6 Year Old Hurting Herself

Updated on July 31, 2012
T. asks from Tucson, AZ
25 answers

I have a 6 year old daughter and i am at my wits end with dealing with her. I need help and i think she does too. She throws fit 5 to 7 times a week. She will throw herself on the floor like a two year old. Scream at the top of her lungs and some times hurt herself. she bangs her head on the ground or wall. Recently she smashed her face into the ground and nearly broke her nose. It was bleeding, purple and scratched. She also pulls out fistfull of hair. I think something is wrong with her, but my husband thinks this is normal 6 year old beahvior. She recently woke everyone in the house up at 2 am because she wanted to sleep with the dog. Screamed at the top of her lungs. I also have a 1 yr old. This behavior has been happening since she was 3. She is globally gifted. Exstremely smart. Scored 98% on GATES. She does have problems making friends and playing with other children. She gets straight a's and doesnt have any problems at school other than socialy. What are your opinions. My husbands thinks something is wrong with me. I think he's in denial and needs to wake up before she really hurts herself!

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So What Happened?

So i called her Pediatrician this morning who i've talked to when she was five also and he told me the same thing again. He says when she has a temper tantrum to ignore her even if she hurts herself. He said let her do nd if she hurts herself bad enough she'll stop. He said to only intervene if she tries to kill herslef. He also gave me the number to a behavior therapist. My husband doesn't want to take her though. So we are going to watch her for a month. I am going to log down every tantrum and see if they start to get better. If not i don't care what he says i'm going to get her help.
I noticed a bruise on her forehead this morning and a knot from her headbanging. I'm concerned her teacher is gonna report it and call CPS on us.

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answers from Phoenix on

I did not get a chance to read the other responses but I definitely say that this is not normal behavior for a 6yr old. I have a 6yr old of my own and I am around many 6yr olds because of this. I would definitely take her to get some help. I'm very sorry you are going through this and I wish you the best!

Mother of two little girls (4yrs & 6yrs)



answers from Phoenix on

Whatever it is, is not normal. Frustrations and discipline issues are, but hers are extreme. Get her evaluated.

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answers from Dallas on

No, she needs some help. She can't possibly be the happiest she can be when she is so frustrated and upset and injuring herself. Even though she is very smart, she needs to be able to integrate herself with her classmates and learn to make friends and be pleasant as well.

She could have sensory issues (like very loud noises, sensitive to touch) that sets her off more than usual. If anything, a good child psychologist can help her and you learn to calm down and relax, and you to learn how to help her be a more calm and happier child.

She needs some really good time out and no nonsense punishment as well as positive reinforcement when she is behaving properly. I also agree with Tammy about this can potentially lead to her harming herself in more ways.

Gifted children can sometimes have a hard time learning to socialize and express their emotions with their peers since they tend to see things differently, so focusing on her talents and encouraging her socially would be good for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Flagstaff on

Tiphanie & Richard,
I am a gifted program coordinator/teacher and also a past teacher of behavior management for kids, along with a series of parenting education courses. I agree 100% with your doctor on this one. It seems to definitely be an attention-getting mechanism that your daughter has developed. But I can also tell you (from personal experience) that it may take more than a month to break her of this.

My own daughter was much as you describe yours. She is extremely gifted (aces the AIMS test every year, etc.) and has always had trouble socially. She also started throwing tantrums around 5, and they occurred more often when she was having additional stress from social pressure. Now she still (age 13) occasionally blows up at us when she doesn't like what is going on.

Recent studies of "normal" kids have shown that the back part of their brain develops faster than the front part. The front part is where the reasoning center is. Their brain development doesn't catch up until they are 25. When you factor in the fact that your daughter is "gifted" you get a child whose knowledge is growing much faster than her ability to reason and analyze that knowledge. This is why they throw tantrums, and they are far more common for gifted children. Also, the social pressures for gifted girls are very different than for boys. A good read is "Gifted Girls, Gifted Women." You will be surprised how much of your daughter you recognize when you read it.

My daughter had problems making friends until we finally found a gifted program that worked well for her, and she found others in the same boat who thought on a higher level than their peers. It was not until she was able to make some real friends that the tantrums/anger seemed to slow.

I would follow your doctor's advice, and completely ignore the tantrums if possible. It will be extremely difficult since she is NOISY and you are worried that she will hurt herself, but it will be for the best in the long run. Also, she is old enough to have a talk with when she is calm. Let her know that you will not be talking to her when she is acting that way, but that you love her and are willing to talk to her once she has calmed down. Another thing that can help is showing her how to use her "cutie-pie smile" to get what she wants. Let her know that you are much more likely to listen to reason if she is smiling and happy rather than crying and screaming. Lastly, at one point I started a rule in our house that "whining means NO." If my kids whine/cry about something the answer is automatically no. If they calmly discuss something with me, I might say yes. This one rule made all the difference. It only took about 3 weeks to see the positive effects in my childrens' behavior.

