The Edmond Sun

Features

July 3, 2014

LIVING WITH CHILDREN: A ‘Looney’ cure for toddler head-banging

EDMOND — Q:When he throws a tantrum, which happens several times a day, my 20-month-old often gets down on the floor and starts banging his head. Worried that he may hurt himself, I pick him up and comfort him. I know that reinforces head-banging, but I don’t know what else to do. Making matters worse, a school counselor friend of mine tells me that head-banging is something lots of autistic kids do. I’m at a loss.

A:First, your friend needs to stick to doing what she was trained to do. When someone attempts to operate beyond the limits imposed by their training, they generally make a mess of things. For example, a very good school counselor who tries to be a psychologist or medical doctor is likely to spread misinformation and create confusion. In that regard, I am not aware of any list of autism symptoms that includes head banging.  Autism is primarily defined by problems with communication and social interaction. While it’s probably true that some autistic kids bang their heads when they are upset, so do many non-autistic kids.

Likewise, tantrums are one symptom of childhood bipolar disorder, but almost all toddlers throw tantrums and very few later found to be bipolar. Some kids with very low IQs, when they throw tantrums, bang their heads, but some toddlers with normal IQs also engage in head-banging when they’re upset. In other words, one symptom does not make a diagnosis. In and of itself, head-banging is not a symptom of pathology.

Yes, you are reinforcing your son’s head-banging by picking him up and comforting him, but doing so is certainly understandable. The fact, however, is that an otherwise normal toddler head-banger rarely causes himself more than bruising to the forehead, something a little makeup will conceal. During early childhood, the skull is fairly plastic, which is why most toddlers survive this oft-tumultuous developmental phase and grow up to be fully functional non-head-banging adults.

Ignoring your son when he bangs his head is one option, but ignoring a problem behavior can and often does activate the Things Get Worse Before They Get Better Principle. Can you handle it if his head-banging gets temporarily worse? If the answer to that question is no, then you are a completely normal mother. In that case, go to a discount store and buy a colorful throw rug. One printed with Looney Tunes characters would be highly appropriate. Place it on top of an already carpeted area and tell your son that it’s his new, very special head-banging place.

From that point on, whenever he begins to bang his head during a childhood bipolar episode, pick him up, take him to his new and very special head-banging rug, put him gently down and say, “You can bang your head here.” Then walk away. Do this as often as necessary which may be fairly often for a few days. If you’re calm and consistent, and if my experience serves me well, his head banging will soon be a thing of the past. Next comes foot-stomping, which is far less worrisome.

JOHN ROSEMOND is a family psychologist. Learn more about his syndicated column at www.johnrosemond.com.

1
Text Only
Features
  • peach formatted.jpg Hard year for peaches doesn’t dampen summer tradition  

    A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.”
    Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, might beg to differ. Even so, Porter is known for its peaches, and every year thousands of people flood this town of about 600 residents to taste and celebrate the local crop during the three-day Peach Festival.
    Like the aging water tower, Porter’s peach industry isn’t as vibrant as it once was.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Final step to train toddler with baby on way

    Q: Using your advice, I successfully toilet-trained my daughter by age 16 months. It is now three months later and we are still using diapers at naps and nighttime. At her nap, which lasts several hours, she fully soaks her diaper. At night, she is taking off her diaper prior to falling asleep, wetting the bed after she goes to sleep and then crying for us when she wakes up in a pool of pee. Is this a sign that I should begin night training? I'm hesitant to do this because I am 8 months pregnant and don't relish the idea of waking up several times a night to take her to the bathroom and tending to a newborn as well. I would prefer to continue using diapers until she is old enough to get out of bed and take herself to the potty (even a potty in her room). Is this unrealistic? Or should I just deal with the extra night wakings and start taking her to the potty a few times a night now? If not, how do I keep her diaper on at night?

    July 25, 2014

  • Living Smart: How landscaping can deter intruders, pests

    Done right, landscaping can do much more than attract compliments and boost your property value. It can help you repel intruders, both human and natural.
    Landscaping experts who’ve earned high marks from Angie’s List members say overgrown bushes and shrubs are like welcome mats to burglars. Keep plants and trees trimmed. Place thorny but attractive bougainvillea or barberry bushes under windows, sending would-be thieves a sharp message to go elsewhere.

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-26 YARD OF THE WEEK.jpg Ganns earn Yard of the Week honors

    This week’s “Edmond Yard of the Week” winner has been in existence for 44 years at 105 Barbara Drive, but looks fresh and new thanks to longtime residents Betty and Gordon Gann as they fill their garden spaces to overflowing with colors and textures.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Discard the boredom of family game night

    We’re all about families having fun together, and game night is one of the best ways to do that. But playing the same games over and over can get a little stale. So in the interests of injecting a little more fun into your family’s game night, here are some great choices that will keep you and yours engaged and laughing.

    July 25, 2014

  • What’s normal age for voice change?

    Q: When is it normal for a boy’s voice to change? My son is 10, and his voice is getting deeper every day.
    A.: “It’s a very variable process,” says pediatrician Bonnie Miller, associate director of general pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.. “Puberty will begin as early as age 9. Generally with the advent of puberty, the voice box changes.”

    July 25, 2014

  • IMG_2996.JPG Krazy Daze hits downtown Edmond

    Newly transplanted Edmond residents Hannah Brenning, Cheyenne Middle School 8th grader; Jordan Brenning, Cross Timbers 4th grader; and Sydney Brenning, North High School freshman; check out the items in front of Sterling's in downtown Edmond during the Krazy Daze Sale lasting through Saturday. Businesses will open their doors at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Living history presented at metropolitan libraries

    Hear stories of pace setting women in different eras throughout history. Biographies of Wild West trailblazers, The Harvey Girls, WWII assembly line champion-Rosie the Riveter, mail order bride Mary Elizabeth Walker, and Oklahoma society lady Stella Louise Wilson-Johnson will be reenacted by gifted and prolific storyteller Barbara Byrd.
    Stella Louise Wilson-Johnson was the wife of a prominent Guthrie attorney who shares her experiences and adventures during the early days of Oklahoma statehood. Her presentation will be at 7 p.m. Monday, July 28, Edmond Library, 10 S. Boulevard. For more information, visit www.metrolibrary.org

    July 25, 2014

  • Preparing for a fall home garden

    Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.  
    The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.

    July 24, 2014

  • Fall gardening season has arrived

    Even though the temperature is hot and there are still summer vacations on the calendar, it is time to start thinking about planting your fall garden.
    Most Oklahoma gardeners are still reaping the rewards of their spring gardens, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, but it is not too early to plan for fall gardening crops.

    July 23, 2014