How to Deal with Head Banging in Children

Head banging is very common in children. Studies have shown that boys are much more likely to do this than girls. The habit may first appear around 6 months of age and could continue until the child is 24 months in age. Almost all children outgrow this habit by the time they are three years old.

Causes of Head Banging in Children 

  • Self-comfort: The most common reason why children bang their head is because they are looking for self-comfort. The rhythmic action of this habit helps to relax them and even helps them fall asleep.
  • Pain relief: If the child is suffering from ear pain or teething, then indulging in head banging could distract him/her from the pain.
  • Frustration: Toddlers may also start to bang their heads if they are angry, frustrated or throwing a tantrum. It is not easy for them to express all of their emotions just yet and this habit may be an outlet for those emotions. Even children as young as a few months can feel stress, but they do not have the ability to express those emotions at the time.
  • A need for attention: Head banging in kids may also arise from a need to attract attention. Children are very quick to understand and learn what brings attention towards them. If they find that their parents or caregivers are fussing over them because of this head banging, then they may continue to do so even more.
  • A developmental problem: Head banging may also be the sign that the child is suffering from some developmental problems. The sign is not enough to diagnose anything on its own; however, it could raise some suspicion particularly if other signs are observed as well. Autism, Tourette’s syndrome, and obsessive compulsive disorder are some of the conditions that could be associated with head banging in children.

What Can You Do About It?

1. Give Your Child Your Attention When He/She Is Not Banging

If you notice that your child is head banging, then resist the urge to pay attention to it. Instead, provide plenty of attention when your child is not banging head.

By making a fuss or even scolding the child for the habit, parents often end up making things worse than before. Remember that your child does not really understand why he/she is wrong, so shouting at or scolding your child will not work.

2. Protect Your Child from Injury

Children often bang their heads on the sides of their cribs, so it is necessary to make sure that this act does not cause any nuts or bolts to become loose. Check for the structural integrity of the crib every few months.

You can keep some quilt or a soft cover on the side of the crib so that the child does not injure his/her head. Some parents keep a lot of stuffed toys or cushions in the crib to protect their child, but care should be taken to ensure they do not become a suffocation hazard.

3. Help Foster Your Child's Love of Rhythm in Other Ways

Your child may bang his/her head because he/she likes rhythm. In this case, you can foster your child's love of rhythm in other ways.

Encourage the child to clap with you in rhythm. Marching or drumming can also serve as a healthy outlet. Parents can keep rhythmic music running in their child’s room as well.

4. Apply a Soothing Bedtime Routine

Head banging in children can also be a way to calm down at the end of the day. If you find that your child is engaging in the habit after a long day, then try to set up other bedtime routines like a warm bath or some bedtime stories and soft music to help them sleep.

Routines are very soothing to children and can help foster good habits.

5. Consult a Doctor

If none of the suggestions mentioned above help, then you should definitely take your child to see a doctor. Try to outline your concerns to the doctor so that he/she will take it seriously. Sometimes this habit is defined as normal when further investigation needs to be done.

If you keep a journal, then try to look into what happened before and after the occurrence of head banging. You may find that a specific food is the culprit.

If you find yourself worrying about the safety and well-being of your child, then take him/her to the emergency room. Head banging in children may be a routine sign in most cases but could also indicate a more serious underlying condition in rare instances.