17 Month Old Daughter Hits Head as a Result of Temper Tantrum! Help!!

Updated on March 18, 2008
A.B. asks from Silver City, NM
19 answers

My 17 month old daughter will violently hit her head on anything in reach when she doesn't get her way. She hits her head on the floor, tables or anything else, sometimes causing injury! I have tried stopping her midway in her attempt, but it seems useless. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!!!

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S.D.

answers from Phoenix on

my sister put her kids in cold showers for that behavior and it worked awesome for her. A few times .... and she will be done with this.

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T.C.

answers from Phoenix on

Sounds like you have a strong willed child. I had one also but it started more at three. The following website has some great info about head banging.

http://www.drgreene.com/21_1104.html. It will probably give you some assurance.

The best thing you can do is to try to avoid situations that send her off and make sure to not try to do errands etc. when she is tired or hungry. Instead of saying no you can try to redirect by using "you can .....instead".

Also, don't try to rush to take away things that comfort her, i.e. pacifier, bottle etc. To often society tells us to get rid of every peace of comfort a toddler uses to soothe themselves. When those things are gone and they still can't express themselves verbally very well it can make for a very frustrating existence for them.

T. C.
Spa Girlfriend Parties
www.spaescapescottsdale.com

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C.W.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi A.,

I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. Unfortunately you are not alone. Our first child was a head banger. I'm told that there are two types, those who stop when they realize that it hurts and those who don't. Ours didn't. I don't remember exactly how it stopped since it was 6 years ago now, but it did. I checked on the internet, search for "head banging", children, tantrum. Something like that should get you plenty of information about it. Some say that the best thing to do with tantrums is just ignore them. Sometimes this works, but with my child of 2 definitely short timeouts with me sitting right there and a very strong no was very effective. You do have to be consistent and loving and patient. They are learning so much, including the english language, and I think they will trust you and learn to obey when they know (from experience) that you love them. I think that it is important to teach the child that it is not okay to hurt him/herself. So, in this case I don't think the idea of ignoring them is best. I have found a book by James Dobson, called The Strong Willed Child to be very encouraging. One piece of especially helpful advice was to be patient with the toddler who is doing something that you don't want them to do. The advice is to be loving, firm, patient and not to back down. We don't have to get angry or yell, just explaining to them and showing them what you mean (it may take from 1 or 100 times), but they will get it. This so encouraged me that I put it into practice and as a result found the infamous terrible twos to not be so terrible, I even enjoyed them. One thing that I think deceives us as parents is that in the moment we can get frustrated thinking that we don't have time to deal with the tantrums and disobedience and disrespect, but I think the honest truth is that that is the very reason we are the parent is to teach them the way to go. Each trial can be an opportunity to teach them if we can hold it together, remember who's the child and stick to the plan. They need to know that know matter how they act that you aren't going to change, that your love for them is unconditional. This more than any strategy will give them the security that they are desperately seeking. A teacher at school told us once that if a child knows the boundaries, that they will direct all their energy toward learning, but if the boundaries change they will direct all their energy toward finding the boundary (i.e. tantrums). After 8 years of parenting I think that this is so true.
I also find sign language to be an incredibly helpful tool with a toddler. As they are beginning to know what they want but don't know how to express it, they get very frustrated. Just knowing a few signs, like: more, please, hungry, thirsty, yes, no, mom, dad, etc... can make this time so much easier for them. I found this little bit in a book called Toddlerwise, by Gary Ezzo. Great book and great series by the way. Here's one website with some simple signs http://www.signwithme.com/images/SWM_cheat_sheet.jpg
I hope that everything goes well with your daughter. If all else fails or even to start, I highly suggest praying for wisdom. That is the one thing that has truly never failed me.

Kindest Regards,

C.

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J.L.

answers from Tucson on

I had a step daughter that did this, plus pull her hair out in chunks when she was upset. I thought that she had Aspbergers Syndrome, but a psychologist suggested a different form of parenting. One of your daughters problems seems to be that she is really a smart little girl. She know how to get your goat!! The only thing that saved me with my step daughter was a book by Thomas W. Phelan. It is called 123 MAGIC. You can find it on the internet, and usually Barnes and Noble or Borders. They also can order it for you. I kind of was reluctant to read it, but when I did I was glad for it's simplicity. It is an easy to read book. I read it in one day cuz I needed help with her so badly. Good luck!!

