doesn’t usually wake up wailing. Me? I am ECSTATIC after a nap. So, naturally, I blame it on him and his genes that have something to do with some funky physiological downer that happens during REM sleep. Not much help to the OP, but lots and lots of commiseration here.
    My boys are now almost 3.5 years old and they’re waking up MUCH better from their naps and it’s all because they are content to chit-chat for 20 min after they wake up and want nothing to do with me during that time.

  39. I’ll just pipe in on the twin-side of this… My boys are just over 4 yrs old. I STILL remember that first year when they’d both be crying and I was on my own and couldn’t help both and felt so bad just helping one and sometimes I;d just cry and let them both cry and that’s how my husband would find us when he got home from work.Fast forward, I think the feelings of being so overwhelmed and out of control from that first year have stayed with me. Any time the boys both have melt downs or I can’t help both at the same time, I KNOW I go back to that place.
    I’ve had many an afternoon (I work full time outside the house but get home before the boys wake up from their afternoon nap and am on my own for the first hour or so after they wake up before my husband gets home from work) where they’ve both needed me when they first woke up and those afternoons are so rough. I dread them. And, I totally get the twin thing – there is a physical way (i.e. hold one on each leg, etc.) to help both but since they are both needy that seems to exacerbate the situation more.
    As someone mentioned many times, I’ve helped the one I knew I could soothe the fastest first and then could concentrate on the other (and feel a little better because the other son is now happy playing).
    I also have seen both of my sons wake up so unpleasantly – one more so than the other (and it is not the one that has the night terrors during the night). As the milliner mentioned above, we had a lot of success with the rule of thumb that if the boys woke up crying that meant they were still tired. I learned to let them cry for a few minutes and they’d typically go back to sleep for 15-30 minutes and wake up so much better. If I broke the rule any given afternoon (and went in and got them up), I typically paid the price for that the rest of the evening.
    Good luck… I think this is the hardest part about twins – when they both need you at the exact same time; that push, pull.

  40. Data point: my son (17 months) wakes up quite upset from his naps often, but not always. He never wakes up upset in the morning unless he’s sick. He will often wake up in the middle of a nap and be confused and upset then, but he falls back to sleep pretty easily.I myself am crabby when I wake up, and need COFFEE, so I have a lot of sympathy for him. FWIW, now that he’s getting better at making his wishes known, he’s adamant that we go out of the house between nap and dinner. I suspect that sunlight helps dispel the fog of sleep (it does prompt a biochemical waking-up processes), but that just leaving the house and being somewhere else is the key for him.

  41. EXACTLY the question I needed this morning.For the past two months, about every other day, my 18-month-old wakes up inconsolable in the morning. Screaming and crying hysterically as if his heart will break. Nothing will comfort him; not food, milk, Daddy reading, Mommy hugging.
    It is nearly impossible for us to get ready in the morning, and his shrieks wake up the whole apartment building. I’m left in a miserable, shaking fog for the rest of the day after these hour-long fits, and have no idea what to do about them. Sometimes I even slide right over into rage; I whacked him on the diapered butt this morning, for the first time ever, and now guilt is added to my sad fog.
    I wish I could find a solution. I hate having our days shattered by 6 AM in this way.

  42. I have 4 children and 2 of them are that way post nap, though just one of the twins. But that can still be so exhausting when you need to give the “nice” twin attention. When they are this age I usually say, “you are grumpy and need some more time to wake-up, you can stay in your bed until you are ready to get up, & your snack is waiting at the table” sometimes there is more crying, sometimes not. I also always tell them I have hugs waiting when they are ready to not scream at me, b/c I have a lot of children to take care of I will not be screamed at, most days this works pretty well. Good luck to you.

  43. My two year old often wakes up from naps (at home at least) crying and cranky. Sometimes for up to an hour! I mentioned it to a friend and she said her 3 year old often did that. It seems to be normal. She said that before the nap everyday she started to talk to her son about it. “Okay, after your nap we aren’t going to cry okay? Come sit with mommy and we’ll talk but lets try to be happy when we wake up.” It actually work a lot of the time. I’ve never tried it with my son b/c it isn’t a behavior that bothers me that much (he isn’t a sleeper so I’m usually just so pumped that he slept that I don’t think beyond that) but I’ve tried the method with nursing. I’ll tell him that we only nurse for 3 minutes before bed and he can’t cry after we’re done or mommy won’t let him nurse anymore. The talking about it helps a little… he still fusses but usually doesn’t go as crazy as when we hadn’t talked about it.

  44. Oh sorry! Also meant to say that just yesterday when Buster woke up crying I opened the door and told him that he could come out and watch CARS with mommy when he felt like getting up. I then turned up the movie loud enough for him to hear. He calmed down after awhile and then laid there quietly for another 15 minutes or so… I’d say he finally came out after about 20 minutes and he was in a pretty good mood. I started this b/c I noticed that me going in there and talking to him and trying to consol him only seemed to rev him up more and get him to start screaming NO! at the top of his lungs to everything I said.

  45. I had no idea this was so common. Moxie, you’re always a help even if no one has offered a suggestion that I haven’t tried. Just reading that this isn’t just my son makes a difference.

