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Head Banging

Our baby turns 15 Months old tomorrow. The past couple of weeks, he has started throwing temper tantrums when he is frustrated. When he throws the tantrum, he bends over and bangs his head on the floor. He will even bang his head on the tile floor.  As you can imagine, it is very upsetting to see him do this. My first instinct is to treat this behavior like any other tantrum; just ignore it. However, I am struggling with this one. I would really like to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Head banging is a common concern of parents. Head banging and breath holding represent the extreme of temper tantrums. Your initial instincts are correct, you cannot reward his head banging.

You can either walk out of the room and let him bang or put him in time out until he stops. (note: a toddler time out should be confined i.e. crib, playpen or buckled into a stroller.) With consistency either approach will be successful.

The head banger of head bangers was one of my partners patients. They lived on the second story of an apartment building and chose to reward their son when he banged his head on the floor. They feared the neighbors beneath them would complain. During a visit to our office, my partner convinced the family to let him bang and stop rewarding the behavior.

Less than 24 hours later the police called our office to verify the family’s story. My partner confirmed the plan with the police and encouraged the family to stay the course. Eventually, the head banging ended.


see Temper Tantrums




Written August 2010 by
Dr. Gordon, Windermere Pediatrician






gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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