Head banging and hitting self in the face

Emma - posted on 09/08/2010 ( 3 moms have responded )

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Hello
I'm looking for advice and coping stratigies for my son who will be 3 in October this year. He went through a phase a while back where he'd randomly headbutt things, usually dangerous things e.g. the corners of doors, the side of his bed, walls, floors his safety gates etc. This stopped for about 3 months but has now started again, I walked into his bedroom the other morning to fing him holding the end of his bed whilst headbutting it as hard as he possibly could. Needless to say I stopped him straight away but he still ended up with a massive egg and bruise on his forehead. He's since done it several times since and I'm concerned that by repeatedly banging his head in the same spot he's going to seriously damage himself. Also along withe the headbanging starting again he's got a new habbit of smacking himself in the face with his hands, I find this equally destressing. I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do. The Doc and the health visitor say its completely normal and we're to ignore it, but how can we ignore it when he's causing himself so much damage. Our old technique of moving him away and placing him in the middle of the room so he can't hurt himself doesn't work anymore as he just gets straight back up and starts again. Any advice, help and experiences would be really appreciated. I'd like to add that his speech is coming along very well and he can tell us most of the things that he wants to. Thank you in advance.

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View replies by

Gena - posted on 09/09/2010

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Maybe he is having headaches??? If he is not yet 3, he might not be able to tell you that his head hurts.

Emma - posted on 09/09/2010

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Thank you Hannah, he hasn't been evaluted for autism but the doctor does say its completely normal. I used to work with autistic children and to be honest my son doesn't seen to follow any of the traits that you associate with autism. Also the only attention we do give him when he does this is picking him up and placing him in the middle of the floor then walking awy so he hasn't got nything to hurt himself on. Something that makes me wonder is the fact that his cousin does it (he lives in a different part of the country to us), his other 2 cousins used to do it when they were small and his Uncle did it at his age so this makes me think it may just be a thing that all the males do as a coping technique at this young age? the only other thing we've tried is having to hold him on my lap facing away from me, not cudlling but holding him out of danger when he's in a temper. Thank you for your advice

[deleted account]

head banging is "normal" for children (and actually very common in gifted children.) It is also a sign of autism. However, if your pediatrician has evaluated your child for autism and determined that the head banging really falls in the "normal" range of toddler behavior, I would go with your pediatricians advice. Ignore it. walk away. Do not acknowledge the behavior. Your son will soon realise the pain isn't worth the gain (your attention).



When he has calmed down, and come to see you calmly, you can offer him a cold pack for the lump on his forhead. and you can say something like, "Wow I bet that hurts! I sure don't like banging my head against the wall. Let me know when you are done with that cold pack and are ready to have some fun playing outside." Whatever you do, do not fuss, console, or play into his demand for extra attention (which is all the head banging is).

Betcha he stops real soon.

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