15 Month Old - Banging Head on Floor

Updated on October 10, 2010
K.S. asks from Hinton, OK
21 answers

The past several months when my 15 month old gets upset or doesn't get his way he starts hitting his head on the ground- doesn't matter if its carpet, tile, etc. I've started swatting him and making him sit down on the couch or somewhere by himself which helps for that tantrum but the next time he does it all over again. I was wondering if anyone has went through this with their young child- if I should just walk away and leave him or what steps should I take to keep him from doing this.
Thank you all so much!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Hattiesburg on

My brother (who is now 34 years old) used to do this when he was little. He had a bad temper when he was a little guy which is odd because he's so laid back now lol. My mom said she got tired of picking him up and re-directing him so she just started walking off and ignoring him. When he realized it wasn't working, he stopped.

More Answers



answers from Mobile on

Hi, K.. I have a daughter that just turned 2 and she does the same thing! You would think that it hurts them, but I guess not! She has been doing this since she was about 17 months old. At first, I tried consoling her, but that didn't even help a little bit! Now when she does it, I just tell her that I'm gonna go in the other room while she throws her fit. As soon as she sees that I'm not watching, she stops. I talked to the pediatrician after she started doing this, and he is the one that reccomended that I ignore her. It has not stopped her from throwing the fits completely, but they have gotten further and further apart. I hope this helps you with your little boy.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is 1 years old and has been doing this on and off since she could sit up. She is a very good baby happy friendly, with great verbal communication. Although my Doctor also said to ignore, I am very afraid she will hurt her self one day, because saying 'they will stop when it hurts' just doesnt cut it for me. I want her to stop. She is also a very passionate crier, so if she does cry she will cry so hard she will tremble its very scary and annoying you would think someone just snapped her leg off and she would do this if lets say, I move her away from something or don't read her her book the second she puts it in my face. I'm frustrated.



answers from Oklahoma City on

John Rosemond in "Making the 'Terrible' Twos Terrific!" suggests setting aside a special place in the home as a "head banging space". He says that while paying attention to the head banging only encourages it, you can't ignore it either. What you do is mark a spot on the wall or the floor in an out-of-the-way spot (not on a wall stud, btw) and at a quiet moment you tell your kid that whenever he wants to bang his head, he is to come to this spot, and what a wonderful spot it is - then demonstrate by banging your head a couple times and saying how wonderful. He will likely look at you like you've lost your marbles. Then, next time he starts banging his head, you remind him that he has a special place to bang his head, and you take him there and then leave him to it. Rosemond says this is a way of removing the child from your attention, which they want, and it's a way of drawing attention to the silliness of the behavior without you getting bent out of shape. (The book is a really good read and very helpful with our toddler.)



answers from Pine Bluff on

Along the lines of Alicia D - my 6yo DD and I were in the store the other day when she wanted a bag of chips. I said "no" and she started to get loud, demanding these chips! I raised my voice a little bit and said (in a fun tone), "Hey, you know what's even BETTER? When you lay down on the floor and kick and scream!" The checkout girl and woman behind me in line were like, LOL, and my DD looked at me like I had 5 heads! She goes, "No!" I said, "Well, then go put those chips back up and let's go!" :>

My point is, it's likely that if you actually get down to the level of ridiculousness that they're on, they realize how they are really acting and stop!



answers from Lafayette on

My son did the same thing at that age. It was quite a shock as my first two children - both girls - had not done anything like it! Apparently it's a normal part of development and is more likely to occur in boys than girls. It has something to do with them having extreme emotions and not knowing how to express them in a healthy way. I agree with the mom who said to just walk out of the room - that's basically what we did, ignored it and the behavior quickly went away.



answers from Enid on

My son did this also and I agree with everyone to ignore it. If your little one continues to lash out with frustration as he gets older (mine is a hitter) you could try a "hitting" pillow. Find a small pillow and tell him he can hit it, bite it, bang his head on it, whatever he wants when he's frustrated. This might help, too and will teach him to redirect his anger in a safer way. He'll outgrow it!


