Do you have a toddler who bangs his head? Are you concerned that something serious is wrong with your child? The good news is that this is common behavior in toddlers. In fact, up to 20 percent of healthy children will have a period of head banging at some point.
Why do children head bang?
Head banging can be a way for children to relieve tension or soothe themselves, especially for kids who are easily over-stimulated. Some studies suggest that head banging is used as pain relief for children who have ear infections or are teething. Sometimes, little ones have temper tantrums, and they just need attention, so they head bang.
When should I be worried?
It is important to remember that isolated head banging is not usually associated with other problems, such as autism or developmental delay. Also, head banging rarely causes serious head injury. As long as your child is able to function during the day, be patient. It will likely go away on its own. However, if your child has a hard time functioning because of the head banging, it might be time to see a pediatrician.
What should I do?
As with most attention-seeking behavior, the more attention you give it, the more likely head banging is to occur. If your child does not get a strong reaction from you each time he head bangs, the behavior is likely to go away sooner than if you overreact. Be patient. This behavior will likely soon be gone for good.
Reviewed by Dr. Kristie Rivers, September 2020
Word of advice, if at a year old they are beating their head to a bloody pulp. When the pediatric neurologist tells you it is behavier without testing. Get a second opinion. This was our son and the second neurologist performed tests and at 2 and a half years old we found out our son had migrains. Unfortunatly by then it was a learned behavior and at 3 we had to put him into a mental health preschool to get help, this was after he broke my nose.
Very helpful! My 17-month-old has been banging her head on walls and floors when she is tired or having a tantrum. It terrifies me.