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children hitting themselves


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#1 TimbaLanD

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 06:54 AM

Guys, does anyone in here know anything about why some children hit themselves on the head when they are frustrated? I find this really strange. Can anyone help?
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#2 sabbath

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 07:23 AM

My little cousin does the same. I think some kids hurt themselves to get what they want. When they see that this evokes a positive response from those who nurture them, this becomes a habit we are made to witness via tantrums. Mostly it's in the bringing up i.e. how parents deal with their toddlers wants/behavior. But I've also heard of emotionally disturbed kids exhibiting such behavior. Will look it up to make sure.
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#3 sabbath

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 07:34 AM

it's evidently not a rare phenomenon:

http://www.bloggingb...hit-themselves/

http://www.drspock.c...11,2640,00.html

Dear Dr. Needlman,
Our 18-month-old has a habit of slapping himself in the head when things aren't going his way. He doesn't talk yet so we are passing it off as frustration. Is there anything to be concerned about as far as behavioral problems?
— Palibu


ANSWER
May 23, 2001


Dear Palibu,
Toddlers do all sorts of things to themselves when they're frustrated: they bite the backs of their hands, bang their heads, hit themselves, and throw themselves to the ground. Head slapping falls into this category of normal tantrum behavior and is nothing to worry about.

How best to respond? It's helpful to respond to your child's emotions by using the words that describe what you think he is feeling, for example saying: "you're really angry" or "you're very frustrated." Then tell your son gently, "Please don't hurt yourself--I don't like to see anything hurting you" and perhaps hold him gently, so that he feels contained and protected.

Mainly your attitude is what is important, and it should be calm, supportive, and caring. You are teaching your son lessons that he will remember for life. Whenever he faces frustration in the future, he'll call on the memory of the reassuring way you dealt with his tantrums when he was a toddler, and the memory will help him to stay in control of himself. He'll also call on the memory of your supportive, warm response when he has to deal with other people's upsets; it will make him a more empathetic person.


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Ab honestum virum bonum nihil deterret.

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#4 sabbath

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 07:38 AM

here's another one!

Infants and children are amazingly intelligent. At a very young age, they are often able to manipulate their parents. They discover behaviors that get the attention of their parents. They find ways to get attention and physically pleasing rewards such as being carried, being sung to, and being fed.

When babies cry, the instinctive thing to do is to carry them, talk to them, sing to them, play with them and feed them. Since these are things that babies like, we are rewarding them for crying. Nothing is wrong with this during infancy since we as parents, generally enjoy carrying, talking to, singing to, playing with and feeding our infants.

Sometimes, this crying turns into screaming. The tone of the cry is different. You will begin to recognize that some of the crying is just to manipulate you for attention. This type of tantrum is not difficult to recognize. Children throwing tantrums may throw their heads back or slam their arms down or kick their legs violently. This occurs because they want something and they are not getting it. When most parents encounter this behavior, they will promptly carry their child and give them as much attention as possible to stop the tantrum. Some infants and children have learned that if a conventional tantrum does not result in attention, they have learned other actions that will get them some attention. These include actions such as vomiting, breath-holding and head-banging. There is nothing like gagging, choking and vomiting to get a parent's attention. Amazingly intelligent children understand this.


http://www.hawaii.ed...enting/c07.html
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Ab honestum virum bonum nihil deterret.

I have never learned any wisdom, and I know nothing at all about God. -prov 30:3

#5 TimbaLanD

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 07:49 AM

Thanks for that Sabbath.. It is reassuring to know it’s a common behaviour because I have come across few children who does this and it’s discomforting to see them hurting themselves. It is extremely difficult to discuss this with their parents as it may result in anxiety. Saying that, I also don’t want to sit and ignore the situation either. If it’s normal amongst toddlers, then I am happy to leave it as it is but if it’s a more serious matter I feel the urge to make the parents aware of the situation.
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#6 Genecks

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 11:20 PM

TimbaLanD, what is the representative age group of children you are trying to find information on.
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#7 herpguy

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 12:01 AM

A girl I know, who is 10, hits her head on her locker at school. She does that because she is mad at herself, and I guess that's her way of punishing herself.
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#8 Genecks

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 03:41 AM

I believe a human child would do it to show others that he or she was not thinking correctly. However, depending on the age group, this would be an interesting and yet curious thing to talk about for a young child that has not discovered that the brain allows himself or herself to think.

When a child is self-aware, I believe this hitting on the head would be represented to an audience to show that the child was not thinking at the time. A kind of "please forgive me. duhh. i did something stupid.. why didn't I think about this or that correctly?"

Many have spoken about self-awareness for long periods of time. People question what allows us to notice that the body a person talks and walks with is his or her body. The person can see the body, but is the body really the person's? Some philosophical mumbo-jumbo included.

Descartes discussed body existantialism at a time; I believe this was in Meditation 1:

Let us suppose, then, that we are dreaming, and that all these particulars--namely, the opening of the eyes, the motion of the head, the forth- putting of the hands--are merely illusions; and even that we really possess neither an entire body nor hands such as we see. Nevertheless it must be admitted at least that the objects which appear to us in sleep are, as it were, painted representations which could not have been formed unless in the likeness of realities; and, therefore, that those general objects, at all events, namely, eyes, a head, hands, and an entire body, are not simply imaginary, but really existent. - Rene Descartes

Such things would depend on the represented age group. I can not simply say that an infant does the action for the same reason a six-year-old does.
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#9 TimbaLanD

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 05:57 AM

TimbaLanD, what is the representative age group of children you are trying to find information on.


