HEAD BANGING: IS MY CHILD NORMAL? DR YATIN BHOLE, PEDIATRICIAN
In day to day pediatric practice we see many babies and parents. Commonly new parents or first time parents are concerned about their children. There are many habits in children that that make them to think there is some abnormality. As they think it abnormal they try to reach out solutions, it’s quite normal to do so. Many children show this behavior of head banging.
When we think and see logically it seems a quiet injurious activity making parents very anxious. Around 20 percent of children show this head banging activity for various reasons. Particularly children below 3 year age show this activity very frequently.
Why and how serious the head banging can be let’s discuss in detail here. Let’s try to solve some commonly asked queries.
What is head banging?
Head banging is a habit or an attention seeking behavior.
Child particularly an infant or toddler below 3 year old bangs head repetitively on a hard or soft surface for various reasons.
It looks abnormal and makes parents or guardians think that it is dangerous and may hurt the child.
Parents are then ready to do whatever it takes to stop a child doing so.
This process leads to children demanding whatever he needs getting fulfilled by parents.
Why head banging?
Essentially every activity has a reason behind so does head banging.
It is a way of communication.
As we know toddlers and infants can’t speak effectively to show their emotions neither they have got adequate maturity to hide their emotions.
So as they are deficient in language but they too need to communicate their feelings with loved ones in a way they can.
They heavily rely on behaviors like crying and laughing and some other behaviors like head banging.
To show their anger, frustration and need of attention towards them they learn some behaviors and try to repeat them when needed.
What condition makes a child show head banging?
When children feel lonely and bored they may find the way to comfort themselves with different behaviors like thumb sucking and head banging. These are generally harmless and the children generally outgrow these habits without any long term consequences.
Some babies comfort themselves with these habits as they need to before sleep. When they feel comfortable they tend to sleep after sometime.
3. Attention seeking behavior:
This issue is far common. When a child needs something and he/she thinks it won’t be given to him/her bangs the head so that parents or caregiver need to know how intensely he/she needs it.
Children as discussed earlier show their emotions with these habits.
5. Medical conditions:
Normal children usually outgrow these habits with age. But some conditions like autism may persistently continue it. More likely to get injured in doing so.
6. Ear infection:
It has been found that children with ear infection show head banging behavior repeatedly.
7. Serious infections:
Some serious infections like meningitis causing severe headache and mental changes can cause children showing this behavior.
Most common of all is attention seeking behavior.
What are you supposed to do for head banging?
You need to visit your pediatric doctor or a child guidance clinic if required.
Pediatricians may refer you to a child guidance clinic if required.
You may need to do some investigations as suggested by a pediatrician depending on his assessment of your child’s overall health and developmental assessment.
Most of the time no investigations are needed in these cases.
If your child doesn’t have any other abnormality the pediatrician will suggest ways to handle these episodes and how to alleviate this problem.
What is treatment for head banging?
The treatment depends on cause.
If there are any causes suggested above they need to be treated like ear infection or intracranial infections.
Most effective therapy for a normal child with head banding is Not paying attention.
Yes it may seem incorrect but not paying attention is treatment of attention seeking behavior.
Most of the time head banging is harmless and causes very minor injuries if at all.
Just taking care of a child does not injure him/herself during the episode but not satisfying the demand for which it is crying and banging its head.
Make him or her understand that this is not the way to behave after the temper tantrum is over.
The day she doesn’t show this behavior give your child some gift like some short trip or whatever she/he likes to eat.
Don’t use punishment but make use of reward maximum times.
But don’t give the things immediately for which he/she shows This behavior.
Let the child know he/she can’t get the benefit of head banging.
With knowing this they tend to give up the habit of head banging.
If not done properly the attention seeking behavior keeps on increasing with age and becomes a major cause of non acceptable behaviors in communities labeled as criminal activities when a child grows older.