  46. *I* wake up from naps inconsolable and sometimes in a rage. Honest.Mostly I get around this by not napping (pregnancy and newborn stage excepted). I wish I could explain why better or what it’s like but – I can’t really. I just wake up and it’s like my body clock is soooo messed up that I can’t deal with ANYTHING else until I get readjusted to its being afternoon.
    Sometimes seeing a movie in the mid afternoon has the same impact on me.
    My theory is that I just have a very strong circadian rhythm that is not nap-friendly. Cultures that have afternoon naps are my nightmare.
    I’m not a big fan of the electronic babysitter but honestly I would say… this might be time to try it. For me, reading a book or watching 15-20 minutes of YouTube or television really helps as I’m adjusting. Also going outside, and having a protein snack/drink like a glass of milk.

  47. Even though it doesn’t sound like it’s the same thing, this reminds me soooo much of some of my daughter’s naps. She gets sleep terrors, and when she does, there is nothing anyone can do to console her. In fact, it makes it much WORSE if we try to console her. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is pretty much par for the course with sleep terrors. The thing is, she has most of her sleep terrors during naps, not at night, and she almost only gets them when she’s overtired (which has been most of the time, recently, unfortunately). Sleep deprivation is thought to be a trigger for sleep terrors, which happen when you get “stuck” between two deep sleep cycles.So while it doesn’t sound like there’s a sleep terror thing going on, what I’m thinking is that maybe the OP’s unhappy napper is waking up at the “wrong” time in his sleep cycle. Could it be that his brother’s waking also wakes him up, but that their sleep cycles aren’t in sync, leaving one brother refreshed and the other totally groggy and unhappy? Maybe you could watch them like a hawk for a few days in a row and see if the “happy brother” is waking up before the “unhappy brother.” If he is, you could try whisking him away before he wakes his brother and see if it changes anything.
    Apart from the sleep terrors, my daughter wakes up from her nap in a vile mood if she didn’t get something to eat shortly before going down. And if I don’t get her something to eat within 5 minutes or less of her waking up, her mood just gets worse and worse. She’s that hungry! Do your boys have lunch or a snack right before their nap? If not, having them eat before the nap might by worth trying.
    If all this is totally wrong, then I would agree with those who say try TV. I am not a fan of small children watching TV, but when my daughter is in a really hostile mood, watching TV for 15-30 min really seems to help her calm down, and by that time, she’s “forgotten” whatever was getting to her before. In your situation, if the TV works, it could be a godsend.

  48. My 3 y.o. sometimes does the same thing re: naps: wakes up fussing, crying, keening, incoherent, and apparently somewhat angry and disoriented. Doesn’t want to cuddle, doesn’t want to talk, gets really mad/upset if I leave her alone. So far the only thing that seems to snap her out of it is milk and a snack. She’ll deny that she wants a snack, but if I tell her to sit at the table and present her with one, she eats it and her mood goes back to normal very shortly thereafter.

  49. I’m wondering if part of the reason TV works for some is exactly the same reason all those experts flip about using it in the evening; it is the opposite of soothing to sleep; it wakes up some parts of your brain. So maybe, if you didn’t want to do TV (and had explored reflux as a possibility a bit again), you could look for alertness cues: lots of light, movement, stuff like that.I too used to wake up cranky; I still struggle some with naps. For me, it helps if I wake “naturally” (on my own, without lots of noise) and better yet if I’m not overheated when I sleep.
    This may be a dumb question, but do they have to wake at the same time? Can you wake the calmer one a few minutes earlier and get him settled quietly without the hard-waking kid waking up? Normally I’d say both kids sleeping should be mama time that you never cut short, but if this is ruining your afternoon, maybe it’s worth giving up fifteen minutes of the calmer kid’s nap to at least only have one at a time to rouse.

  50. No advice on the twins from here, but tons of sympathy for the nap-wakeup-screaming. During her final year or so of naps, Mouse would often wake up miserable, especially if the nap had been too long. It’s darn tricky, because both undersleep and oversleep can make you groggy and cranky, right? (Think back to the days before kids, sometime when you accidentally bonked out much longer than you meant to and woke up feeling just…wrong.) Now, I’m generally capable of going “ok, slept wrong, that sucks, well let’s get some caffeine and get on with it” so I had a really hard time dealing with the 1/2 hour of wailing–it just seemed so dramatic and self-defeating. Mr. C, however, who is even less of a morning person than I am, was very easily able to empathize with exactly what she was feeling. Since she only napped at home on weekends when we were both there (and only until she was weaned), he would go in, hold her, and talk to her–not much talk, actually–until she felt better. If one of you or your partner are more like this child in this particular aspect, you may be able to tap into something that you could both use.Now the part the OP may not like: the cranky-after-nap plus only-10-hours-at-night sounds veeeery familiar. You may be in for a bumpy transition from 1 to 0 naps, which I imagine will only be tougher if you have the other twin who needs and enjoys a nap. Here’s my experience, which I realize is fairly unusual and contrary to most sleep advice:
    -Mouse never napped as long as anybody else as a little baby or toddler
    -around age 2, she started to sleep up to 2 hours for a nap at daycare; when this happened, she would wake up miserable, be cranky for the entire rest of the day, and have a hard time going down at night; the situation would perpetuate itself because she would then be tired the next day, and take a nap again
    -by friday night we would have a little ball of snarl who couldn’t get to sleep until maybe 10:30…but interestingly, we had also weaned at 2 and Mouse wouldn’t nap at home without nursing. We discovered that a couple of days of skipping naps would get her back to her normal self, and back on schedule
    -so we got on this weird schedule for a while, where she napped and got cranky during the week, and didn’t nap and cheered up on the weekend; eventually we got daycare to limit her naps to 1 hour, then 1/2 an hour, and eventually to just offer her alternative activities. Really during this time, it probably would have been ideal for her to nap for an hour 3 times a week or so.
    -by the age of 3, she rarely napped at all and all was well on the sleep front. A little sleep-in on Saturday morning was all the extra sleep she required.
    -then she joined a very active preschool program that offered naps at 3:30 rather than 1. Guess what? Back to snarly-kid-up-until-11 hell.
    -by this time I was convinced that naps were the work of the devil and the focus on naps in young child care in the US was some kind of personal conspiracy against my sanity. but luckily the preschool was very accommodating–they could see she was a wreck after a nap, and they agreed to limit her to a little catnap that didn’t make her nearly so cranky, though it still kept her up late. (my theory is that some kids have an inability to fall asleep unless they’ve been up for x hours…and X obviously keeps getting longer; and the clock can be reset by even a small amount of sleep.) Anyway, we monitored things and when it got so a 10-minute nap kept her up until 11, we asked school to pull the plug entirely. Since that day, we’ve had pleasant afternoons, if not always early bedtimes.
    Here’s the other thing: as this kind of kid, Mouse really isn’t super sensitive to undersleep. Her need is low in general (10 hours is plenty at 5 years) and if she misses an hour or even 2 she’s really fine the next day. It has an upside–she handles jetlag surprisingly well and can stay up for events if need be–but the downside is she’s not exhausted at bedtime unless the legs have absolutely been run off of her, which these days takes a lot. So she still goes to sleep fairly late, but since she’s happy and healthy, we just go with it.
    So that’s probably a novel, but just in case you have one twin who’s more sensitive to oversleep, I thought it might help.

