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Around the age of one, some children start banging their heads out of frustration or pain. By banging their head, it is thought to take away the pain from somewhere else, for instance, a new tooth coming in or an earache.
Head banging is an effective attention-seeking maneuver. The more reactions children get from parents or other adults, the more likely they are to continue this habit. From experience, it is hard to ignore as you are worried about your child causing brain damage.
Facts on Toddler’s Head Banging:
Head banging often appears in the last half of the first year of life and generally ends spontaneously by four years of age. Boys are three or four times more likely to be headbangers than girls.
How is it treated?
Most children will outgrow the habit on their own. You can speed up this process by pretending not to notice. And if it is part of a tantrum, do not give him/her whatever they threw a tantrum to get. When you see his/her head banging, you might be able to get her to stop for the moment by distracting her or engaging her in a different activity. By decreasing the amount of time she spends in this activity, she will outgrow it more quickly.
Memorial Day passed, and we rolled into Summer with our second family vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. We had a wonderful time even though we had some meltdowns. When Jack had meltdowns, we learned it was better not to pay him any attention or give him a reaction. As we only want to reward and encourage positive behavior, not the negative. We would ask him to go sit down. Once he collected his thoughts, we would talk about it, and he could try talking about his feelings rather than throwing, kicking, and screaming. The head banging eventually stopped as he was able to communicate with us!
Which one do you think would be better to talk about their feelings?
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After some research, we found that it was pretty standard for toddlers to bang their heads on the floor. It was a way for them to show that they needed attention, release frustration, and more. (This site is what helped us understand more: Head Banging).
Luke Started Banging His Head
Luke then started doing the head banging around his second birthday. We had just got them a swing set, and I told them we would have to get rid of it if it continued. You may think this is wrong, but I was serious! If they are going to bang their heads on the floor inside, then why would I have a toy outside for them to bang and beat up?
Luke’s head banding and tantrums were short-lived. They stopped, and it appeared that he was only doing it because Jack was doing it. When he wasn’t getting a reaction from us, the head banging stopped completely. We were able to continue doing fun things, and I no longer had people staring at me at the store due to my kids having bruises on their heads.
As Time went on:
We rolled through the Summer of 2018 with days by the pool, going to air shows, and Jack being a ring barrier in Kerry and Andrew’s Wedding. They didn’t master swimming, but they did start getting more comfortable with being splashed and getting water on our faces. However, I would recommend having another person with you when you take a one and 2-year-old to the pool, but I have now done this alone. My anxiety was super high, though, and we only stayed an hour. Afterward, I felt like I achieved a huge milestone, and there were no tantrums or head banging.
Do you have tips and tricks regarding toddlers banging their heads on the ground? Please share them below.
I have also seen kids do this, it is such an interesting habit. I would definitely say encouraging them to calm down by taking deep breaths or counting could be really helpful. Also, make sure to move them to safety if they are banging their head in a dangerous space.
Breanna / Messy Buns and Mom Jeans
This is really good to know for when sophie hits toddler stages!
Jessica Lieb (@bkeepsushonest)
This is such great insight. It can be difficult to pinpoint what is bothering a child especially when they can’t communication well.
The coping mechanisms that kids use are really interesting if you take a minute to think about WHY they are doing it rather than just criticizing them for going through a tough time.
I agree! I learn that waiting for them to calm down and talk to them is the best. The criticizing doesn’t help. It just brings down there self-esteem.
My son does the same thing. He bangs his head when he’s upset, but we don’t give a reaction. He gets bored fairly quickly. He also has a habit of gagging himself with his fingers until he throws up to see if he gets a reaction. Toddlers be crazy! haha
My youngest son beats his head out of frustration a lot. Lately he’s started slapping others as well, it’s the only way he can verbalize his frustrations
Angel | Mommy-ing Differently
I had no idea it was common, but I have experienced this. And I actually (shamefully) remember doing this as a child myself. I’ve felt weird as a result until just now through learning it’s normal. With my kids, I just calmly say, “no” and sit them upright. I try not to get to hyper about it through yelling or anything. Like you, I of course don’t want to make a big deal out of it.
My son who is 2 has been doing this for probably the past 6-8 months. He will either do it out of anger or out of (what i think) is excitement. He might just randomly do it when he’s super happy. But perhaps now he could have been in pain with a tooth or ear etc. It always worries me as people always think there’s something ‘wrong’ with him when he does it. Caitylis x x
The Irish Twin's Momma
I remember that, and people would give me odd looks at the grocery store. I reached out to several moms with boys when I was going through it, and a good portion of them said their son did it too.