Kids' unusual behaviour

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Sometimes kids do some very unusual things, such as repeatedly banging their head on the floor or holding their breath. This sort of behaviour can be worrying for parents and it's hard to know what to do for the best.

1. Repeatedly banging their head on a hard surface

It's really frightening when a child bangs their head over and over again but it's fairly common.

Why do they do it?
This sort of behaviour is usually because they're angry or frustrated and they want your attention. They don't have the language to tell you exactly what's wrong.

What can you do?

Try to understand what the child is going through. There are a lot of changes happening for them. They're learning new words, new behaviour and they're just starting out in the world.

Children take their cues from you, they're very good at picking up vibes, so the calmer you are, the calmer they'll be.

Obviously, stop them from banging their head or harming themselves. Stay calm and find out what's making them so upset. 'Are they too hot, hungry or overtired? Don't let them go too far with this sort of behaviour, you have to remain confident and in control.

2. Holding their breath

This is probably something that every child has done at some point. But how can you stop your child from holding their breath?

Why do they do it?
When kids hold their breath it's another way of them trying to get your attention, and it's a sign that they're frustrated and distressed.

What can you do?
Look at what you're doing before they start holding their breath and what they're doing just beforehand? Is there something that triggers them holding their breath?

If they hold their breath because they're unhappy about something you've asked them to do, prepare them beforehand so it's not such a surprise. Instead of saying: 'Right, put your toys away, we've got to go.' Tell them that soon they'll have to put their toys away because they're going to do something else that's just as much fun. That way it won't be such a shock. Plus, you're showing your child that you're confident and in control.

3. Boys wearing girls' clothes

Have you ever caught your little boy raiding your wardrobe? Has he become obsessed with make-up and pretending to be a girl?

Why do they do it?
Dressing up is all part of kids' creative play, they like to explore and pretend, maybe this is all part of a game. Perhaps he's pretending to be like mummy or his favourite nursery teacher?

What can you do?
Don't worry. If you panic or make a big thing of him dressing up in girls' clothing he'll pick up on that and become confused - the best thing to do is relax. It's likely that this is just a phase and it'll pass.

4. Having an imaginary friend

Loads of kids go through a phase of having an imaginary friend, even if they have lots of real friends and siblings to play with.

Why do they do it?
Imaginary friends are wonderful ways for kids to express themselves and it's all perfectly normal. Kids learn through playing, pretending and imagining, it's one of the ways they gain experience, insight and understanding.

What can you do?
Don't be scared of what your child is doing. Creative play is to be encouraged as it develops language skills. A child with an active imagination can write great stories later on and express themselves confidently.

Encourage them and relax. However, if the child is withdrawing too much into themselves then you may have to look at what they are doing and why. Sometimes kids withdraw and create an imaginary friend when they are anxious about something.

Sue Atkins
Good to Know
Good to Know features lots of parenting advice including information on bullying, puberty and much, much more.

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