  51. Ah Charisse, that was hilariously written. I particularly enjoyed “little ball of snarl.”I am not the OP but really appreciate everyone’s comments. I’m really thinking that the erection/needing to pee thing makes sense for boys, especially because it seems to be for a lot of our kids around the 2-4 month range when we are starting to think about/implement/problem-solve potty training. Not that it’s totally related to that, but that seems likely to me. I asked my husband about waking with an erection and he said that sometimes it hurts and throbs and can be pretty unpleasant. Scary for a little guy!
    Moxie and all you folks just rock. Thanks for the great comments.
    And I have to give MAD PROPS and wonderment to those of you with twins. Well-done. I don’t know how you do it!

  52. I don’t have twins so I can’t help in that regard but I just wanted to say my husband is a very grumpy person when he wakes up. I call him “the troll” because he’s a totally different person. My daughter is just like this some mornings, it’s very random. Some days it’s a struggle to get her out of her room. She lets and wants me to take her out of the crib but cries at some point after and will scream and cry and nothing I do helps.Sometimes my husband comes in and takes her and somehow she will calm down for him. I have learned never to go to the bathroom right after waking her up, she gets super angry if i do this. Anyway, we sort through it and luckily its not every time. I think i would go bonkers, it’s hard to think straight and be calm when you yourself are dreading something and frustrated.

  53. So, some thoughts from another mom who has slid on her butt down the stairs with a twin on each knee. More than once.1) The waking up unconsolable thing reminds me of how my eldest transitioned out of anesthesia. Any contact or attempt to engage him made him stiffen and thrash and cry. What he needed was to stare at the tv mindlessly and NOT BE TOUCHED and get a little blood-sugar boost (juice, for him, at that age – he’s the one without the Fructose malabsorption). It took force of will to NOT TOUCH, just sit and be with and say nothing and do nothing and let the tv do its work while his brain transitioned slowly back to reality. Think waking up dopey and disoriented every blessed time you wake up, I think. Some people do not nap well – they always wake up disoriented (unless they nap very short, I think people who are prone to that do best with 20 minute power naps).
    2) I would not go back to under 3 1/4 years old with twins if you paid me. IT GETS EASIER. Okay, technically, it gets different, but it is less intensely ‘I NEED TO BE AN ONLY CHILD AND YOU STUCK ME WITH THIS OTHER CHILD AND HOW COME THEY’RE ALWAYS HERE!!!!!’ The anger and need they express often felt like blame, even though hey, it isn’t like I planned to ovulate twice, okay? (and even if you had IVF, it isn’t like you know how many you’ll get, either) As they get closer to 5, they spend more energy on their relationship to one-another, and less on their relationship to mom. It eases up the pressure a bit, gives some breathing room, and gives you a minuscule little chance to observe them enough to try to get a handle on how to respond best. Which is still not enough, but it is better than the constant making-it-up-as-you-go/how-come-I-never-remember-that-Miss-R-hates-me-petting-her-hair? thing.
    3) do you have or have you read the Love Languages books? Actually reading just the review at Amazon may be enough to get a sense of it. It becomes a process of translation between my love language and his. I’m NOT as physically demonstrative as my kids are, but I still have trouble not over-cuddling my kids. So if you start there, likely it is even harder. Writing down what his love language process is and posting it may help. You can also start asking him to help you remember – that’s part of teaching him to protect those boundaries for himself, as well. He’ll need to learn comfortable ways to draw that line and hold it for others. There’s a book on my book list (for me) that I’ve recommended for others, called Mother Styles, that may also help you understand how to relate more effectively with a child who is not the same style as you.
    4) I would watch for night terrors, because the same ‘groggy/weird’ coming out of anesthesia thing child (Mr G) also had night terrors. However, the one with the sleep-walking doesn’t have trouble coming out of anesthesia. I suspect there’s a tie-in on the brain function somewhere (as pondered above) but not sure how direct it might be.
    5) @bella, what is it with us being unable to fully comfort one and let the other suck it up this time? Bouncing back and forth is my default, which then leaves them both not full of whatever comfort they needed. ARGH. Twin mommy guilt mode ON. At least at 4 1/2, I can say, ‘Miss M, right now I’m dealing with Miss R. I will be with you in a moment, and I know you need some time, too. Let me really finish with Miss R, so that she can be all done and I can focus on just you.’ … and sometimes that even works! Actually, Miss M will sometimes run off and play and leave us be entirely instead of just standing there staring at me with a face full of jealousy and resentment. Miss R is more likely to stand right there, still, but after about 2 minutes she will switch to trying to comfort her sister as well, rather than being all jealous. It develops. Slowly. But it does. And I still feel bad some days about the nights I bounced one in the bouncy seat with my feet while I held the other in my arms until that one was just enough better, then switched. Yeah. People who want twins on purpose still make me shake my head.
    6) I think Charisse may be right about the oversleep thing being a possible issue – or did I say that already? (I am skimming and skipping a bit, sorry, brain not entirely on today).
    That’s all I’ve got today, other than a ton of sympathy for the twin-mom thing. It is hard. It will not always be hard like this. Teaching them to be empathetic with each other, rather than empathetic against each other (the whole two on the knees down the stairs thing, because they each know what the other is getting and can feel it all the way to their bones, pure empathy without control)… it comes with time. Keep working on it, and don’t fret that it isn’t instant – you’re setting up their brains, but their brains have to grow into the space on their own, too. Hang in there.

