Why Toddlers Hit Themselves In The Head And What You Can Do To Stop It

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Parents go through a lot to ensure the wellbeing of the babies. They monitor their sleep, check all the ingredients before they hand over any food, make enquiries about what toys their child should play with- you name it, they’ve done it. They try their hardest to keep up with the various concerns they have about their kids, especially in terms of physical wellbeing. So, you can imagine why watching their kids purposefully banging their heads and hurting themselves can be frustrating and worrying for caregivers. Especially because they have no idea how to stop it or how to help their little one. If you’ve been in this situation before, we’re here to help. Here are a few reasons why your baby would hit themselves in the head and what to do about it.

1. It Might Be A Call For Attention

It Might Be A Call For Attention

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As they grow up, your tiny tot will do anything for your attention, even hit themselves! Toddlers purposely hit their heads as an attention seeking maneuver. How wild is that? As they receive a lot of attention while banging their head from a parent, this action becomes repetitive whenever they want you to stay by their side or fuss over them.

When a child exhibits behavior like this, parents often rush to the child’s aid without a second’s notice. However, if you’d like your child to stop, it’s best not to pay attention to them while they do this action. Now this may be hard, but it’s for the best. Focus instead, on creating a safe environment where your child cannot get injured easily. For example, you can remove any object in their surroundings that they may use against themselves. Once your toddler realizes that their new trick isn’t working anymore, they’ll stop.

2. It’s A Possible Form Of Self Soothing

It’s A Possible Form Of Self Soothing

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In order to feel calm and relaxed, toddlers might start to move in a rhythmic motion. Your baby does this too sometimes when agitated. This is why they love being rocked or gently patted on the back. So if your toddler starts hitting their head right before bedtime, it might just be a method of self stimulation and self soothing.

The best solution for your little one is to establish a self soothing routine for your child that will help them fall asleep and fall back asleep by themselves when they wake up at night without hitting themselves in order to accomplish this task. This routine can consist of a list of tasks that you and your toddler do every day before bedtime. You can also try various techniques like putting them down to bed while they are drowsy and not asleep.

3. It’s A Potential Developmental Problem

It’s A Potential Developmental Problem

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This may just be a parent’s worst fear materialized. Generally, there’s nothing to worry about when you see your 1- to 3-year-old child hit themselves, but in some rare cases, constant headbanging might be related to a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism for example (1).

In order for you to distinguish between a potential neurodevelopmental disorder and other head hitting causes, you will need to observe your toddler intently. Observe the frequency and the time at which they start hitting their heads purposefully. If you notice that the hitting happens before bedtime, it can be normal, however, if you notice other symptoms or the banging becomes uncontrollable, reach out to your pediatrician to get some answers about the situation. However, it is important to keep in mind that only a doctor can officially diagnose a child with autism or any other neurological disorder, so it is best to contact them at the earliest if you suspect that your Childs head hitting tendencies aren’t harmless.

4. It’s A Way Of Expressing Emotions

It’s A Way Of Expressing Emotions

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Have you ever seen an adult hit their head when they are sad or frustrated? This is a pretty common sight to see. So, your kids hitting their head could be for the same reason. Toddlers have not yet fully developed the skills necessary to communicate in sophisticated ways. So hitting themselves in the head may be a way for them to show you that they are upset, sad, angry or just restless.

It’s important to encourage your toddler to express the emotions they are feeling but in healthier, less harmful ways. Incorporate play into their day as a way to teach them self regulation.

There is absolutely no need to worry and freak out if you see your baby hitting themselves on the head on a random tuesday afternoon. These things tend to happen and are easily solved. With a little patience and a few tricks up your sleeve, your toddler will be right as rain in no time! So, has your little one hit themselves on the head? Did you ever find out why? Let us know in the comments section!

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.