16 month old seems to be intentionally hurting himself - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 05-04-2010, 03:22 AM - Thread Starter
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My 16 month old has always intentionally bumped his head against things, usually when being goofy, or repeating/reenacting an injury. I know this is something that a lot of little kids do/experiment with.

I am concerned however, with his new, and very sudden self harming behavior. When I tell him no (as in "don't flush the toilet again, we have done it 3 times now") he seems to get mad/disappointed at himself, and drops to the floor and starts repeatedly banging his head against the wood floor, almost as a self inflicted punishment. It has happened several times in the last 2 days, and I am starting to get very worried. We have NEVER spanked him (or used any other form of physical discipline) so I am not sure where he is learning this. His mannerisms/attitude of self-worthlessness is what I find the most troubling.

Has anybody else experienced this? Should I be calling his pediatrician?
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#2 of 7 Old 05-04-2010, 04:11 AM
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If your gut is telling you something isn't right, follow that. However, this sounds pretty typical to me, at least amongst my 3 kids. Around this age they start to try new ways to assert their emotions, since their verbal skills are still pretty limited. My youngest is 18 months and shes been doing things similar to this for a couple months now. Throwing herself to the floor and kicking/rolling around while screaming. She's upset because I have placed a limitation on something she wants to do.
All children are different so how you react to this depends on your child's personality. You can try picking your kiddo up and getting them distracted in another activity. You could try to have a cuddle and talk if that calms them, or you could simply walk away and let them work it out alone. My daughter gets more agitated if I try and cuddle/talk to her. Shes upset and needs to let off some steam, so I make no big deal about it and shes over it in a minute. It's really important to not panic yourself though because they will pick up on that.
I don't tend to worry about serious injuries from this because generally, if something hurts they stop. Obviously I would never let my child plunk down and bang her head on some concrete though.
It's a tough stage to go through, that's for sure, but just hang in there mama. Pretty soon your babe will be able to verbalize his emotions easier.
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#3 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 05:47 PM
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I have an 18 month old who has been doing the same stuff for a couple of months - it seems like he wants to punish himself, sometimes he hits himself in the head, etc., when I tell him "no." I just give him a hug, tell him to be nice to himself, remind him that we don't hit, etc. The behavior is starting to wear off - I think it's pretty normal for this age.
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#4 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 05:53 PM
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DD did that all of the time at that age. I think it could be normal, but you know your lo best.

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#5 of 7 Old 05-07-2010, 02:26 PM
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DS has periods where he hits himself in the head as well, especially after telling him he can't/shouldn't do something. Sometimes I don't see him do it for a while and then the habit pops again only to disappear a few days later. When he first started doing it, it was more often though. He's still working out that tricky verbal stuff, but improving, so I think that's why it's gotten better.

It's good to know that others do this as well!

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#6 of 7 Old 05-07-2010, 09:20 PM
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My 16mo son does this to. He started around 10-11mo. When he gets angry he will hit his head on the floor(hard wood) or hit him self on the head. I hate when he does this and try to stop him as sson as possable espically when hitting on the floor. It does bother me. I hope when he can tell me his feelings this will improve. He will throw things as well. His older sister 11yrs. has a bad attitude quite a bit and throws things as well as raised/yelling voices. I'm trying to gain control over this as I do not want him yelling--although now he screams alot and cries when he's told no or other wise doesn't get his way.
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#7 of 7 Old 05-08-2010, 04:30 PM
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DD is 16 months and does this too - not so much hitting her head on the floor but hitting herself in the head with her hand. What I've noticed though is she watches my reaction (and is always doing it after I've told her no about something she wants). I think the 1st time she did it she probably noticed it really worried me and I really responded.

So now that she seems to be pushing a boundary with it, I try to look totally uninterested and instead of grabbing her hand in fear she'll hurt herself, I say "I'd rather you didn't hit yourself." and I put my hand between her hand and her head, then pretend to immerse myself in some other task and not really pay attention (but I do leave my hand between her head and her hand).

She almost always moves immediately on to something else.
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