  54. i don’t have any personal experience – thank god, it sounds really tough – but i was wondering how kids who wake up so unhappy & cranky go to sleep? doesn’t the ‘tension increaser/decreaser’ description talk about how they wake up, too? i seem to remember that from the original post, though we mainly talk about the go-to-sleep end of it.

  55. I have nothing for the OP except a lot of sympathy. Ugh.@Charisse- I want to thank you for taking the time to post here (and in the past) about your child’s sleep needs. My daughter (now a little over 2) also needs less sleep than many other kids, although she currently still does well with her nap. It was very helpful for me to read about Mouse when I was figuring out Pumpkin’s sleep situation. I don’t know why it is so hard to make the leap from the fact that different adults need different amounts of sleep and have different preferred schedules to the idea that babies and toddlers might be the same way- but it was, and I’m glad I found your comments to give me a nudge in the right direction.

  56. My daughter (15months) doesn’t wake up this way all the time, but often enough… I have nothing to help you – she wants to be held, but won’t settle down or be comforted, simple cries for 30-60 minutes. Nothing helps. Not her favorite toys, which are usually comforting, not her milk, etc.I hear you. I am there with you (I don’t have the twins, though. I really feel for you there). I can only hope that it will get better for all of us with time.

  57. Definitely agree with @Charisse that some kids (ahem, mine) need x hours of awake time before sleep can happen. For my son (almost 2.5) it’s now getting on six. So if he wakes up from his nap around 3pm, he’ll talk to himself in his crib from bedtime at 8pm until he’s ready to sleep at 9pm. If we let him sleep until 3:30pm, well, you do the math. I think we are heading down the road to no more naps, but I’m not ready for it yet!For the OP, we have this post-nap crankiness too, sometimes. I’ve found two triggers: not having a big enough lunch, and being too hot during nap. If he wakes up sweaty and sticky, or starving, it’s hard for him to regain his equilibrium. Maybe one or both of these things is also going on with your kid?
    P.S. Yes, he is still in a crib at 2.5. Moxie, can we have post sometime about getting kids out of their cribs? Our son will respectfully suggest that we put the “gate” (side of crib) back on when we try him with it off. Sometime we’re going to need his crib for another kid!

  58. Okay, I have twins, and one of them does this. She is also the one who has night terrors, and I want to be very clear about this: For her, this is NOT night terrors.You CANNOT distract somebody out of a night terror, or ask them questions and have them think their way out of a night terror. You just can’t.
    When she wakes up from a nap screaming and thrashing and fighting me, it’s usually because she’s still tired. I always used to say “Well, Christ on a pinwheel, child. I don’t know what you’re so pissed about, *I* didn’t wake you up.”
    She would do the exact same thing with the “OMG, mama, don’t leeeave me! I hate you ! Get away from me! Don’t touch me! Pick me uppppp!” routine. SO aggravating. Meanwhile her sister and I are just looking at eachother and raising our eyebrows. “Beats me. You?” “I got nothin’, mama. She’s weird.”
    What we now tell people who are watching her is this: “When she wakes up screaming from her naps, get her out of bed ASAP, bring her downstairs, and get some food into her. I don’t care what it is, just put some food in the cry hole, and she’ll be okay.”
    And she is. For her, the trick is turning the cry hole into a pie hole, and everything’s cool.
    Do I worry about food=crutch=OMG? Meh. She’s really thin. She was born hungry, and has had a crazy fierce appetite her entire life. I don’t think giving her a banana every so often when she’s screaming is going to break her.
    “People who want twins on purpose still make me shake my head.”
    Oh, Hedra, I love you.

  59. The only thing that stops my lo from crying after naps is The Boob!! If anyone else puts her to sleep for naps, then they are screwed when she wakes…TV, milk, chatting to her will get her out of it eventually.I feel that often she cries because her nap hasn’t been long enough because on the (rare and beautiful) occasions she sleeps for a decent amount of time she CAN wake happy(ish).