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K.N.

answers from Phoenix on

A., I know everyone has given you different types of advice. I hope you take it all in. I remember a story my mom told me about temper tantrums when I was that age, and she use to walk away from me, to a different room, and when I realized she was not in there, I would walk to the room she was in, and start it all over again. She would leave again, without saying a word to me. She said with her not giving me the attention during the tantrum, I would give up. She said it only lasted a week.

My kids never threw tanturms, until later. My 10 year old throws them, now. And we ignore him, and after two to five minutes, he comes back appologizing for throwing his tantrum. It was not until about three months ago, when we realized what we should be doing, and not what we were doing.

Good luck in this phase.

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A.K.

answers from Phoenix on

Have you ever heard of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)? It is easy to do and very effective. You can learn it and teach her to do when she is getting upset. It is a relaxation technique. You just tap certain places along your head and chest area. If you like I could help you out with it. My name is A. and I am a EFT Practitioner. Just email me privately at [email protected]____.com me a bit more about you and your lovely family. Also when is the best time to talk on the phone. I look forward to hearing from you soon but until then if you want to know more about this wonderful healing technique just go to www.emofree.com and check it out.

Sincerely
A.

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P.S.

answers from Phoenix on

I have a nephew who used to hold his breath and appear to pass out, it freaked his parents out to the point that they would call 911. He did it one day while I was there and I told them to pour a glass of cold water on his....it was the last time he tried it. Try SuppperNanny.com for more tips on handling tantrums. Remember, she is testing you, so be strong:)

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C.S.

answers from Phoenix on

This might sound a little mean, but it works. The next time she has a fit take a cup of water and pour it on her head. This will shock her and she will at first not know how to react to it. Yes she will scream after, but which is more important her safety and not hitting her head or a little crying after the water is on her head? This might take a couple of tries for her to realize you will not allow her to continue the fits and hitting her head on what ever object is near her. Good luck.
Christina

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J.H.

answers from Phoenix on

I have 17 month old twins. One of them started hitting his head like your daughter a few months ago. I was concerned since none of my other kids did it (I have 4).
I tried stopping him, he got hysterical. I tried dropping him in an empty playpen so he couldn't hurt himself, but the tantrum seemed to last longer that way. Finally, I spoke to my pediatrician about it. She said to let him go. It is his way of comforting himself. He may get a bruise or two but won't seriously hurt himself. And the more attention you give it, the longer it continues. When he calms down, she recommended picking him up, making sure he's ok and letting him know he is still loved (but not giving in to him). Within 2 weeks he stopped completely.
Best of luck with your daughter.

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W.S.

answers from Tucson on

hi I have 3 children with autism, and I have been taught that all behavior good and bad is a form of communication,my boys have GI issues and some times cannot express what they are feeing so they will do odd behaviors.not all doctors agree with this but listen to you motherly intuition it could be a medical issue even as simple as mild allergies,we also have that issue and again will do different behaviors I am always trying to decode what the behavior is telling me,and also what is her pay off from you when she does this? sometimes i have reinforced negative behaviors,and not realized it until a few times or days later even a negative consequence could be reinforcing.good luck hang in there i know it is hard when your child is having a tanrtum.

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B.G.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi A.,
That sounds like a very difficult situation. I am a speech therapist and have worked with kids under 3 for many years. The first thing that comes to my mind of course is, how is her language? Is she able to express herself a little yet? It can be more frustrating for little kids when they can not talk. If she isn't, I would model language for her when she is mad, such as ('You're mad. Tell mommy, 'I'm mad!'). Now, you would not expect that she would actually say that, but you want to model it for her so she has another way to express her anger. If she is not talking yet, I would also recommend modeling signs for her so she can express herself. You can also look into a free developmental evaluation done through the state's early intervention program. But also, make sure she is always safe and as long as she is, do not react to her head banging. Many parents get very worked up, and rightfully so, but it only continues to encourage the child to get a great reaction from mom. I hope that helps and if you have any questions call me.

