Head banging

Playgroup NSW

Categories: Repetitive and Restrictive Behaviours

Head banging can appear as a result of too much or too little sensory stimulation, but these might not be the only reasons. This behaviour might concern you as a parent or carer, so read this section to learn what you can do to help reduce the number of head banging episodes.

Rajesh hits his forehead against the table and wall. This behaviour is highly distressing for his parents, who are concerned that he will injure himself.

Why does this happen?

There are several reasons why children may engage in head banging. One may be due to sensory processing challenges. When a child receives limited or no sensory input from any of his sensory systems, the child may bang his head to increase stimulation. On the other hand, a child with a hypersensitive nervous system may bang his head to decrease the stimulation to his sensory system.

 A child may also be suffering from some pain, such as an ear infection or headache, and banging his head could be alleviating the pain or distracting him from the pain.

This behaviour can also be a way to express frustration.

What can I do?

  • Use a quiet space with sensory toys to help calm children.

  • Take note of what happens immediately before the head banging begins. This may help identify a trigger to the behaviour, which can then be avoided in the future. Triggers may be physical, social or sensory (e.g., bright light, loud noises, being touched, wearing particular clothing, etc.).

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