Genecks, I have seen this behaviour for children between 2 and 3 years of age. They do this when they don’t get what they want. They are both from entirely different families.
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#10 sabbath

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 06:14 AM

Genecks has something there.

TimbaLanD it was explained in the net that though children are most likely to exhibit such behavior the most positive action that the parent can do is to tell his/her child that hurting himself is not good or that it would do the child harm. I think it would be best if as adults (or young adult in my case) we prevent this behavior from children.

I for one (as I learned from my mother) and my twin alice (not her real name) never exhibited such behavior when we were children. Neither did my brother. Some of my friends claimed to be tantrum throwers some weren't. We've actually discussed this quite often. I know of someone though who's really bright and an achiever (he's top of our batch, consistent class honor, etc) and he used to bang his head when he was young.

My point is that just because a child bangs his head doesn't mean there's something wrong with him. Not yet, in my opinion anyway. But as explained children do this as a way of getting what they want. It can be a form of manipulation especially in the case of younger toddlers, say babies and children around 0-5 years of age.

Some older children may exhibit this way into preschool and preteen age because they have been conditioned to do so. If they see that they get what they want when they throw a tantrum and hurt themselves, then the tantrum becomes advantageous for them, hence the specific behavior. Children are smart, even babies. They can manipulate us, especially parents who have a soft side for their children.

But as Genecks said there can also be a different underlying cause especially in an older age group. I think that behavior such as banging the head may also be signs of emotional or mental confusion/disturbance in children. If for example this is their reaction towards failure or disappointment when they commit mistakes, I find this reaction disturbing. I do not find it normal for anyone, even children, to hurt themselves when they fail at something. This is short of self-mutilation.

The best thing to do I think is to tell/teach children from a very young age that banging his/her head is wrong. And if he/she does this to get what he/she wants, the parent/adult must stand firm and refuse to be manipulated.

Another preventive measure is to not let any situation arise in which the child sees it necessary to bang his/her head. That is how my mom raised us. She scheduled our eating time, play time, learning time, everything. We didn't grow hungry and have to wait for our food. There was no need for crying. If we did, it surely was because of something else and she would see to what was bothering us. The basic necessities were provided for. Food was there, toys, play, attention. We knew that crying would not get us anywhere if we wanted something (note the want and not the need). If we wanted something we told her. If we could afford it, she'd buy it for us. If we couldn't she'd explain why not. There were no tantrums, no head-banging.

I can't exactly say I'm a well-balanced person psychologically. But what I know is that I can't blame any of my idiosyncrasies because of my childhood.

To sum it up I say prevent children from banging their head, whether most children do it or not, or even if some people will claim it as normal. It's just not good for their health and it might prevent the development of far more serious psychological disorders.
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Ab honestum virum bonum nihil deterret.

I have never learned any wisdom, and I know nothing at all about God. -prov 30:3

#11 TimbaLanD

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 06:25 AM

Great.. Thanks for all your comments guys. The next time I see this happening, I’ll try and raise a discussion with the parents. I am sure they maybe worried as well.
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#12 TimbaLanD

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 09:52 AM

Just to conclude this thread, the little boy does not hit himself anymore. From what I have observed, he couldn’t get his words out so got frustrated and started hitting his head. Now he can talk properly and does not hit his head anymore.

I conclude the child was frustrated because he couldn’t get his message across (verbally) so he hit himself to show that he was not a happy bunny!! This is my conclusion for this particular child. May not be the case for other children.
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#13 Transdecimal

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 11:23 AM

It's because they don't have the ability to f***ing smash into bits whatever's pissing them off.

All that anger and rage has to go somewhere.
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#14 hayleycomet

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 01:31 AM

Hey there,
The reason the child hits herself and not somebody else when she is frustrated is because at her age, she has already internalised the message that you cannot hit out when you are frustrated. thus she hits in. To solve the problem, look at the function of the behaviour - in this case it seems to be relief from frustration. teach the child new skills for dealing with her frustration to replace the behaviour, for example, kicking a beanbag in her bedroom, making a list of things that are annoying her and giving it to her parents, phoning a friend to share how she's feeling etc. What you are aiming to do is teach the child new skills for dealing with those feelings in a more appropriate way.
Good luck
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#15 EdgarWhitford

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 12:48 PM

hi,


It's because they don't have the ability to f***ing smash into bits whatever's pissing them off.

All that anger and rage has to go somewhere

:doh::doh::doh:
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#16 carolwalenga

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 02:16 PM

your first reply seems to have it
--contact a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in behavior modification
--he or she might send you to a neurologist first to make sure there is not an underlying physical (brain) cause
the habit needs to be stopped
my thoughts are with you
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#17 Imaginer1

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:49 PM

I used to do it myself. Really, it's because they think it will draw attention and have other people help. Either that or they just think it is funny. I cant remember myself.
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#18 Butterfly4

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:49 AM

My 4 yr old step daughter hits herself in the face and yells " I hate myself" when she is in trouble. Her father and I are worried about her and don't understand why she reacts like that. When we ask her about it she justs says because she does. We believe it might have something to do with her home situation. We only have her on the weekends and her mother says that its a normal thing with her. We are at a loss of what to do and would appreciate any advise on why and how to help her. Thank You :-(
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