Why does my son hit himself in the head? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 10-13-2008, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I hope this is the right area to post this Q... but it usually happens when he is being "disciplined"
He is 16 months old.
For example. If he is redirected, or if we take something from him, or if we don't "do what he says",or ANYthing that he might interpret as being unfavorable to him... his response it to cry/get upset and start hitting himself in the head with his open palm.
We don't spank, we don't hit him or each other. I don't leave him with anyone else, so I would know if he'd been hit by someone else before...
We co-sleep and I still BF, but recently started to night wean... he hits imself in the head extra passionately during the night when I comfort/hold him instead of nursing.
It is very disturbing for me. It doesn't seem like an innocent phase, it worries me... I hope I am over analysing it, but it reminds me of self destructive/self hatred type of behavior you'd see in teens/adults.
Otherwise, he is a darling, hilarious, very loving and affectionate, happy little boy.
Thanks in advance.
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#2 of 10 Old 10-13-2008, 02:46 PM
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That's around the same age (probably a bit older actually) my older DS was when he started head-banging. He would drop to the floor and bang his head into the floor hard. He did it for a long time, mostly stopped for a bit, and now at 2 he still does it once in a while. Nobody has ever hit him or anything like that.

I do think it's a normal phase for some children. My DS just doesn't know how to handle his frustration or anger and so he expressed it by banging his head. We tried everything from comforting him to redirecting him to ignoring him, but what we did rarely seemed to make a difference. At some point I just started acknowledging the feelings that led to it, like saying, "Oh are you angry/sad/frustrated? Can I help? What would you like me to do?" or something like that. I also started teaching him to stomp his feet instead of banging his head. That works sometimes. Mostly, though, what we do seems to have little impact. Like I said, he's mostly grown out of it.

hope that helps...basically, I do think it's normal, even though it is disturbing to see {{hugs}}
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#3 of 10 Old 10-13-2008, 07:27 PM
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Our son does something similar, banging his head on the floor when he's frustrated. I was worried about it, but looked at a (I think Dr. Sears) website, and apparently this is fairly common and will extinguish by the time the child is 5 or 6 years old. Like the previous poster, we try to let him know that we understand that he's frustrated because he can't chew on a book/reach the spice rack/play with pointy objects. We don't make a big deal about it, just try to redirect again or offer a hug...

Doula, WOHM, wife to a super-fun papa, mama to the Monkey ('07), and his little brother, the Sea Monkey ('09).
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#4 of 10 Old 10-14-2008, 01:13 AM
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My DS, 14 months, does this too. Sometimes it seems like a way of expressing/dealing with frustration (which he has a lot of right now) and other times it just seems like he's experimenting with the sensation. I try not to give it a big reaction, but address the underlying need if I can. Sometimes I say "ouch! Be gentle with yourself, please," in a very matter-of-fact way.

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#5 of 10 Old 10-31-2008, 01:27 PM
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My son will be two in three weeks. He hits his head all the time has for a very long time. He only says like 5 words consistantly. Used to sday more but stopped. Seems like he replaces them. So we have a speech therapist come. They sis their evaluation and said. He may have sensory integration. He spins in circles because he likes the way it feels. Very lovey boy. Always wants to be touched ans plugs his ears all the time. We are going to have an OT evaluate him next.
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#6 of 10 Old 11-01-2008, 11:19 AM
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I was a head banger as a child and it came from frustration. I would start on the tile or concrete and my mom would move me to the carpet and i would go back to the tile/concrete. Even as a teen I would bang my head really hard on the wall until it hurt when I was really upset. I think as a teen it was more to punish myself for the love withdrawl I felt. i didn't have a very good relationship with my parents and I always felt really unheard and trapped. I wanted to hurt myself I guess because the physical pain took away from the emotional pain. I am 32 now and no longer bang my head but I do still feel like hurting myself when I am really upset. I have heard it could also have something to do with SPD. My oldest son doesn't bang his head but does had some SPD in other ways with noise and clothing.

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#7 of 10 Old 11-01-2008, 05:37 PM
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My 16 mo will bang his head on the floor, the wall, his daddy's chest, or hit himself in the head with objects. But it isn't usually a reaction to discipline and it doesn't seem he's frustrated, but rather enjoying it.

So I don't know.

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#8 of 10 Old 11-03-2008, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BarefootScientist View Post
My 16 mo will bang his head on the floor, the wall, his daddy's chest, or hit himself in the head with objects. But it isn't usually a reaction to discipline and it doesn't seem he's frustrated, but rather enjoying it.

So I don't know.
My son did this around the same age (not as a reaction to discipline), and we found it was often a response to under- or over-stimulation (for us, it was most often understimulation, though).
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#9 of 10 Old 11-03-2008, 01:46 PM
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We went through this, and for a totally different reason went to a cranio-sacral therapist. It didn't fix his constipation, but the head banging stopped and all the sudden he slept, like for more than 2 hours!!! he was a non- sleeper before that.

Heather, mama to Harriet, Crispin, in with Tom and 2
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#10 of 10 Old 11-03-2008, 01:51 PM
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My DD tends to do this when she is winding down, like right before she falls asleep. I think she is trying to keep herself awake personally. As for your situation, I really don't think it is anything you are doing/ not doing, it is jsut his way of dealing with stuff. Hopefully it is a short phase, I know how annerving it can be, hearing that *slap* of skin on skin and not knowing how to make him stop.

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