It can be distressing to see your angry toddler hurting themselves, and it is important you tackle the situation head on before it gets out of control. 

 

If your little one has been hurting themselves, the following information will be vital to helping them stop:

 

1. What are common self-harming behaviours:

  • Biting
  • Hitting
  • Scratching
  • Pinching
  • Picking their skin
  • Hair-pulling

 

2. Why they are hurting themselves:

 

  • They are attention-seeking

They may feel like you aren’t giving them the attention they want and a tantrum can manifest itself into biting or pinching.

  • They are feeling stressed

When your child can’t deal with certain situations they can become quite stressed, sometimes manifesting itself into self-harming.

  • They don’t know how to control their anger

When your little one is young they will struggle to control and understand their emotions, and only time will be able to help this.

 

3. How you can stop it:

 

  • Help them to express their anger

Many toddlers hurt themselves because they are struggling to convey their feelings in an appropriate manner, and it is up to you, as their parent, to help them with this. Wait until a time when they aren’t angry, and talk to them about what they should do when they are feeling upset: hug a teddy, stamp their feet or close their eyes and breathe.

  • Interrupt it

When you see your child hurting themselves, get down to their level, cuddle them and tell them that you don’t like seeing them do this themselves because you love them.  

  • Stay calm

Don’t let your emotions get the better of you as it will have a ripple effect on your toddler. Instead stay calm, talk to them softly and remove yourself from the situation if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed.

 

4. When to call the doctor

While isolated incidents are not cause for concern, if your little one is constantly self-harming then you should make an appointment with your GP, who may refer you to a child psychologist. 

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