Head Banging Toddler!! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My little guy, who is about 13 months old, has a recent habit of banging his head against things. I don't understand it! Most of the time it's pretty light banging, but occasionally he will really whack himself and cry (right now he has a little goose egg on his forehead with a bruise... ). What the heck is going on? Have any of your babes gone through a head banging phase??? The only tactic I've really tried to discourage it is ignoring, though sometimes he bangs his head on mine or my chest and I have to tell him that hurts and I don't like it. For a while I was using it as an opportunity to try and teach him the sign for 'pain', saying 'ouch' while I signed it, and I think that may have encouraged him?? But why would he keep doing it if it hurts?
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#2 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 02:17 PM
 
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yikes , how frustrating. I know that kids that self-injure also like to self-stimulate ( twirling hair, rubbing on something smooth, etc) both can be attempts to self-soothe.

Unfortunately the 2 kids that I know that did this often and for longer than usual have both been diagnosed with a disorder ( 1 mental retardation and the other autistic/PDD)

Many kids do it though just for the attention or expression,and just for a few weeks, so please don't get too worried. I would mention it though at the next Peds visit, or keep an eye out for other behaviors that bother you.

My now 25 month old would hit herself in the head, just to see my reaction, around 15 months, and it was very short lived. I would not react at all, I would walk away, or just re-direct the behavior.
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#3 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 03:04 PM
 
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My dd has banged her head or pulled her own hair, intenetionally, on occasion, since about 15-16 months I'd say. This could be precipitated by being tired, bored, hungry, wanting attention, or any combination thereof.

I treat it like I would treat her hitting anyone else. I tell her to be gentle with herself, that we don't hit anyone including ourselves, that it hurts. Then of course I redirect her attention to a positive activity or take care of any needs she might have (hunger, overtired, etc.). I try not to give it too much attention, but I am not going to ignore her while she hurts herself either.

I think, like anything else, it is a sensation and they want to know what it feels like.
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#4 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 07:56 PM
 
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My dd was a head banger when she was a little bit younger. I mentioned it to the pediatrician, and he laughed and told me two things- that it was just another "sensory" way for her to explore her world (what hurts and what doesn't when she bangs her head on it,) and that it was a way for them to get more blood flowing to the head. Who knows if that's the truth or not, but she has grown out of it for the most part. Although, "bonk" was one of hte first words she understood,a nd when we say it now, she'll find something to tap her head on!

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#5 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 10:04 PM
 
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My son also is a head banger and from what I have read it is normal. Boys tend to do it more than girls. My son laughs when he is dong it and doesn't do it too too hard ( it does leave a red mark). I also read it is a way for babe to relieve tension.
I don't do anything about it, I trust that if it he was really hurting himself or he shouldn't do it , he wouldn't.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#6 of 10 Old 12-21-2002, 02:25 AM
 
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My son was a constant head banger, I thought it might have been from his long stay in the birth canal banging against my cervix to get out. But we did take him to an osteopath to get his cranial situation looked at and it was all perfect and the head banging was just something we waited a very long time for him to grow out of. He is 27m now and he will still occasionally bang his head on the couch cushions. He learned that the floor really hurts and so do the walls and doors.
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#7 of 10 Old 12-21-2002, 07:45 PM
 
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my ds (29mo) still bangs his head if he's tired of being in the car seat. but it all started at 9mo and we had wood floors and it really ammused him! especially when I would try to put my hand between his head and the wall/floor/whatever. Most times he'd bang harder then to make me go Ouch and pull away . . . very much a common boy thing - but then again both my husband and I were head bangers as infants and toddlers too! hahaha maybe it's genetics!
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#8 of 10 Old 12-21-2002, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies, all - it's comforting to know my little guy isn't the only headbanger!!
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#9 of 10 Old 12-22-2002, 02:28 AM
 
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Interesting to find this thread. Dd occasionally bangs her head on purpose. Funny thing is, she shows no sign of pain, but if she accidentally just taps her head on something, she may get very upset.

Tonight she banged her head against mine, really hard. Dh gave a stern "Don't do that, you'll hurt yourself" the first time he's really been that firm. He wasn't sure the way I wanted to handle it (ignore and redirect) is right.

It's helpful to read that this may be something you see more of when they are tired; it was a late night for Dd and she seemed perfectly playful, except she's usually on her way to sleep well before this happened.

I was a head-thumper (against my bed pillow), my brother was a banger, so maybe it is hereditary.
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#10 of 10 Old 12-30-2002, 04:52 PM
 
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My ds went through the same thing at right about the same age. our ped. said that it was a sign of frustration, because he was old enough to be aware of what he wanted/needed to say- but was still too little to verbalize. He also said that it was a sensory thing (as others have posted).

Its a normal developmental phase, and unless it continues on into the 2-3 year old years (or he's showing different signs of developmental delay) you shouldn't worry.

I wonder if anyone has done a study on the correlation between baby signing, and a decrease in head banging...hmmmm....
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