B. Garland
Saving our children from dangerous chemicals
www.GettingYouGreen.com

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A.J.

answers from Phoenix on

I have a 15month old and our doctor warned us that the temper tamtrums on right around the corner...he was right. He told us that some kids hold their breath, bang their heads, stomp, scream anything to get attention. He said just ignor it (while watching) if that makes sence. Once she relizes that you don't "care" she will give it up. I know it sounds hard and it is but it works. Sometimes it takes longer than other time but for the most part it works. Now the actual injury part is it just bruses or does she cause bleeding? You could try picking her up & putting her on the carpet or a cushion and let her bang away there. Just a thought.
Good Luck & God Bless
A.
www.romance2nite.com

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B.K.

answers from Albuquerque on

A.,
Have you ever thrown a glass of cold water in her face when she starts her temper tantrums???
Doing that stopped my son from having temper tantrums and causing injury to himself when he was little...And it won't hurt them to get wet...I did this to children I baby set too and it stopped the temper tantrums.....Hope this helps you...B. K (I am now a grandmother)

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M.G.

answers from Phoenix on

A.,

I am so glad you asked this question. My 22-month-old son does the same thing when he gets upset. My husband and I will try to distract him when he starts banging his head or hitting his head. Sometimes the distraction works, sometimes it doesn't. Many people have told me that he will grow out of it and not to give him the attention he's looking for when he has the tantrum. When my son starts hitting his head my husband and I will either walk away so he knows he won't get the attention he seeks by using this negative behavior or we move him to the carpet so he won't hurt himself while banging his head. My mom also gave me the advice that so many others gave you - splash the child with water. I have actually done that a few times with my son and it worked. I am just so glad you asked this question because I thought maybe my husband and I were doing something wrong or something was wrong with our son. Now I know this is a common problem for many parents and we're not alone. Good luck with whatever you decide to do and hopefully your daughter will stop this behavior soon.

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A.M.

answers from Albuquerque on

my litlle one did that, i had a play pen, and when she did that i put her in it, and walked of, part of the reason the do that, is to get a response from you,maybe try not saying a word, pick her up take her to a safe place, like a play pin or her crib,and ignore it for about 5 mins, let her know that hurting herself is not the thing to do, it may take a month or two, but it will stop, and then she'll try somthing else to pull your strings. when my daughter did that, if you don't have a playpin or crib, restrain her in her stroller, or carseat, you don't won't her to hit her head to hard. also maybe, if you notice a situation, that is going to end up in a tantrum, try to distract her with somthing, a funny face, or make a big deal, about an object, exp. she's about to get mad and, you pick something she doesn't see allot of, ans say WOW!!! look at this!!! is n't it net do you won't to touch it!!!, mayby in and funny voice, with funny faces, it doesn't always work but it's worked quite a few times for me.

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S.F.

answers from Eugene on

How are you responding to it? You might be giving her positive reinforcement for her negative behavior and not realizing it. I had a friend (Master in Psych) whose son would hold his breath and pass out as a baby during a tantrum. She played the indifference card and it soon stopped.

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L.G.

answers from Austin on

Hi A.,

My daughter used to stand in her crib and hit her head on the wooden part of the crib each night when she didn't want to go to bed. She would have a bump from the previous night and still hit her head. She finally stopped when we didn't react to her. If she sees you coming to her and giving her any attention at all, it will continue. My pediatrician said she would stop if I would pretend like it didn't bother me. If you have a strong-willed child, they will do anything to get their way. You cannot let them control you. They really need to know that you are in control and not them. When my daughter would have a tantrum in the middle of the store aisle, I would calmly tell her I will be over here when she is done. Of course I went to the next aisle and watched her where she couldn't see me. She would just get up and come find me because it didn't work. I suggest the same thing. Just say, "When you are done, I will be over here." If you give her what she wants even one time, she will do it again and again, hoping that you will give in one time. Dr. James Dobson has great books that helped me over the years: "The Strong-Willed Child," "Parenting Isn't for Cowards," and "Dare to Discipline." I read each of them in succession over and over again.

L.

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L.C.

answers from Flagstaff on

Put a pillow under her head to keep her from hurting herself. I would start giving her words to describe her feelings. When she is having a trantrum, tell her, "Seems like you are very angry. Can Mommy help you?" Teach her to say she is mad and teach ways to manager her anger. Tantrums are normal for this age too.

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A.W.

answers from Phoenix on

Hey A. -

My now 32 month old daughter did this and started it about the same age that your daughter is now. She did grow out of it and no longer does it - I think it stopped sometime around the time she turned two.

I just let her hit her head...which may be bad parenting, but I let her get hurt and then didn't cuttle her when she was hurt and instead reinforced that if you hit your head on purpose, that's what happenes and you shouldn't hit your head on things. I also didn't let her hitting her head on things change the subject - I still dealt with what was causing the tantrum in the first place. She learned that hitting her head on things didn't get her out of what she was trying to get out of and gave her a headache and she gradually stopped.

Not sure if it's the best parenting advice but it worked well for us and she gave it up pretty quickly!

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