Q: My two-year-old son bangs his head when he has a tantrum. I can’t stop him and I am worried that he will hurt himself.
A: Headbanging is an unnerving habit, but it is usually harmless. It occurs three to four times more often with boys than girls, and about 20 percent of healthy children are headbangers for a time.
It often stems from an intense need for stimulation. However, children who are overwhelmed by stimuli may use it as a way to soothe themselves. And some kids use the rhythmic motion to prepare for sleep. However, in this case, your son has likely learned that this is a great way to get your attention. The more attention he gets for banging his head, the more he will continue doing it.
Try to identify the situations in which he’s likely to have tantrums so that you can try to prevent them. However, once he’s into a full-blown temper tantrum, just keep an eye on him — but don’t overreact. He is going to be just fine.