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Emotions and Behavior Problems in Children: Toddler Banging Head

Updated on June 12, 2015
Many children need help expressing their inner feelings
Many children need help expressing their inner feelings | Source

What is this "Toddler Head Banging"?

What is toddler head banging? Head banging in toddlers is what it sounds like - a child banging his/her head on purpose. Children may bang against anything from a wall to your dining room table. Boys are more likely to display this type of behavior than girls are. Head banging in children is a fearful sight for parents to witness and so, naturally parents want to know why their child does such a thing and how they can help put a stop to it. There is a variety of reasons why children may bang their heads. Some of the reasons could be for comfort, out of frustration and anger, or simply because they are tired. This article will focus more on head banging out of anger and frustration.

If you have confirmed that your toddler bangs his head out of anger, then it is likely you want to know what you can do as a parent.

Parenting Tips that Help

Teach Your Child to Express his Emotions Properly

Toddlers who head bang out of frustration or anger often do so when they are having a temper tantrum. Since they lack the ability to express their emotions and feelings, they turn to head banging as a form of venting or letting out their feelings. When my son would exhibit this behavior during a temper tantrum, I sought out how I could help him the next time he had a tantrum to not bang his head. Since I knew he was doing it because he didn't know how to express his anger, I decided to tackle that area. When he had his next tantrum and I knew he was going to bang his head, before he could, I held him and I calmly and sympathetically discussed his feelings with him. This helped him to calm down and it prevented a potential head banging episode.

There are a lot of books that you can purchase online or get from your local library that is designed to help children express their emotions. You can get these books and read them with your toddler, helping them understand the different emotions we feel and how we can properly express those feelings. The Way I Feel and When I Feel Sad are but two examples of books that can help both you and your child communicate.

As adults, we thrive on positive attention. Our children are no different, they too need proper love and affection.
As adults, we thrive on positive attention. Our children are no different, they too need proper love and affection. | Source

Could Your Child be Lacking the Attention he Needs

Giving your child the proper attention they need is very important because "attention seeking" is a common reason some children head bang. As a parent, I felt I was providing my son with an adequate amount of attention, but I also felt that a little more attention wouldn't hurt. Therefore, in little ways I would provide a little more attention along with affection towards him to be sure that he is receiving what he needs. Simple ways you can do this is by reading books together, engaging in pretend play or eating a meal together.

It is often noted that children who lack sufficient attention from their parents are at risk for developing issues that range from depression to anger problems. Life as a parent can be pretty hectic at times, however, spending quality time with your child will ensure that he is getting the love and attention he needs to develop properly.

Disciplining Your Head Banging Toddler

It is very easy to get upset and agitate over your toddler's head banging because you don't want them to hurt themselves. If you choose to discipline your child for the behavior, it is wise to do so in a loving and kind way. You want to be firm and clear about not engaging in such conduct, but you don't want to be harsh or overly worked up to the point of losing control and provoking the behavior. I would firmly tell my son that I did not want him to do that because I didn't want him to get hurt. I would place my hand on his head to stop him and then get down on his level and firmly tell him that "he is not going to hurt himself". I would acknowledge how he was feeling and again tell him how mommy didn't want him to hurt his head.

When our feelings are acknowledged as adults, we feel appreciated. Children need that same acknowledgement. As parents, we can acknowledge and still stand firm (but loving) on our rules or views concerning disapproved behavior.

The key to success is consistency and yes, children do grow out of head banging or temper tantrums, but trying the methods above can get you on your way to relief for you and your family. It is important to know that some children head bang for other reasons. Some children may more serious behavior issues that would need medical attention. If you suspect that your child may be showing more aggressive signs of anger along with head banging, it is important to seek help from a medical professional.


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