Good luck. I hope this long post helps. Remember that what she needs now is your positive reinforcement for all the great things she does as she struggles to improve her behavior.



answers from Grand Rapids on

I know someone whose son is like this and they had struggled to find out what to do he was finally diagnosed with aspergers syndrome . Children with this often have a very high IQ but have social problems. I would look into this and find a doctor that is experienced in it



answers from Portland on

Tantrums are normal enough, but injuring oneself during a tantrum is definitely not. You mention a few things about your daughter that suggest a possible sensory processing disorder. Use this checklist to find out whether this fits her, then get a medical evaluation and follow your doctor's guidance accordingly. (If not this, then a medical evaluation may reveal some other difficulty, perhaps placing her somewhere on the high-functioning autism spectrum, or in need of mental health services.)


My best wishes to both of you, Tiphanie. It's heart-wrenching to watch our little beloveds hurting for any reason.


answers from Phoenix on

Your daughter sounds like my friends little boy. He's now in the 1st grade and was just dignosed as high-functioning autistic. I would have your daughter evaluated as soon as possible. I'm not trying to say that she would be diagnosed the same but the tatrums and social behavior you describe is not normal for a 6 yr old. With proper help and guidance you should both be fine. Good luck and best wishes!!



answers from Dallas on

I can understand your concern and really encourage you to seek out a therapist. I teach first grade and I can tell you that is not typical 6 year old behavior. I also encourage you to get the book and check out the website Love and Logic. It has a lot of helpful information. I really hope things get better. Feel free to write me a message and we can talk more about it. I would write a longer message, but I need to get to school! ;)



answers from Kansas City on

I am going though the same thing with my seven year old daughter. She has been hurting herself since she was six. Everyone tells me she just wants attention, so I just did not give her attention. But now it is getting worst and today after I took her swimming she got upset because she did not get chips from the store, She then tried to place a bag over her head. My friend was with me she was able to take the bag off before she stop breathing. I have really bad dreams about her hurting herself and my husband said the same thing yours has. My daughter is really smart too she is a starght a student. She has a little brother, and maybe that has something to do with it, but this is scaring me and breaking my heart. I am scared one day I will go into her room and she will be cold. I have made her an appointment to see a theropist I really hope this works because I don't know what else to do. Its nice to know I am not the only parent dealing with this.



answers from Phoenix on

It sounds like you need to get her help, that it is not normal behavior for a 6yr old. If you talk to the school that she goes to, they will give you a number, then they will evaluate her, if they think she needs help, they will get it for her, and goign through the school for this is free, you do not have to pay for any of it. Whne my son was not talking in sentences when he was 3 and he would play by himslef alot, so I did that, and he got help, now he is talking away and doing so much better. I wish you good luck.



answers from Albuquerque on

Richard, I understand where you are coming from when you say no one voicing their opinion here is really qualified to say what is wronge with your daughter, however they do all have some experiance that gives them insite into what might be normal or not. They are not trying to dignos your daughter, just saying that this is exterem behavoir and you might want to think about it being caused by several different conditions. The point is that your daughter has a problem, and wheather that is caused by a sensory over load, a medical condition, or behavioral conditioning like spoiling and giving in, you need to do something about it or it will get worse. And there is nothing wronge with getting help, even if it is just to get you and your wife the trianing you need to deal with it properly.
I agree totally that you both need to be on the same paige and working together on this. And even if the behavoir is being caused by a medical condition that does not mean that you give into the tantrums or spoil her to avoid them. No matter what that behavior is not acceptable and should not be rewarded. But with help you can get to the root of the problem and deal with it apporperatly even it is only that she needs a lot of positive reinforcement. Parenting is always hard and difficult for everyone, and we all go through times or situations that are harder than others. Seeking help is not a bad thing. We all need it.



answers from Portland on

My first response would be no this is not normal. I have a 5 1/2 yr old and she throws fits, but never like that. HOWEVER, confession time for me. I had some of those behaviors when I was younger (I am now 33). My mom still tells the story about how I would hit myself in the head with a shoe until I had a large knot on my forehead.

She didn't know what to do, but I was doing it to get her attention. I had 3 brothers and she was a single mom, so she was spread pretty thin.

I can guarantee that I am completely normal now and have no life long effects from it (amazingly)...I graduated from college, have been with my husband for 14 years and have two beautiful children.

