One of the most common questions amongst parents is: “why do kids hit themselves”, “my child hitting himself in the head”, “my daughter hits herself when upset”, “my son hits herself when upset”
It’s a worrying time for a parent when their toddler uses violence on themselves.
Whether it’s biting or hitting, the parent worries about their child.
They don’t want them to hurt themselves during a moment of anger.
And they worry that hitting themselves might lead to them hurting others around them too.
Why Do Kids Hit Themselves?
A lot of kids act out this way because they are stressed.
Just like adults, they struggle to handle this emotion and can feel overwhelmed.
They don’t know how to tell you how they feel and this results in the build-up of stress.
They then end up hitting themselves as a way to release the stress they are feeling.
It’s worth figuring out the reason for the stress in their life.
It might be that they have started nursery or maybe they have moved out of their cot.
Finding the route of the stress will help to calm their emotions and will stop the hitting from occurring.
Toddlers love to explore the world around them. There are so many fun things to look at and try.
Therefore, when their parents stop them, it can lead to frustration.
They can’t understand why this has happened and things haven’t gone their way.
This frustration can often lead them to have to let off steam.
Therefore, you may find that the child acts out and hits themselves due to this feeling.
The best thing you can do is to explain to them why they can’t do a particular thing.
If it’s dangerous, explain they will hurt themselves. When they become more aware, the frustration will ease and the hitting will stop.
It’s sometimes the case that the child is not feeling well if they begin to hit themselves.
If a toddler is struggling with pain, they might hit themselves to self-soothe, as described in this article from Very Well.
For instance, they could have an ear infection or could be teething.
Therefore, keep a watchful eye to see if any other symptoms develop and take a trip to the doctors if they do continue hitting themselves, particularly if it’s often in the same place such as their head.
Now you’ve understood why do kids hit themselves, let’s explore what you can do to help.
Child hurting himself when upset, What Can I Do?
The best thing you can do when a toddler hits themselves is to tell them not to do that as they will hurt themselves.
Don’t yell at the child as this might result in them hitting themselves again in anger.
When it comes to hitting, a lot of the time your child will stop after a couple of times after they realise they are hurting themselves.
As it says on Hand in Hand parenting, after a few goes the whole novelty wears off.
4. Create a safe environment
Create a safe environment to ensure they can’t hurt themselves if they fall when hitting themselves.
And remember to speak soothingly to your child during the tough situation.
In the majority of causes, your child is going through a developmental phase and it will usually pass.
Be patient with them and try your best to remain calm.
Remember, being Proactive will help you manage your child as they transition through these volatile developmental milestones.
Why Do Babies Hit Themselves In The Head
Sometimes, when your kid keeps hitting their head with their hands its more of an illness rather than frustration.
If all the stress and frustrations are alleviated but your baby keeps at it, consider seeking immediate medical attention.
Unlike adults, kids cannot express their pain from illness, or discomforts that come with health problems like an ear infection.
This leads to hitting the head with their hands to try and relieve the discomfort that comes with ear infections.
Another reason would be attention-seeking.
Yes, kids pay attention and will know when you are not giving them undivided attention.
When the kid hits themselves on the head with their hands and you start paying attention, they will probably keep at it so they can keep the focus on them.
Who can blame them? We all deserve undivided attention, right?
Your kid might also be trying to assert control, especially if they feel frustrated by you.
Hitting the head with their hands is probably a way of telling you that they have control over their body and are hitting the head because they can.
Also, in such cases, the kid could be trying to frustrate you.
Toddler Hits Himself When Told No!
Sometimes, you can try your best to stop your baby from hitting themself but your pleas go unheeded.
Why is that? One reason is that they are trying to explore their world and their bodies.
Your toddler’s inability to voice what they need or want when exploring their surroundings and their bodies can be frustrating.
And when you do not get their ways of communication this frustration leads to a temper tantrum, which then turns to nonstop hitting even when told not to.
If such hitting is consistent, it can easy to handle. You first need to ascertain the trigger for this frustration.
Unless you know what triggers your toddler to persistently hit themselves when told no, you will have little to no success getting them to stop this behavior.
Maybe you said no to something your toddler was doing that was giving them so much happiness.
Or perhaps this happens when they are super tired and sleepy and telling them no is just your way fo telling them to stop crying rather than getting to the bottom of the issue.
The bottom line is that you have pay attention to your toddler, try analyzing this behavior for a few days, and see what triggers these tantrums.
After this, you will have an easier time dealing with the tantrums, even when you say no and they keep it.
Here’s a quick video on Emotion Coaching Children who Hit Themselves & Others: Child Psychology & Parenting Tips
Related: How To Teach A Toddler Not To Hit