  60. Oh, and…um…Stephen Colbert. She loves Stephen Colbert, so before I figured out the Food in the Cry Hole thing, I used to put The Colbert Report on for her when she was like this. Worked like a charm.

  61. @akeeyu, it’s even more fun when they look at me like I’m insane AND a bad mother for not being over-the-moon about twins. But I still decline to wish twins on them most of the time, because I’m just too damn nice for my own good. And I’m glad for you being around, because sometimes when I put that kind of thing out there, I think ‘oh, shoot, people are maybe not going to get that’ – and then you always do. Thanks. :)I did want to say that I think it is not Night Terrors in these wakeups, either, but the fact that they get both types of reaction may be related. And pie hole, seriously. Get that blood sugar up. Protein before nap might help, too, if you could get them to eat anything you wanted them to eat when you wanted them to eat it. Yeah. Which is probably why milk/yala helps. Sugar push plus protein = regaining emotional balance.

  62. @marsupial jones – Happy birthday to your little one!@Charisse – I have also always appreciated your comments about sleep. My girl definitely falls into the camp of kids who need to be awake x amount of hours before they sleep again. In fact, we have recently implemented the rule that the nanny wake her up between 3 and 3:30 no matter when she goes down for a nap. I got the idea from you! It’s helped our bedtime routine to go back to a reasonable amount of time (1 hour on average, which is good for us). The bedtime routine goes quick on the weekends, when she does not nap for either my husband or me (what is up with the not napping for us but naps fine for the nanny?).

  63. @caramama- yeah, we had napus interruptus yesterday. And bedtime went from involving me laying next to her while she plays with my hair for 30+ minutes to me laying next to her while she plays with my hair for 3 minutes.If she hadn’t been so cranky all afternoon, I’d be seriously considering getting rid of naps. As it is, I’m just wondering if we should start encouraging her to wake up from the naps a little earlier.
    I think your Pumpkin won’t nap for you and Londo but will nap for the nanny because she’s excited to be spending time with her favorite people. Take it as a compliment.
    @akeeyu, @hedra- BEFORE I had a baby, I thought twins would be nice because I’d only have to be pregnant and do the whole maternity leave juggle at work once. Then I had a baby and I realized that this was an insane thought.
    But there are a lot of things I thought before I had a baby that I know realize were unbelievably stupid. I try to remember this when a childless relative says something unbelievably stupid to me. I am not always successful.

  64. @cloud, I always give them a pass if a) they don’t have kids, or b) they have ever had IF issues. But when they have not one but two kids, never had to struggle to get or stay pregnant, and STILL think twins is a dream… uh. Okay. I try to remind myself that there’s no accounting for taste, too.

  65. Two year-old twin girls here. This doesn’t happen every day for us, but I find that when it does happen, it seems to be related to the nap being LONG, LATE IN THE DAY, and TOO CLOSE TO DINNERTIME. I think the blood-sugar point that a lot of posters have mentioned could be key, and as well as the circadian rhythm thing.If I keep naptime early, like 1 to 3:30 pm, this doesn’t seem to happen as much. Also, I let them hang out in their cribs (plus crib tents – obviously key) until they’re good and awake. Sometimes they’ll wake up crying, but end up chatting with each other and wake up more gently that way. I do think this wouldn’t be possible without the crib tents — they seem to provide a buffer that they sub-consciously appreciate. They can interact, but still have their own space, without the stress of having to defend anything.
    Good luck! I feel for you — I have recurring anxiety dreams about one of my twins, and guess it must have to do with what a strain it can be to try to raise two little people of the same age, at the same time.

  66. My almost 2 year old wakes up badly from naps, doesn’t matter the length of the nap. And I don’t think he’s angry, I think he’s both working things out in his sleep and then transitioning to being awake. Lately he wakes up drenched in sweat. I’ve started to ask him if he was dreaming, he doesn’t know what that means, but he’s repeating it back to me…giving him a word for what is my idea for what is going on. If itโ€™s real bad, I do nurse him for 5 or 10 minutes, otherwise we just walk around, talking and observing. No twins for me, so I canโ€™t help there, but I wish you well!

  67. Nothing new to add, but I agree with the low blood sugar idea. My almost two year old wakes up in a terrible mood at times and often refuses to eat anything. I try to get him to eat something (esp. protein) before the nap and that seems to help. There have been a couple of times where I have actually bribed him with a small handful of chocolate chips to get him to eat something, anything when he wakes up in a tantrum. Once he eats something he’ll usually drink some milk and then have a normal snack. I’m not proud of it, but it works.

  68. once again, I’m living in the Moxie-giest. My son rarely naps at home anymore (4/5 of the week at daycare, he’s the napping champ and sweet as pie when he wakes up.) When we do get him to nap on weekends, it’s because he fell asleep in the car or stroller. And he is an inconsolable mess when he wakes up. The worst is if he falls asleep on an airplane. Some parents pray their kid will sleep on the plane, but we don’t – because we know he’ll be a screaming hollering melting mess for 20 minutes after, and all of our fellow passengers will get to share the joy.Distractions (going outside, singing, games) might work for a few seconds, but the howling comes back (“Hold you! No! Hold you! No”) The only thing that has worked, looking back, is food. So cry hole into pie hole is my new motto!