I would recommend giving her LOTS of positive reinforcement, some one on one time with mommy and you can certainly mention it to her teachers/doctors to reassure you.



answers from Phoenix on

this is not normal 6 year old behavior....she needs professional help. IT will help all of you:)
Best wishes



answers from Cleveland on

your daughter sounds just like mine, 6 years old, gifted and wiser than we ever believed. Some times i think that she is smarter than me. My daughters behaviors really got out of control when her little sister who is now 18 months, was born. My oldest started school and that made it worse because she can not connect with other kids. Temper tantrums and a little reverting are normal, but physically and violently hurting herself, are not normal. Moms are blessed with the gift to see these things. Trust yourself. I would seek consuling in your area and see if that helps. Also try to look up programs in your area that cater more towards gifted children. My daughter did better once she was able to find other girls like her, that were not years older. Good luck


answers from San Francisco on

I have a grandson who is now 10yrs old. When he was 2 he showed gifted signs. Very, very smart however, he was doing the same as your daughter.
My daughter kept taking him back to the Pediatrician and he would always say the same. He's fine. Well he ended up on medication at the age of 4 of ADD and Asbergers'. That was the only meds that would calm him. My daughter took him off of these meds when he was 7 and he was your normal active little guy. When he turned 10 of course his hormones are changing and he would hurt himself, scream at my daughter. using inappropriate words, he just didn't care. He is still a brilliant child, very smart. Needless to say he is now back on meds again just as the Pediatrician said he would be. Only because of hormonal changes etc. At some point he will go off of them again just not sure at what age. I wouldn't be waiting for a month I would be right back at the Pediatricians' office. My grandson as well was very gifted but definetly not social. Even today he only has maybe 2 friends and not even best friends. He would rather stay by himself. When there are to many ppl. around him he can't handle the environment and starts to act out. Keep pushing your pediatrician don't let this keep happening. As you said your afraid that you will have someone call the Childrens Aide because of her bruises' etc. and it will happen. What is your husband going to say then. I know men are more apt to be in denial since she is probably a daddys' little girl but yes she does need to be reassessed. I don't like to be a bearer of bad news and she may not have what my grandson has but she needs something to learn to control this behavior before she hurts herself or quite possibly your 1yr old and I know that you or your husband wouldnt' want that.
I wish you all the best, pls. don't get all stressed out. Things will work out in the end. Sincerely,



answers from Tucson on

She should probably be evaluated , but first, she's not on any medications is she? I mean, for allergies or anything? Sometimes side effects can be extreme. Our 20 month old daughter turned into a monster after a day of using Nasonex nasal spray. I've read that other drugs have the same effect on children. That's my only suggestion. Best of luck to you & I hope you find someone who can help.



answers from Tucson on

I'm the father of this child. I see all these people saying this isn't normal etc, etc. However, I don't see any real credability at all, how many of these responses are from a pediatrician, therapist or child psychologist? If she did have a real problem this behavior would happen at school and at home nor would she have good grades. Her social grades are also really good as well. She would also have this behavior out in public as well, but that's not the case. I think she does have a problem that needs to be corrected and that problem is that she is really spoiled. I'll admit that I have contributed to this behavior. In 2005, my wife and I split up for a year, my daughter was 2 1/2 at the time. I felt guilty and I would give in to her and never say no to her. Well unfortunately that has begun to bite my in the rear. Even when my daughter would cry for me and call me, I would go over to her house and be with her. She's grown accustom to getting her way and getting everything she wants. Now that we're back together and I'm not giving her everything she wants it's become and has been a real problem. We're making the mistake by aknowledging the behavior and arguing with her about doing something that she doesn't want to do like clean up after playing. We should be flat out ignoring this behavior as our pediatrician has instructed. By arguing with her and aknowledging her behavior she thinks that she can wear us down to get what she wants. The fact that we don't act as a team also is ineffective in her discipline. She doesn't hurt herself very often and I think that's an extreme attention getting behavior to tell us, "you either let me do what I want or I'm going to hurt myself". If we ignore that behavior and not escalate then she will get over it, but we need to ignore it right away. I noticed that she's also become selfish because of giving into her. She gives gifts with the expectation that she will get something back. This selfishness is also evident at school because she will play by herself if no one else wants to do what she wants. She can play with other kids just fine as long as they do what she wants to do. I took her to McDonald's this weekend and she played with 4 other kids just fine, again they were doing something that she wanted to do. We need to focus now on reversing this behavior and help her realize that the world doesn't revolve around her. As Dr. Kevin Leman put it, we need to "pull the rug from under her". Thank you for your concerns and happy parenting! I'm sure this experience is something that we can all learn from to be better parents.