answers from Oklahoma City on

my brother would do that and my grandma got down in the floor and did the same thing that he was doing and he got up and looked a her and quiet and never did it again. so it works. good luck



answers from Lawton on

Hi, C. here from oklahoma. I'm a grandmother raising our 5 year old grandson.We've been married for 40 years this coming july. Our oldest son used to do the head banging thing.. he would do it on the hardest surfaced floor we had.. what I did was to calmly pick him up and carry him to his room(where the floor was covered in carpet). I said 'you can bang your head in here and when you are done banging it you can come out and play. It took about 3 days before he learned that he would not get the attention that he wanted by banging his head so he stopped. This is just another form of temper tantrum. Don't raise your voice. Just tell him that you love him and you don't want him to get hurt and then calmly carry him to his room and give him some of his favorite toys..
Has anything in your lifestyle changed? Perhaps you are spending more more time with your job and school and he is just demanding what he thinks is his share.. A little child doens't know how to tell you that he wants your attention or that he is unhappy or that he wants something so they try to tell you in the only way they know how.
Our son did this right after we adopted him and he was in a foster home with 17 other foster kids so he probably learned that he could get attention by banging his head..
Hope you can find a solution to your problem. Good luck



answers from Little Rock on

My son did it too. I don't remember exactly what age it started (around a year) or stopped (around 2) He didn't throw "proper" screaming tantrums at that time, he just banged his head on the floor. We asked the pediatrician about it & he said it's not a problem unless they continue it when they're 3 or 4. If it hurts they'll stop. And ignore it so you don't reinforce it. It's hard to do when they're doing it in the kitchen where there's no carpet, though.

When my son did grow out of it, mostly on his own, he started hitting the floor, the wall, or some nearby hard object with his hand. He went through a phase that he would do this repeatedly until it hurt his hand. Kind of strange that he wanted it to hurt. I finally convinced hubby to ignore it, and he's 3 now & rarely does that anymore, though he did do it once yesterday. Tantrums in general are a result of the child feeling that they have lost control & they can't communicate their feelings.

Strange side note: I actually did this occasionally on the wall (paneling, not sheetrock) as a teenager & a couple times even as an adult when I was alone to let off steam or when I had a headache. Of course, at that age I could control the force so it wouldn't hurt. It's surprisingly therapeutic. (No, I am not a nut job.) :)



answers from Birmingham on

ok this may sound bizaar but when my uncle was a baby he used to hold his breathe when he was mad. It got so bad that it started to scare everyne so every time he did it my grandma would throw water at his face so he would stop holding it. Im not saying to do the water thing but maybe you need to try to get creative yourself to interact that kind of behavior if you know what I mean. Interupt him. Get his attention. That kind of behavior cant be good. Have a baby talk with him too. lol
I see you work ft and go to school
sometimes kids have behavorial problems because moms are so busy the more relaxed u r the more he will be. Send me a private message if yo are interested in hearing about a way you can go to school and stay at home and work making a reliable income.



answers from Alexandria on

As long as he is not hurting himself just ignore this behavior. He is just looking for attention. Once he realizes that this will not work he will (should) stop.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Want the good news or the bad news? The good news is twofold: 1. Most head-banger babies are physically rather advanced. 2. He WILL outgrow it!

Now for the bad news: you probably have another year or two before that outgrowing thing happens *sigh*

My son did (does) this. He started right about 11 months and has tapered off over the last two months or so (he'll be two next week). Blocking him always just made it worse, since, when I tried to restrain him, I got attacked by him.

Usually, what I'd do is slide my hand between his head and the hard surface, look away from him and just wait. When he'd start to calm down, I'd then pull him into my arms, where he'd snuggle down and start to settle.

Most head-banging-in-anger is a result of the disconnect between "I can do it" and "I can't understand/say/explain" what it is I want to do." As his language skills get better, he'll stop having so many tantrums.

See if he he's not hungry, tired, frustrated, irritated, lonely or sad to set the tantrums off. My baby starts throwing fits about 30 minutes before he gets sleepy and 10 minutes after he gets hungry (or finishes eating. Whichever comes first LOL).

