Bang, Bang, BANG.
You watch in horror as your child smacks their head on the couch, the wall, the floor, their crib, a door, your leg… whatever happens to be closest to them at the moment. You think to yourself, “That was odd,” and hope you were just hallucinating from lack of sleep.
Bang, Bang, BANG.
Your child then repeats this odd and rather concerning behavior of banging their head and this being the second time you witness this feat, your throat drops into the pit of your stomach as you realize you were NOT hallucinating. Your child is indeed purposely banging their head on things. Now your whole body is tingling and your mind is racing as minor panic mode sets in. You are convinced there is something seriously wrong with your child, so you do what all mothers do best when they have a problem, you Google that shit. You read article, after article until you come to the conclusion your child is indeed a “Headbanger”.
Research says that about 20% of children are headbangers. Reading statistics like this does not make us, as mothers, feel any better. We don’t want our child to be part of statistics like this, and if it’s so common why do none of our friends children seem to be doing it?
Why is my child banging their head?
There could be many reasons you child is banging their head. Self-soothing, pain relief, an outlet for frustration, attention seeking and in some cases developmental disorders seem to be the main reasons toddlers head bang. So, great how do I know which category my child falls into?
In the cases of self-soothing and pain frustration, the offenders often bang their head repeatedly or rhythmically while they are playing or when trying to sooth themselves while the crib. Frustration bangers head banging seems to come more in bursts when they can properly express their feelings or become overly stimulated. Attention seekers may head bang when they want attention from you. Head banging can be a sign or a developmental disorder, but I caution you not to burst into tears yet as headbanging alone is not enough to diagnose a developmental disorder and head banging in itself is quite common.
So what do I do?
Some researchers say you should ignore the behavior, that they will outgrow it. That might be easy for them to say but they don’t have to witness this odd behavior several (or a lot more than several) times a day every day. I am sorry, but when my child is doing a behavior to himself that seems hurtful I am definitely not going to stand around to watch the show. Every time he would smack his head on a cabinet or door, or even the floor I would cringe and fight back tears. There had to be better advice than Ignore the behavior.
We tried holding him when he got frustrated and telling him “No hurt baby,” when he would bang his head. We tried really hard to make sure he got lots of positive attention. We rocked him, a lot. We would place him in a room with carpet, pillows or a bed so he wouldn’t hurt himself (as badly). I figured out my child was a frustration head banger and I engaged other moms for advice. One comment a mother said stood out with me. She said not to worry too much, that it lessens with time and growing communication skills. We had already been trying to teach the babe sign language, but after this comment we ramped up the signing effort and I also made an extra effort to observe him more intensely so I wasn’t missing any of his communication cues. For us the sign language helped immensely. The more he learned to communicate with us the more the head banging began to diminish.
The experts say that most children outgrow head banging by age three, so between now and then while you are trying to deal with this newly discovered toddler trait, try not to worry too much, keep your child as safe as you can while they are head banging, repeat to yourself, it will be okay. I found this snippet by Dr. Alan Greene to help me, “Curiously, one large study of this habit in healthy children found head-bangers to be measurably advanced compared to their peers. If anything, then, head banging in healthy children can be a sign of increased intelligence.” It made me think the problems of head banging might be small compared to the problems that come with a highly intelligent child.
Things have changed so dramatically in the last 25 years. . .
We used to be able to leave our elementary school aged children home by themselves for a few hours before or after school without having to worry that CPS would be called because we were “neglecting them.”
Our children used to be able to walk or ride their bikes a half a mile or mile away to the school playground and play by themselves unsupervised without us having to worry that CPS would be called because again we were “neglecting them.”
We used to be able to choose whether or not to take our child to the doctor for an illness or use what home remedies our parents used for generations without having to worry someone might call CPS because we were not “providing appropriate” medical care for our children.
We used to be able to spank our children when they did something wrong, or have them sit in the bathroom with a bar or soap in their mouths, or have them stand in the corner without having to worry about someone calling CPS because we are “abusing” our child.
Isn’t leaving children home for short periods of time, or letting them play at a nearby park unsupervised fostering independence and building character? I have lots of fond memories of many hours of park play unsupervised and I don’t think I am any worse for ware. We worry about safety. That someone might snatch our child from the park, but could me not prevent that by sending them in groups? Was it really “safer” 25 years ago? We have brilliant technology nowadays and our children have cell phones so we can find out where they are in seconds. . . we can put GPS trackers in our children’s shoes and watches and track where they are on our computers. We have surveillance camera’s virtually everywhere. In fact I just noticed some at a park around the corner from my parents house where I used to play as a child. So why can’t we let our children play without us?
I rarely remember going to the doctor as a child. When we were ill we got to be sick and miserable on the couch or in bed with Mom checking on us to make sure we weren’t too bad off, until the bug passed. If it stuck around too long, then we made the trek to the doctor (but this was rare). No one said this was wrong. No one said this was neglectful. It’s just the way it was. Doctors can’t cure a cold, they can give you ways to treat the symptoms, but as long as you don’t have a dangerously high fever shouldn’t you be able to just treat the symptoms at home, naturally (like people have done for thousands of years before the invention of modern medicine?) without having to worry that someone will tell you you are abusing your child and threaten to take them away?
We used to be able to discipline our children as we saw fit. Children were smacked on the bottom and hands. They were made to sit and stand in corners. They were made to sit in “time-out”. Sitting in the bathroom with a bar of soap in your mouth for cursing was not an uncommon practice. I remember getting smacked on the butt, smacked on the hand with a wooden spoon, sitting in timeout, sitting in my room, being grounded and sitting in the bathroom with a bar of soap in my mouth. And do you know what? I think I turned out okay. So why is it that if I use the same types of punishments today that my parents’ used on me as a child that there is a chance someone might report that as abuse? (Disclaimer: There is a difference between hitting and beating. I am not in anyway advocating hitting or beating your child. I will tell you though if my child is about to touch a hot stove I am not above smacking their hand to stop them from burning themselves. I do not advocate repeatedly hitting your child with your hand, belt or other object to me that is beating and it means there is more wrong with you than the child, but that’s another blog post and some therapy. . .)
When did our society become so soft? How do we keep it from becoming softer? How do we teach our children independence if we can’t let them roam? How can we teach them right and wrong if our list of consequences for them is extremely limited. Why do we now have to take our children to the doctor for every little minor illness? When did it become okay that the government seems to want to take our rights as parents away? Because the government’s track record of raising “wholesome well-adjusted kids” they have taken from their parents is gleamingly spotless, right? Why is it the ways of our childhood are no longer the “right” ways? How do we change and get things back to a simpler way?
What do you think?
Everyone loves an easy meal. One of my favorite’s is 3 ingredient chicken taco’s in the crock pot. It’s easy, doesn’t require much in the amount of prep time, delicious and you can have enough for 2 simple dinners.
3 Ingredient Chicken Taco’s
4 chicken breasts
1/2 a jar of your favorite salsa (at least a cup)
1 package of taco seasoning (or 1 batch of homemade taco seasoning)
Cook on low for 8 hours (or all day while you’re gone at work). By the time it’s done cooking, the chicken is so tender it shreds as you mix it up. Heat up some rice and beans, and add your favorite toppings for yummy chicken taco’s.
Night Two, I made quesadilla’s with the leftover chicken and black beans. I food processed the leftover black beans to make refried black beans, shredded cheese and added leftover chicken to tortilla’s, heated them in a skillet and had a second simple, delicious and easy meal in just a few minutes.
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”