answers from Yuma on

We had the same problem. Globally gifted, sat at the computer all day or read books. She had no life skills, could not make friends and if she did, didn't keep them very long. I noticed, but my wife was in denial and said "but look how smart she is"--"Knowledge is power"...so we done nothing. Now she is 12, still has all the same problems. The tantrums have not stopped, only now they are anger issues that lash out at us. I fear that it is too late to correct, and my wife is still in denial. Get help. Get her into therapy immediately..



answers from Phoenix on

You are right and your husband is wrong. Get her to her doctor immediately to have her evaluated. Do not stop until you are satisfied that she is getting the proper care that she needs. This is not normal behavior, it may not be anything serious, but if you don't do something it will become serious. I wish you and your daughter the best of luck and hope that you find your answers quickly. God Bless you.



answers from Las Cruces on

I agree with you. This is not normal six year old behavior and the faster you can get your daughter help, the better it will be for her and your entire family. Ask her teacher and/or school counselor for their observations of your daughter's behavior and social interactions. They may also have suggestions of therapists who have worked with children with similar issues. Best of luck to all of you...



answers from Flagstaff on

I agree with the other mothers who have responded. You are right, there is something that needs to be dealt with professionally in your daughter. Listen to your instincts. Sometimes dads don't want to admit that their "perfect" child may not be perfect. They think if they ignore the problem it will go away. In this situation this is not going to go away, it will either continue as it is or get worse. You need to seek medical/psychological help as soon as possible. If she is in school the school should help you or at least suggest where you can start. I am sure she is having some degree of this behavior at school as well so they probably already know there is something that needs to be addressed. It is something that needs to be addressed and not ignored. Not only for her physical safety but for her mental wellbeing (and your familys for that matter). I have a 7 year old daughter who is high-functioning mild autistic. She has never had an issue with banging her head or hurting herself, but this is an issue that autistic children do typically have. Also they seem to have a high threshold for pain, which it seems your daughter may have since she almost broke her nose and pulls handfulls of hair out. Also, lack of socialization and communication is a typical trait of autistic children. I don't mean to scare you by this but if your daughter has something going on with her mentally/psychologically whether it be Autism or some other disorder, if you don't recognize it and intervene and begin to treat it effectively she will only have a harder time as she gets older because she will not know how to deal with her anger, frustration, confusion, etc. appropriately. It may be hard to get your husband to understand this but you know there is a problem and if he won't face it then you will have to for the sake of your daughter. Good luck!


answers from Chicago on

I would definitely seek the help of a therapist. Let them tell you if she has a problem or not. I'd rather be safe than sorry. Her behavior sounds like she's trying to get your attention, and if it has gotten your attention in the past, it might just be that she has been trying that much harder. How do you usually react when she does these things? If she were just starting, I would suggest ignoring her and walking away so as not to reinforce her behaviors by giving her the attention she wants, however, it sounds WAY beyond that point now, and she's in danger of injuring herself. Get her help. I would talk to her school and see if there is someone there she could talk to. If not, get a referral from your doctor or a friend and get her help. This will only get worse. This could lead to cutting and other dangerous behaviors as she gets older. Something is going on for her, and she is asking for help in a dangerous way.




answers from Boston on

My SIL's son, an only child, is off the charts gifted. Although I don't recall him ever hurting himself, he does have a variety of other issues, including sensory integration, mild Tourette's and dysgraphia (inability to to write by hand).

She's a former Kindergarten teacher, and she devoted herself to being his advocate. He was heavily involved in Boy Scouts w/ both parents... Basically, they worked very hard with him. Today, he's a computer whiz, has a nice group of friends (other computer whizzes) and doing very well as a freshman at a noted university.

I hope this helps you see that this doesn't have to be a lifetime behavior and that resolution and success are possible with a lot of effort and the help of medications.

Hang in there. You're on your way to better days.



answers from Phoenix on

I agree with you, this is not normal and if she is hurting herself that bad something is definately wrong. My daughter was a cutter and she started at age 7. Please look into councilling for her before it is too late. My daughters father was also in denial until one day he came to pick her up and witnessed what I went through with her several times a day. She is hurting and if you don't find her reason why it will get worse. Good luck and please seek out some help before its too late. You are an extremely good mother for seeing this and not turning away but looking for answers. My prayers are with you and your family.

B. J



answers from Washington DC on

I would also agree with lots of loving attention and also talking to a specialist. Maybe a school therapist. My son is three and we just recently had a baby and moved to a different state and he has been acting out and hitting his head with his hands when he gets mad. Now that everything has calmed down he is still throwing his fits but the SIB (self inflicted behavior) has stopped. I used to work in a group home where we dealt with a lot of people who did SIB and we were always told to just redirect them and make them safe. I wish you the best of luck.

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