My son holds his breath when he's mad!

Amber - posted on 11/29/2008 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My son is about a year and a half now, and he's a pretty good baby. But when he gets mad, he likes to scream his head off then he holds his breath until he passes out. It scares me so bad, but I know that when he passes out he'll start breathing again on his own. He does it alot though, so I'm scared that it could cause him brain damage. My mom has told me that when he does that I need to throw a glass of ice cold (without the actual ice) into his face and he'll stop. I've done it alot but he just keeps doing it. I'm getting so frustrated with him over it, so please, any advice would be appreciated.

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Melissa - posted on 09/19/2011

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my on is 14 months and is exactly the same, if he's not getting what he wants he'll hold his breath till he goes blue and passes out but a few seconds later he comes round. he's done this since he has been 9 months old. we have been 2 the doc about this and they say it can last up to being 6 :(

Robin - posted on 12/01/2008

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My middle daughter started holding her breath during a fit at a very early age, and most of the times she'd pass out. The first time I freaked out, but after the doctors realized what she was doing they said the same thing. Put her someplace safe and wait until she's wakes up. I must say the every time she woke up from her self-induced slumber she was a very happy child. Go figure.

Amber - posted on 12/01/2008

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No, I don't think I've ever heard of someone doing that. It actually sounds pretty funny. So far he hasn't held his breath lately, so I haven't had to worry about it. I honestly hope that he doesn't try it again.

Stacey - posted on 12/01/2008

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Have you tried throwing a tantrum right back at him??? I know this is attention and that you dont really want to give him that but often it catches them so totally by surprise it stops their tantrum...

Amber - posted on 11/30/2008

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Thank y'all so much! Y'all have been such a big help with this that I can't thank you enough. I will give it a try the next time he does it. Thanks so much!

Hillary - posted on 11/30/2008

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Most of the time this is an attention thing. He cannot hold his breath long enough to cause brain damage. I agree, just leave him in a safe area and ignore him. He should stop soon enough.

Tanya - posted on 11/29/2008

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He's not at risk of brain damage because it is no different than someone holding their breath while under water. It is an intentional holding of his breath. The only difference is that he holds his breath until he passes out (which is not going to be as long as someone who can swim underwater for any length of time). He will immediately start breathing again when he passes out, which he has already shown you he does. It's not going to be long enough to cause any sort of damage. Ask your pediatrician for sure for reassurance because you've already built a relationship with him/her. I agree with the other poster that throwing water on his face is a sort of attention therefore feeding into the issue at hand, not to mention it can be messy. I wouldn't do that...I'd ignore it after making sure he's in a safe place to lay down.

[deleted account]

throwing water in his face is giving attention any acknowledgeent of it is attention.i dont think it could cause brain damage easily(maybe eventualy)but if you quickly get it under control you want have to worry.dont even look at his face,look away and continue to do something else or get out of his view.good luck and google the brain damage thing or talk to you dr,for peace of mind

Amber - posted on 11/29/2008

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I will try that. Thank you. The only thing I am worried about is that it could cause brain damage from him doing it so much. I mean, he has turned blue and purple right in front of me. It scares me so bad when he does it, and I just want him to get out of that stage. I don't really give him the attention that he wants, I tend to hit him in the face with water to snap him out of it. It just doesn't seem to work.

Tanya - posted on 11/29/2008

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Ignore it (as hard as it may be). He's safe since he'll immediately start breathing as soon as he passes out or he'll stop holding his breath before that point (as long as there is no underlying medical condition, which it sounds as though there isn't). If you fret over this, then you are giving him positive reinforcement to continue this, just like when a child throws a temper tantrum in the grocery store because they want candy and you say no. If you give the candy just to quiet the child down, then they have now learned positive reinforcement that if they scream and cry they will get the candy they want even if mom says no. Lay him down in a safe spot, tell him to stop crying calmly, and walk away. It may take many times of doing this before he stops, but it should help. Best wishes.

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they can forget phases quickly if you can grab there attention with something else and ignore the other.

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ignore it.walk out of the room(or act like you did hide and keep an eye on him).stop giving him the attention hes been getting for it.show him it no longer works.



if this doesnt work ignore it by going on with things and getting him interested in something else.hes got you b/c you are afraid,dont let him control you with it.

Diane - posted on 11/29/2008

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My first husband did this as a baby, too. My ex-mother-in-law asked her doctor about it and was told, next time he did it, to lay him down so he didn't hurt himself, then go into the other room and pretend to ignore him. (Actually she went into the other room and cried!) She only had to do this a couple of times before he quit holding his breath. The dr. said it was just a way of getting attention and if he came to and realized that no one was 'fussing' over him, he would stop doing it.....it worked with him!

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