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Toddlers who headbang!

(12 Posts)
Ghosty Wed 04-Dec-02 09:35:36

I have a question and don't have the time to trawl through the threads so forgive me if it has come up already ... if it has can someone direct me to it?
Anyway ... I spent the morning with a friend and her 21 month old son the other day and I could see that my friend was a bit worried ... and if I were in her shoes I would be too.
The thing is that her little boy head bangs ... if he is thwarted in the slightest way he gets on the floor and whacks his head a few times ... or he will find a wall and do it. My friend is obviously quite distressed about it and is not sure what to do. It was really odd to see ... for example ... My DS was playing (he is over a year older than the other little boy) and he called me over because my friend's little boy had broken a toy and seemed to want it fixed. I went to help and as soon as the little boy saw me pick up the toy he lost it and started bashing his head. This happened loads of times in different situations throughout the morning ...
Now I am no stranger to tantrums (I think DS would win a gold medal at the Tantrum Games) but I have never seen anyone do this ... usually he is a really sweet little tot.
Has anyone got any ideas on what my friend can do about it (if anything ...) ?

Furball Wed 04-Dec-02 10:14:19

Yes I too have a 15 month old head banger and he has been doing it for 4 - 5 months, anything doesn't go his way, he'll just tap his head on the wall/floor 3-4 times each 'bang' getting harder, then burst into tears trying to find sympathy. We just ignored this behaviour as best we could and he did stop, but this last week he has started again for even more minor things. I've asked around about this behaviour as we were worried it would do him harm. Apparently they will not bang hard enough to do any damage and the best way is just ignore it so not to incourage 'on tap' sympathy.

Ghosty Wed 04-Dec-02 10:27:05

Hi Furball, thanks for the reply ... I did say that to my friend 'It probably hurts you more than him' type thing ... but I just couldn't believe how he would do it over the teensiest little thing ... my DS just stared at him with a really worried expression on his face!

Nutjob Wed 04-Dec-02 11:43:59

Hi, my ds used to do this as well, when he was about 18-24 months. He would even go out of his way to find the hardest piece of furniture in the room, before starting!! However, he never actually hurt himself, and as Furball has already said, I just ignored him, and he soon realised it was pointless, and uncomfortable in to the bargin!! HTH

Hilary Wed 04-Dec-02 12:13:05

Ds2 does this and has for about 9 months. He is now nearly 2. He also finds the hardest thing in the room and then cries more than he was doing before because he has hurt himself! I ignore the behaviour completely and he always cheers up on his own.

I don't worry about it at all as I have heard that other children this sort of age do it but I think I would have if it had been ds1. You don't feel so stressed about things second time around.

Ghosty Thu 05-Dec-02 07:22:55

Thanks girls... I will pass all of this on to my friend ... basically ignore it and the phase will pass!

slug Thu 05-Dec-02 09:31:00

Or alternativly you could just put some Black Sabbath on the stero every time he does it, at least he will look the part.

willow2 Thu 05-Dec-02 20:12:23

Actually Slug, I think you will find that Motorhead's No Sleep Till Hammersmith album is derigeur for these kind of moments.

Khara Thu 05-Dec-02 21:06:57

Ds1 used to do this too. At first, I was like your friend, anxious that he was going to hurt himself, or mentally ill or something. Eventually I learnt to ignore him, or just threw him a cushion if he started to do it and walked away. They grow out of it with no lasting effects.

Enchanted Thu 05-Dec-02 22:36:37

I have got the original Head banger on my knee as I type. I was horrified when DS first started it and I shed many a tear over it too. I was lucky enough to have a neighbour who was no stranger to this and gave me some sound advice.
It hurts you more than it hurts him.
Once he realises it is starting to hurt he will find another form of protest.
Try not to react to it.
She was right but it was the hardest thing to ignore but it needed to be ignored. Once I was able to look the other way whilst he cracked his head off all sorts of things, he stopped.
Heartfelt sympathy to your friend because this has to be one of the most worrying phases there is, until the next one of course!

noodlekanoodle Mon 11-Aug-03 07:49:53

My son used to headbutt the floor and the walls and the windows for that matter. Every time he got frustrated or didn't get his own way he would do this. He couldn't tell me how he was feeling about whatever, or couldn't communicate well enough to tell me how he was feeling. He is 5 now and has pretty much stopped doing that now that he can communicate better. Sometimes he hits himself in the head with his hand when he gets frustrated or angry about something, but that is usually when he is tired and can't be bothered talking about it. when he was headbutting things, I couldn't find anything to stop him from doing it. I couldn't find anyway to make him feel better about anything. I tried all sorts of things from picking him up and holding him tight until he finished, to telling him off, to putting him in his cot or bed for a while, to smacking his hand or his bum and telling him to not headbut things. It was horrible and frustrating for him and me. The only thing that worked, was time to develop his speach and social skills.

I had a friend who's son headbutting things as well. They were out and he decided to headbutt the concrete floor which made his head bleed alot and knocked himself unconcious. He recovered fine and doesn't do that anymore. My friend told me that story about 4 years before my boy was born and was the only thing that kept me from going completely nuts, I was about 90% sure it would come to an end. phew!

grommit Mon 11-Aug-03 09:44:03

Did anyone see 'The Baby Whisperer' prog last week? She was called into a house where a toddler was headbanging so much he was bleeding! MOstly this happened when he was put to bed in his cot and at mealtimes when he refused to eat anything. The BW used a combination of tactics including controlled crying and a great deal of patience and perseverence. When the child started the headbanging she would put him on a beanbag which protected him but also gave him something to vent his frustrations on. After a week or so the chold was almost cured but when he did want to have a tantrum he would go to the beanbag by himself. Very interesting

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