My toddler hits himself in the head when he’s upset

What do you do when your child hurts themselves?

What should I do if my child has any of these warning signs?

  1. Openly express your concern, support, and love.
  2. Seek mental health services.
  3. Call S.A.F.E. Alternative’s Self-injury Resource Line: 1-800-DONTCUT(366.8288).
  4. Encourage your child to talk to you, other trusted adults and friends.


What not to do when your toddler hits themselves

Don’t yell or get angry

Don’t yell or get angry

Toddlers react in a better way if you stay calm with them. Yelling at them or getting angry will only worsen the situation, where they might try to harm themselves more.

Even when the situation gets very frustrating, you need to maintain your calm. Remember to breathe in and out, take a moment, take out your ‘patient hat’ and talk to them while recognizing their emotions.

Trust me on this; this can become an excellent example for your kid on how to react in such situations.

Don’t hit them

Hitting them during such a situation is the worst thing you can do. Don’t apply the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Your child will react more negatively if you hit or spank them.

Children are quick learners, and most of all, what they learn at such a young age is from their parents or caregivers. So, if you’re trying to model a positive attitude for your child, hitting them as a solution to the problem will be confusing.

Avoid any type of power struggles with your toddler, which involves force.

Don’t fall under peer pressure

If such an episode takes place in public or in front of your friends and family, do not take any extreme step because you think it’s embarrassing and the spotlight is on you, and people will judge you on how you tackle the situation.

Do not let these feelings of guilt or people’s judgments dictate your choice on how you deal with your child when they are hitting themselves. In such situations, take a step back and reconsider your reaction to your child.

If you respond with harshness when your toddler hits, his hitting behavior will persist

Odd though it may seem, if you come down hard when your toddler hits, you are likely to nail the hitting behavior onto their daily routine, making it more likely to reappear.

When we react with upset to our children, they internalize our upset.

They add our upsets with them to the number of things that frighten them.

Your child will feel driven to try hitting again, because they didn’t understand why you yelled, or hit back, or grabbed their arm hard and dragged them to a seat in the corner.  This happens because your toddler’s mind can’t make sense of your behavior. It scared them, so they return to try it again and again in some effort to make sense of it.

Pretty soon, any time they start feeling alone or scared, their mind will tell them, “Hit. That’s what you do when you feel badly—you hit.”

So the discipline methods many parents consider to be “natural consequences” or “deserved punishments” become part and parcel of a behavior cycle your child falls into more and more, often when they aren’t feeling good.

How do you explain cunning to a child?

Definition of cunning

  1. 1 : dexterous or crafty in the use of special resources (such as skill or knowledge) or in attaining an end a cunning plotter.
  2. 2 : characterized by wiliness and trickery cunning schemes.
  3. 3 : prettily appealing : cute a cunning little kitten.
  4. 4 : displaying keen insight a cunning observation.

Feeling that are repressed don’t go away

I would wager that most of us parents give at least ten strong signals a day that we don’t like our children to show us how they feel. So their fears go underground, where these powerful feelings cause trouble. They eventually surface not in crying or clinging or a full-out screaming response, but in hitting and biting and pushing other children.

Hidden feelings cause trouble. Hitting is just one sign that a child is troubled by his fears. Waking in the night, tantrums, refusing to try new things, thumb-sucking, and generally picky behavior all can be signs that your child has had to swallow their feelings, and that the stored emotions are hard for them to manage.

What Should You Do When Your Toddler Begins to Hit Himself?

As said earlier, kids do this because they are trying to communicate. So, when you punish them, you are telling them to keep their frustrations to themselves, which is not healthy. However, this should not make you ignore the behavior and assume that everything is okay. Note that this can cause injuries if not handled well. So, what should you do?

Parents and caregivers need to fine-tune their parenting skills when handling toddlers with this kind of behavior. They should stop the aggressive behavior gently but with seriousness. When your toddler begins to hit himself, hold his hand firmly but with kindness. When you do this, it sends a strong message that it is wrong to use his hands to hit himself.

You can also help your kid learn to use words instead of hitting himself, especially if he can speak well. Let him get used to expressing himself verbally. Tell him that hitting himself when he is angry is not the best way of expressing needs or feelings.

Mo Mulla

Mo Mulla is a work from home dad who enjoys reading and listening to music, He loves being a dad and husband to a growing family. He also loves writing about his passions and hopes to change the world, 1 blog post at a time!

How To Stop Your Toddler From Hitting Themselves?

The first step in stopping self-injurious behavior in your toddler is to identify the cause. Once you know the cause, it becomes easy to intervene. Here are a few ways to prevent injuries until your toddler learns safer ways of expressing their desires.

  • Toddlers do not have the awareness that hitting their head onto some things could cause injury. So, make sure you create a safe environment around them by moving them away from sharp objects or removing these objects.
  • You can prevent them from hitting themselves by blocking their fists or holding them in your arms and comforting them. The key here is to provide a loving and comforting environment so that they can let go of anger and frustration.
  • Use comforting words and assure them that everything will be fine. If they do not calm down, give them something to hold or squeeze, such as a soft toy.
  • If you notice the hitting and biting is due to teething pain, give them a good-quality teether to bite on.

If your baby resorts to SIB due to toddler aggression or excitement, you need not worry, as this generally resolves once they are a little older.

Make sure you do not shout or punish them for such behavior because it might give them attention and provoke them to do it more often. Instead, ignore their reaction and focus on distracting them by giving them their favorite toy, comforting them, or taking them outdoors for a while.

Your Toddler May Be in Pain

Another explanation for toddlers suddenly hitting themselves, is that they may be in physical pain. For instance, toddlers that hit themselves on the side of the head may have an ear infection.

Meanwhile, babies who are teething may also hit themselves at times to cope with the pain in their gums. Sometimes, hitting can be self-soothing. Be on the lookout for signs your child may be in physical pain.

Pay attention to where they are hitting themselves. Sometimes kids are trying to communicate where it hurts. And, depending on the source of the pain, you may be able to treat your child at home.

If you are uncertain what is causing the pain, however, a trip to your child's pediatrician may be in order.

Is Self-Hitting Among Toddlers a Normal Behavior?

Since self-hitting is part of toddlers communicating their feelings and needs, you are right to call it normal behavior. When toddlers are hungry, tired, stressed, worried, feeling unwell, or want some attention, they become aggressive. Is there a way of passing a message to a parent or caregiver that all is not well? This kind of behavior is quite normal. Because they are powerless, the only thing they can do is to become aggressive to get what they want.

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