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Behavioral and Emotional Wellness

Is Head Banging Normal?

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When my 20-month-old is sick or upset, he often finds something to bang his head against. This may even be a wall or hardwood floor if I don't catch him in time. Is this a normal behavior?
- Sebastian

Head banging can be upsetting for parents to see. But in most cases, occasional head banging is a form of self-stimulation, self-comfort, or a release for frustration and does not signal another problem.

As a parent, you can help by addressing any underlying causes of emotional upset and protecting your son from injury as much as possible. Try not to make a big deal about the head banging or scold him for this behavior.

While head banging is common and usually nothing to worry about, in some kids it can be part of a developmental problem. Frequent head banging, particularly if there's a question of developmental delay or abnormal social interactions, should be evaluated by a doctor.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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