Our expert says:
These might also be night terrors, except if he can describe what frightens him, and it apparently arises from a misinterpretation of shadows on the door, this is more like a nightmare. A child shrink could help assess this situation directly and advise best about how to rapidly get this back into control.
Among the things that can help are these --- talk it over calmly with him and check whether there are new things in his day-time / waking life that he finds frightening or challenging, and if so, deal with them. Consider a night-light to avoid the shadows he may be finding menacing, so he can see there are no monsters. Give lots of reassurance and hugs, and don't concentrate too much on your own feelings of helplessness that the little guy is getting so scared on these occasions. Acknowledge that this is frightening, but that he is safe and that nothing bad is going to happen to him at these times. Sometikes it helps for the child to be encouraged during the bright day, to draw a picture of the nightmare monster ( more whatever wasd frightening ) and then crumple it up and throw it away ceremoniously. A cuddly toy or "blankie" can be a great re--assurance.
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