Children often hurt themselves and we adults do not fully understand why. These self-aggressions are seen in all ages, in babies, children in kindergarten, kindergarten, school and more frequently adolescents. Why is this happening?
We think it is because he feels bad or something happens to him, but it is not the only underlying motivation. There are three main reasons why a child hits himself.
1. AS A RESULT OF ANGER
It happens to adults too. When we live in a situation that is beyond our control we can feel so much rage and anger that we want to express that frustration by hitting objects, doors or there are even people who also hit themselves.
Children who hit themselves as a result of a tantrum usually do it to get attention. The first time they probably do it as a way to release frustration (just like there are adults). If they see that it makes us angry or that we pay attention to him when he does it, or much worse, we give him what he wants so that he stops doing it, the only thing we will get is that he repeat it in the future as a way for us to give in to your requests. It is a manipulation technique.
If it is out of anger, never give in to their blackmails. Ask yourself: does my child also hit alone or only when the adults are present? Do you hit as a result of a tantrum? Are you watching to see how we act?
It can be distressing but in these cases it is best to ignore it. Children who hit themselves for this reason do not actually hurt themselves. They themselves control their strength and are aware of their aggression because they only do it to see the effect it has on us and that we give in to what they want. The first time this happens, ignore his behavior (unless it is clear that his behavior is really dangerous) and once the tantrum has passed, sit next to him and explain why he should not attack himself, that it will be useless and it will only get hurt.
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS
Here we are entering swampy terrain. