Head Banging as Normal Behavior

Why Do Normal Kids Bang Thier Heads
Q:
Why Do Normal Kids Bang Thier Heads

Why do normal kids bang their heads?

A:

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Many theories have been put forward to explain this common behavior. Perhaps the rocking and even the head-banging provide a form of pleasure related to the movement. This joy in movement is called our kinesthetic drive. All infants are rocked by their mothers when they are carried about in utero. Later on, they enjoy being held and rocked in parents’ arms. Movement activities continue as kids grow: the pleasure of jump rope, swings, slides, amusement park rides (bumper cars!) and dancing. These activities all engage the vestibular system of the brain. The amount and type of movement that provides pleasure varies from child to child.

Kids who are understimulated (those who are blind, deaf, bored, or lonely) head bang for stimulation. But children who are overstimulated (in an overwhelming environment) find these rhythmic movements soothing.

For some children, head-banging is a way to release tension and prepare for sleep. Some kids head-bang for relief when they are teething or have an ear infection (Primary Pediatric Care, Mosby 1992). Some kids bang their heads out of frustration or anger, as in a temper tantrum. Head-banging is an effective attention-seeking maneuver.
The more reaction children get from parents or other adults, the more likely they are to continue this habit. Generally, healthy children do not head-bang in order to injure themselves.

Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, Liat Simkhay Snyder
Last reviewed: February 06, 2008
Dr. Alan Greene

Article written by

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

 

Comments

  • nana

    I have a 3yr old son that constantly bang his head when he get angry, what can i do to help him stop or prevent head injury?

  • Guest

    This is such a reassuring post to read. The head banging started at 9 months and comes and goes during growth spurts and times of developmental change or teething. The clarifications about pain, consequences, and autism are so helpful. Thank you!