Patience. He doesn't know what he's doing, exactly, so punishing him may just make it worse (ask me how I know. No, don't... LOL). This'll pass. And then he'll find a new way to worry and frustrate you ;)



answers from Huntsville on

You are certainly facing a lot of challenges and I will pray for your success. As far as the head banging,
or tantrum, when my children were young I kept a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator. I would spray the one having the tantrum and it always shocked them (didn't hurt)into stopping. My children say they remember that and couldn't believe mummy would make them wet but it worked haha. Good luck with school and life my dear. I will be praying for you.



answers from Jonesboro on

This is just a stage. It is actually pretty common for boys to do this and even some girls.Right now they are starting to know what they want, but unfortunately they still don't have the capability to communicate it to you. As their fine motor skills dramatically improve over the next several months and as their vocabulary improves the head banging will start to tapper of. This was the case with my son. Once he started picking up new words everyday and he could "use his words" to tell us what he was wanted and understood our responses he head banging practically stopped.
I also wouldn't worry too much because they won't hit their head so hard they hurt themself. Or if they do, they won't hit as hard in the same place again. When my little sister was small she was a head banger. One day she decided to throw and tantrum and do this on the concrete and discovered it was hard and hurt. The next time she got down to hit her head on the sidewalk she stopped short and just barely tapped it. So I agree with most everyone else and ignore it. It worked for us.



answers from Oklahoma City on

My daughter did the exact same thing. Our pediatrician said that toddlers do this because they are frustrated because their language skills are limited and they can't express themselves. I asked what we should do about it and he said absolutely nothing, his words were "if it hurts she'll stop". He also suggested ignoring them when they do it because it reenforces the negative behavior if you provide attention during an episode (whether it be positive or negative). Your son will grow out of this, my daughter did within 6 months. Stay positive, this too shall pass.



answers from New Orleans on

You should restrain him until the tantrum is over. Sit on the floor, hold him with his back to your chest, Your weak arm across his chest and arms. If he is kicking put your leg over his and if he is still banging his head use your strong arm to hold his head back against your chest with your hand across his forehead like you are checking for a fever.
He may fight you for an hour the first time but it will not keep escalating. Stay calm at all times and speak softly to him. when you feel the tantrum subsiding you can release your grip one area at a time, until just your weak arm is left across his chest. then turn him around for a hug and a kiss.
I know how extreme this sounds but I have lived this before when I was nany in my 20's. The pediatrian showed mom how to hold him, she showed me and Dad. Dad thought it was crazy and refused. The little boy ended up with stiches in his forehead because he through a tantrum when he was home alone with dad and he just walked away.
The tantrum comes a frustration with being unable to communicate what he wants or how he feels. You should begin with correcting that immediatly and no swatting ever. You are teaching him this lesson when you do that "if some does something you don't like ,hit them."
He is not likely to hug in anger or frustration, but hitting in anger or frustration is a instinct that we should be teaching him not to follow.



answers from Birmingham on

Isn't this just the craziest thing and it's hard to believe they even think about doing this!! Our daughter did it a few times and my niece did too. My sister and I were concerned but couldn't help but laugh at it a little. We would both just look at them while scatting down in front of them and say NO NO firmly and walk away. They didn't do it much and may keep screaming for a minute but it was truly just to get our immediate attention. It ended for us pretty quickly. Hope it does for you too.



answers from Fayetteville on

My doctor said to ignore it. It's not always that they're dong it for attention, but they won't keep doing it if they're not getting any reaction. Seemed to work well for my daughter who did the same thing. Now she'll just lay down on the floor, but not too often. I was grateful to get past the head banging. But if she changes it to hitting walls or banging her head on you, try just putting her down and walking away, because she's just trying a different method of the same thing to try and get a reaction. The best reaction is no reaction for this behavior at this age, or a diversion, but you have to make sure they don't connect the diversion to the tantrum having a positive affect. Read about tantrums on webmd.com for more info, too.

I also like Cheryl W's advice - I may have to try that with our next tantrum. :)



answers from Enid on

You have received excellent advice. One other DIFFERENT SUGGESTION. My daughter liked to throw them in public. Finallly, we where at my work and she started in kicking and screaming (my co-worker suggested it so they weren't totally shocked) I laid down beside her and started doing the exact same thing only louder. She sat up, looked at me and actually had "real tears!" She begged mommy please stop and hugged me. She never through a tantrum again!!!! If I had it to do all over, I think I would do it in the middle of Walmart if I had too!! IT STOPPED HER IN HER TRACKS!! Just don't hit your head harder to prove a point! LOL. We then later talked about other ways of trying to communicate and get rid of frustrations.

Next question: Child Banging Head