(Closed) 15 month old bangs his head and hits himself. HELP!!

posted 6 years ago in Babies
Post # 3
9950 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

My initial gut reaction is he’s doing it because it’s getting your attention and a reaction from you.

Instead of giving him attention because of this behavior try distracting him.  Don’t say “no” or even acknowledge he’s doing this. 

It reminds me of a typical phenomenon almost all babies go through called, “social coughing.”  A baby will cough and then look around to see if Mommy is giving him a reaction.  Most of the time a cough gets attention!  So, the only way to break the “social coughing” thing is to ignore it.

The next time he bangs his little noggin ignore him.  He’ll most likely do it again even harder to get your attention.  Chances are he won’t do it hard enough to hurt himself but, if he does, that in itself may be incentive enough to teach himself to stop doing it. 

Don’t stress too much about this and don’t start down the road of slapping labels like “autistic” on the little guy just yet. 

Distract him with a toy or a cookie or something on TV.  And hang in there, the terrible two’s are much worse.  Hehe.  Jk but not really.  Motherhood is a challenge but a joy at the same time.  It’s all worth it.

The main thing to remember when being a Mom is DON’T PANIC.  Don’t assume the worst.  And avoid labeling your child at all costs.  Too many diagnoses these days are inaccurate and strictly to keep the co-pays rolling in and the pharmaceutical companies happy and in business.  Rest assured your child is healthy and normal and it’s just a phase.  He’ll outgrow it and do some other silly stuff even more alarming than this, lol.

You’ll be just fine!


Post # 5
7520 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

I have never met a toddler who didn’t occasionally bang their head on the floor- including mine.  I think it would depend on the frequency and severity.

Post # 7
474 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I think most toddlers do this.  They are still unable to verbalize anger, frustration or even recognize the emotions and it is a way of releasing.  Not acknowledgeing the actions will help stop it, or just picking him up and hugging him may make him feel better.  

Post # 8
215 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

He also could be doing because he is a sensory seeking child. You could look into Occupational Therapy many times they work with sensory seeking children in order to replace that behavior with more appropriate ones.

Post # 9
951 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I don’t know if SIB (self injurous behavior) is normal in toddlers without autism but for children with autism, it is how they express anxiety/stress. Usually the signs of autism manifest around the year and a half point. I don’t mean to upset you but I would see a doctor as soon as possible, for his health and for your own peace of mind. If that is what is manifesting, it’s better that you start treatment as early as possible. My friend’s son was diagnosed autistic before the age of 2 and with the proper therapy/diet he is now 6 years old and very highly functioning if not advanced for his age. 

*big hugs!*

Post # 10
9950 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

@mrskisstobe:   When your toddler gets upset it is important for you to remain calm.  Telling him “no” (which I entirely understand, btw) might be confusing to him.  He might sense your panic.

Think of the head banging as being like a tantrum.  What do we do for tantrums?  We stay calm.  We comfort our child.  We give it as little attention as possible while allowing them their emotional “meltdown,” because this is a very healthy and normal stage of development.

Toddlers don’t understand their emotions yet.  They also don’t understand being overly tired or upset.  Part of a Mom’s job is to make sure your child gets plenty of rest, of course, but beyond that don’t instill any kind of nervousness or fear into him in addition to his own.  Keep in mind that little ones are incredibly instinctual.  He can sense when you’re agitated because of his head banging and it makes him more agitated in return.

You have to be the anchor and strength for him.  I know it’s difficult not to worry, of course, I’m a Mom and I went through the same thing.  But you don’t want to let him know you are upset.  Ever, if possible.  If you are overly concerned or afraid he’ll pick up on it and this will do nothing but exacerbate the head-banging behavior.

Stay calm the next time he does this.  Speak to him in a low, loving, calm voice and tell him, “It’s ok, baby, there, there.”  Pick him up and hold him if he’s overly tired and acting out his exhaustion, rock him, whatever you normally do to calm him.  My son was particularly fond of nice warm baths when he was agitated.  When it was difficult to calm him (especially during the teething stage, those suckers hurt coming in) I would give him a nice, warm, soothing bath, play some relaxing and quiet music and he would calm down.

Babies need their mothers to provide the restrictions and comfort they cannot provide for themselves.  You can reassure him, “Darling, I love you, I won’t let you hurt yourself.  But everything is ok and I am taking care of you, I promise.”  Children need their parents to be strong and calm for them.  Teach him that his own emotions are nothing to be afraid of and that you have everything under control for him now, until he grows into being able to handle things more for himself.

Post # 11
3229 posts
Sugar bee

My niece used to hit herself out of frustration and pull her own hair out. She got over that though. It was right around that age too.

Post # 13
4495 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@sablemuse:  +1.

OP I am not at all saying that your child is autistic – he is probably a healthy little boy. If it doesnt stop though then I would consult your physician. My nephew went around banging his head on things when he was 1.5yrs to about 3. I mean BANGING it to the point that you’d have to grab him so he wouldn’t harm himself. He did it when he was happy, sad, and indifferent. On the walls, tables, chairs, TV – basically anything. Doctors told my stepsis that he couldn’t be diagnosed until he was a bit older, but it turned out that he is in fact autistic. That being said, he has a VERY mild form of austism and lives a very normal life. He goes to a ‘normal’ school with ‘normal’ kids and is in his regular grade level. Like I said, I’m sure your baby is just fine but I wanted to share my experience with this behavior.

 Moms worry, thats their purpose in life 🙂

Post # 14
1778 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I don’t think anyone can quite tell at that age whether or not a child is autistic, but I think it is good that you are aware of possibilities (without labeling him).  My stepson is autistic (between moderate and severe), so I can relate to this issue.  He is now 7 and no longer bangs his head on things except maybe once in a blue moon, but he used to frequently. 

If you can, try to pay attention to what happens directly before he does it (and keep notes if you can!).  If it’s some type of trigger that does it, then remove that trigger from his life if possible. As an example, if the clock plays “It’s a Small World” every day at 12pm and he always bangs his head at 12:02, the song might be stressing him out. 

He is likely using it as a coping mechanicism to deal with his stress or to get attention. If he is in a dangerous situation (hitting his head on the wall or floor) then you should intervene, but do it in an easy way without acting stressed.  Try to just pick him up and move him to a safer spot (on a rug or something).  If he’s just doing it with his hands or other body parts, attempt to ignore it for a few days and see if the frequency drops. 

You might also try to teach him other calming methods such as stroking his hand up and down his arms or running his fingers under water.  Some children also just like pressure on their heads, you can buy something like a sweat band that is tight (but not too tight) and let him wear it to see if that helps.  Best of luck!

Post # 16
9950 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

@mrskisstobe:   Just thought of something since you mentioned a stroke.  Headaches could cause this kind of behavior – strangely enough he might be trying to bring your attention to his head hurting – do strokes cause headaches to your knowledge?

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