  69. Hey, I don’t have time to read all the other comments, so sorry if I repeat. My older 2 are 3 & 4, and they wake like this pretty often. I’ve recently discovered that needing to pee pushes them over the edge. They are both train(ing) and get VERY tense about relieving themselves even if they are sleeping with a diaper on. Once they pee, they immediately stop screaming.My 3 yo is very verbal, and he has been known to scream “I just want somebody to make me go to sleep!!!” and “I AM ANGRY!!” So much fun fun fun!!
    Sometimes introducing a different sensory feeling helps mine. Like a strong drink of very cold orange juice through a straw (I always otherwise dilute, but not for this – strong taste) Sucking the straw is sensory. Deep muscle rubs in a downward motion (not up and down) hand massages, etc. For some reason, my guys in particular don’t want to hear noises – it’s like an assault so I don’t try to talk or sing until they appear ready.
    It sounded like one gets worked up by the other, so if it were me… I might try to go to the calm one FIRST so then you don’t have 2 on your hands. It might seem cruel and counter-intuitive to walk away (even momentarily) from your child while they are screaming for you… it may be easier in the long run if you have a quiet activity ready, like coloring, or a snack for the less needy child, and then you can really focus on the one who’s losing it. Get them separated.
    In my case the hardest part of learning how to deal with having 3 children so close in age (they’re all under 4) is that there are 3 of them, 1 of me, and like it or not we HAVE to take turns. I used to feel guilty… but a friend talked me out of it. And she was right. I will never be the mother of 1 child, and the faster we all accept it… the greater the peace will be. There is nothing I can do about it. When all three are screaming… I really can only respond step by step. Try not to let the crying get to you if you can help it.
    FWIW, I also don’t try and treat the children “equally” – they are 3 different people with 3 unique qualities and differing needs. Sometimes one might need me more than another one does in a given moment, and that’s ok. Over the long haul, they all get lots of love and attention, and I’ve tried to give up being hard on myself for how I am acting in one little pie slice of a moment in time. (As in “I just spent 10 minutes calming Thing #1, and now I ‘owe’ Thing #2 10 minutes to keep it equal.)
    Hope this passes soon, hang in there!

  70. I have not read all the comments, but I just wanted to say that at different stages, all 3 of my kids were like this after daytime naps.Some stayed in this stage longer than others.
    I don’t think it is anger – I think they wake disoriented.
    Hang in there.

  71. Have not read comments but have two things to add…Yes, we call it post-nappy syndrome. All three have had it. My boys worse than my daughter. My youngest (2 now) worse than his older brother.
    Have you tried walking him outside right after nap? I find when my youngest really gets himself worked up after a nap (and right now he’s in the throes of the “I want water! No, no water!!!!” stage, so there’s a lot of getting worked up) if I walk him outside he’s quickly distracted, and though there might be some whimpering when we go back inside, he’s calm enough to communicate what he needs.
    Secondly (and I’m noooooo expert, but I’m going to throw this out there), have you thought about his being on the autism spectrum? My cousin’s son exhibited some of the behavior you’ve described, and he was found to be on the lower end of it. Just a thought.

  72. Hmmm, maybe I am a terrible mom, because I just finished reading so many moms say that their kids wake up crying from their naps and it is terrible. And it sounds like the terrible part is trying to console them when they are just inconsolable. I say, ignore them. In the end, if they cry for 30 minutes, but you can get some things done and block them out, why not? It’s not like they just got hurt or they are scared. They are just crabby. Let them be crabby on their own time, and they can come to you when they have calmed down and can act reasonably. Is that totally mean? I don’t know, I guess I just think, “Reward good behavior”. Maybe I have become callous, because my son also has night terrors, and they become worse when I have tried to comfort him. It was freeing to know there is nothing I can do, and I might as well go work on dinner.

  73. @karla, the problem is when you know it’s not conscious behavior – it brings up a different underlying situation behind the question of ‘help, how much, ignore it, or walk away?’ This is a big case of ‘know thy child’. I have one child who would be shattered if I walked away, and needs me nearby because that shows him that I’m not scared of his freak-outs, which makes them less scary for him, too (he reads my leaving as ‘Mommy is too scared to stay with me, this must be REALLY bad’). But another child needs to be alone to feel like her feelings are safe – she reads my absence as ‘Mommy knows I can handle this myself, I’m okay’ and will now (at 4 1/2) extract herself from the situation to go be angry by herself (or freaked out, or whatever).On my side, it also matters if it is a ‘bad behavior’ thing (that is, is there any choice on their side involved?), or just a ‘reaction from biology’ thing. I’m always looking for the need underneath, on both sides, really – but how to respond differs. If they are acting out to get their way, that’s one thing, and if they are disoriented and panicking out of some biological misfire, that’s entirely another. And yet even in the latter case, staying with them isn’t always the right answer for every child. Reading them and knowing what works for them, and how it ties into the entire family function, that’s where we start. For one of my kids, it is very much ‘hey, I can go make dinner now’ without guilt (now that I’ve really digested the fact that she NEEDS me to go away, and that’s the most loving thing I can do for her), and for another it is very much ‘okay, now I’m stuck here (but he is fine if I think about something else, he just needs me nearby – not touching or interacting, just present). And for the other two, it is somewhere in between (Mr G needs me to be ENGAGED with him when he’s upset – delving and exploring the reaction and feelings; and Miss R wants me to Witness and Reflect, but not engage – it’s all coming out my way, she just needs to know that I Got It.)
    Anyway, I don’t think your reaction is wrong or bad or callous, it just reflect the child you have and what you have learned about how your situation works. And sometimes showing that you trust them to deal with their feelings is the most empowering thing you can do. Not letting it be a stick they can beat you with later also isn’t a bad thing. How that expresses with each family will differ based on the people involved.

