Temper Tantrums question

Hi! I am brand new here but am very thankful to have been invited to join. I have a degree in child development (from way back in 95) and have provided in-hone child care for over 20 years but am coming with a question as a grandma. I have a grandson who is turning one on Thursday but was a preemie, born at 30 weeks. He is doing amazing and meeting all milestones. The concern is he has started throwing temper tantrums where he bangs his head on the ground. I know this is not uncommon but it’s scary to watch. My daughter thinks we need to let him throw his tantrums but I think we should redirect him so he stops and doesn’t hurt himself. I would love your suggestions and guidance. He also likes to throw himself backwards, both while being held and when on the floor.

Hi! I joined this community a while ago and it really great, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Im sure that is really scary to watch, I haven’t dealt personally with tantrums that lead to head banging, but I believe I heard that its important to make sure that the child is in a safe place-maybe transfer to a crib or leave a playpen in the living area so you can let him work through the tantrum. I feel like at 12 months its hard to talk through the tantrum as you might be able to with an older child.

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Thank you so much for joining our community! I do agree with @itsmeserena that at just 1 it may be hard to redirect in the tantrum and that making sure he’s in a safe place where he can’t hurt himself is important. Does he seem to respond to any singing or if you give him a lovey or pacifier? Is there anything you have tried that works?

@Drkarenweiss do you have any ideas to share?

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Hi, our daughter head bangs during tantrums too, usually on the hardest thing she can find at the time, typically. She also started about 12 months, she’s 14 months now. If I see it coming and I’m close enough I will put my hand in the way so she can still release that frustration but without hurting herself then will scoop her up for a cuddle and talk through why she is frustrated at a level she understands. I dont know if I’m doing it right but dont know what else to do

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Since it’s a pretty new behavior, we haven’t really tried much. He never liked a pacifier. He does love his fuzzy blankets so maybe we will try putting that under his head and maybe snuggle it up to him. :blush:

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Hi - I’m that mom I’ve been there. I’m also a professional and beg you to consider:

  1. What happens right before the behavior
  2. What happens right after the behavior (offered good things given attention)

I would also let the pediatrician know so there’s a record and reach out to the local early intervention provider if you’re in the states.

For us this behavior turned out to be medically maintained and went away after his adenoids were removed and his sleep quality increased.

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Hi there! Psychologist here. This must be really hard to watch. I would check in with his pediatrician to confirm that there isn’t anything the doctor is concerned about, but head-banging is usually a self-soothing technique that really young kids use, especially those who aren’t able to talk yet. I would try using words to reflect and validate his feeling, but also to communicate that you need to keep him safe: “You’re so mad! It’s OK to feel mad. I can’t let you hurt yourself, though. I need to keep you safe.” And then you can gently get in there and use your hands to prevent him from hurting himself. You might find that big, tight hugs work well here too. @tots-allison has a good idea about a lovey, pacifier or blankie or some other soothing object. I would introduce this not in moments that are stressful, but in moments of calm, so that the attachment is already there when he needs soothing. Kids attach differently to all different things, so give him a couple of options. Hopefully, as he gets older and learns more adaptive self-soothing skills- and to talk!- this will be a thing of the past.

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He usually will do this when he doesn’t get something he wants. He has a two year old brother that doesn’t always like to share his toys. Thank you for the advice. I believe he sees his pediatrician this week and will have my daughter discuss with the doctor. He doesn’t sleep well so that may be affecting him as well.