  74. Sounds like my daughter when she would wake up from naps too early or in the wrong part of her sleep cycle. Is he waking up on his own or is something or somebody waking him up?I agree with the TV idea. You could sit inbetween the boys and cuddle them while they watch something. If you feel guilty about holding one and not the other, how about insisting that neither of them is allowed to sit on your lap but they can each sit beside you and cuddle you that way.
    Another idea – you have a bedtime routine, how about a wake up routine too? A cuddle then a story. Then a big stretch up as high as you can, then crouch down low and another big jump up high. Then a silly dance to shake the sleepiness away.
    If he’s anything like my daughter he’ll just reject all that, but maybe if you get the other brother involved in it, he might decide to join in as well.
    Or maybe get a special toy that he tucks in to bed at naptime, then after his nap he needs to wake the toy up. Ask him each day “how does the toy want to be woken up?” Kiss or tickle or whispering or shaking or something silly that boys like to do. “Does the toy want a drink?”. Get him to choose which colour (toy) cup. Which (imaginary) drink.
    Of course if he’s anything like my daughter the toy and cup will get thrown across the room in a tantrum.
    Good luck.

  75. Late to the party here…but yes. Went through this for a couple years. Not every day, but aboutt 2-3 times per week at the very least. At home, at preschool….it was awful. The only thing I noticed about any type of pattern was that it usually happened when he was overstimulated/overtired. So days with horrific post-nap crying resulted in an earlier bedtime (by say, 30 minutes or so) because my suspicion was that he was still tired, still wanting to sleep but not really knowing yet how to cycle back into a deeper sleep during the daytime.Also noted that it was often related to a poor eating day. So we try really hard to stuff some kind of food into him for lunch – even if it’s just some milk – right before his afternoon nap and sometimes that would eliminate the horrible crying as well. We have a hell of a time getting him to eat….but as Hedra said, protein is our golden ticket. Cheese, yogurt, edamame, even ice cream. Ice cream is actually awesome – some protein and a whole lot of fat to fill that tummy up. We try to stay relaxed about it though because as soon as he sees me hang my hat on getting food into him, he closes down shop.
    He’s finally (for the most part, not completely of course) grown out of the worst of it, I think. Wait, did I say that? I didn’t say that.

  76. @hedra: YOU ROCK. It never ceases to amaze me how comforted I am by a like-minded twin-mother who simply says, “It gets easier.” I’m EXACTLY at the 3 1/4 age with my boys and it HAS become far more delightful and universes away from what it was like the first year, but damn, it’s still a lot of emotional work (less physical now). And I remain, like you, horrified when someone at the park or store coos “Oooooh I ALWAYS wanted twins and SO wished I had them.” I never hold back from saying “Be careful what you wish for…” But of course, it is impossible to explain to people how I can be equal parts horrified by the idea of mothering twins (oh the guilt, the stress, the unrelenting neediness that could NEVER BE SATISFIED) and deeply, deeply grateful that it was, in the end, what I got dealt. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your last comment and so many other posts from you that help me see to the other side and smile with anticipation.

  77. Oh, re the twins/needs thing?Sometimes when F needs comfort, I talk to M. If I’m holding M with one hand, I roll a ball for F. If F is a giant clingon, I read M a book with my non-patting hand. If M needs first aid or urgent cleanup, I sing a song for F.
    It leads to a lot of “conversations” with the non-holding baby, but since F is the clingon and M is conversational…eh.
    It’s not a perfect balance, but sometimes it’s “Well, I’m giving this child X…what else is LEFT?”

  78. I have no advice, only sympathy. My daughter (now 4) acts like that sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night. She actually seems to be still asleep when she does it, and we’ve never found a good solution except to wait for her to either fall back (all the way) asleep or to wake up properly, at which point she’ll start acting entirely sane (for a 4-year-old). She never remembers the episodes, but they’re pretty awful for the rest of us! Good luck!

  79. Oh, more sympathy from a twin mom here, but not much practical advice (which you’ve got loads of above). One of my 23 month boys went through that a lot a couple of months ago, would just wake up wretchedly sad. Fortunately nursing and cuddling worked.I haven’t yet done the bump down the stairs, but that’s because I still carry them both downstairs at the same time when needed. Of course, I also wear wrist guards because of a nasty case of tendinitis (De Quervain’s) that mysteriously just won’t quite clear up. Oh right, not so mysteriously. I’m wrangling two babies at once, who are constantly lurching here and there, requiring split-second catches and jugglings and luggings. Maybe I should start bum-walking downstairs.
    And I hate the conflicting needs. Particularly when one is writhing and crying on the diaper-changing table and the other is crying and clinging on to my pants leg, trying to climb up the table. Then I get angry. Which is dumb and doesn’t help. Sigh. I also hate when one is crying miserably and the other just wants to keep playing. I guess I need to work on empathy for each other, but they show it in other cases, so I dunno.
    What I found has helped is to reassure them that there is enough love for everyone and that everyone’s needs will get met. Or maybe that just reassures and calms me down, which is half — or quarter — the battle. Good luck!

  80. I will nth the comment about the TV. I don’t agree with using the TV as a babysitter but as someone who has a very hard time waking up – the TV is a wonder. It allows me to slowly wake up and figure out what is going on. If you start talking to me and making me think, I get really grumpy and cranky. This is also in the morning and not just for naps. Another solution is to read a book with the kid still in bed so he wakes up gradually.

  81. Hey everyone, OP here. I hope it’s not too late to say thank you so much for all the emotional support and thoughtful advice. I knew I needed to brainstorm, but I didn’t realize how badly I also needed to hear “this is really tough.” AND “it does get better.” Especially from other twin moms.I’m sure I’m forgetting a few of your ideas, and I really have to go back and make a complete list for myself. But here’s what I know we’ve already tried:
    He eats lunch right before nap, and it’s a substantial lunch. And I offer milk when he wakes up, though possibly I should already have it in my hand when I walk in the room. I think one issue is he’s not crazy about milk anymore… maybe if I add a dash of chocolate syrup at naptime.
    Also, I usually transfer them both to the sofa and sit in between them. That’s actually been our routine for a long time, and it works well for the babysitter, at least. But it doesn’t always work for me – often they just try to climb all over me (and push the other one off) in that position too. I think the “I shouldn’t have to share you when I neeeeeeed you” emotions are too strong when I’m in the equation.
    He does snap out of a bad mood whenever we go outside, but unfortunately, we can’t get outside right away in our setup. Our apartment is several flights up. Going out means getting all the diapers changed & shoes on & last minute toys they MUST take with them but of course can’t find, I can’t see it taking less than 1/2 hour, and they’d just cry and beg to be picked up the whole time we were getting ready instead.
    I’m very intrigued by the idea of comforting the easy one first. Also, by not going in at all until they start talking to each other; that was our approach when he used to wake up crying every morning, and it finally worked. I’ll just have to decide which method to try first.
    I’m trying to keep television as a last resort, because I’m already using that for at least 1/2 hour while I… er… cook dinner. And then sometimes I… er… let them watch another 1/2 hour in the morning, because *I’m* all tired and groggy.
    Which reminds me: I have always been terrible at waking up! My family used to tiptoe around me until after breakfast, and if they did try to talk to me, I would either grunt or snap at them. So I should obviously relate. Although to my knowledge my mother never took it personally; maybe because I didn’t insist on following her around to take my misery out on her. Or maybe because we just didn’t have the same background of angst in our relationship.
    While I don’t know if I see his post-nap behavior as angry, per se – it does strike me more as extreme grogginess, disorientation, not quite being ready to come back to reality – it’s completely plausible that he has anger stored up in general. As for the suggestion that I might never have been taught how to express or deal with anger myself? Dead. On.
    So that’s worth exploring anyway, because it will obviously be an issue when handling / teaching my kids how to handle their own anger.
    Thanks, once again.

  82. It’s not a direct answer, but the question reminded me of a book series they have at our library – “When I feel….” They have the “When I feel angry” and “When I feel sad” at our library. I got them at this age, and I’ve been meaning to get it again to deal with a 3 1/2 year old bout of being aggressive when not getting one’s way. At 2 1/2, I’m not sure how much the story meant to him – but I found it helpful in learning to talk to him about his feelings (and to think about my own). It’s written by a licensed social worker I believe. The angry book talks a lot about how it is okay to feel anger, but sometimes how we express it gets into trouble, and here are alternatives. Like I said, doesn’t answer the nap issue itself, but the discussion of anger brought it to mind.Here’s a link to Amazon (of course if you want to buy it use Moxie’s link ๐Ÿ™‚ ) – http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=node%3D4&field-keywords=sometimes+i+feel+angry&x=0&y=0

  83. This exact thing has been happening off and on for a long time with my DS (just turned 2). He used to wake up talking to himself and happy, but for long stretches of time (like right now) he would wake from naps or in the morning pretty unhappy and inconsolable. One thing for sure is it’s partially tied to not getting enough sleep – if he’s napping and wakes after an hour, he’s sad and upset. If he manages to get two hours in, he tends to wake up in a better mood, or the crying is very short-lived and he bounces back quickly.Besides this, I wonder if it’s related to transitions. For the longest time he’s not enjoyed transitioning – it doesn’t matter if the thing he’s transitioning to is really awesome (except for TV, as some others have pointed out), he’ll get squirmy. So maybe it’s related to the transition from sleep to wakefulness that’s causing the problem, at least for our boy.
    I wish I had some suggestions, but besides TV, getting him outside, and making sure not to go in until he’s fully awake, we haven’t found anything that works.

  84. This is a very late post but might be helpful. My son usually wakes up so cranky in the morning and after naps, and makes me feel like a terrible mother when I can’t comfort him!Dr. Ferber’s “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” book has an answer for the moodiness. Some kids wake up from Stage IV sleep, a deep sleep that often makes you feel disoriented upon waking. Some kids wake up from a lighter Stage II sleep feeling happy & refreshed. You can’t change it, that’s just how his sleep cycles work. It was such a relief to have a SCIENTIFIC answer!
    By the way, this book was a lifesaver because it alerted me to medical issues around my one year old’s sleep problems. In his case, it was recurrent ear infections with ear fluid that lingered for weeks. He’s such a sensitive, hyper-alert kid that he physically couldn’t sleep due to the fluid. The pediatrician argued with me about this for a long time. Once my son got tubes, his sleeping improved right away.
    But alas we still suffer with the morning crankies ๐Ÿ™‚

  85. OMG I feel for you!!!!! My mom babysits and my 4 year old cousin has the EXACT SAME behavior!!! It is really annoying!!!!!

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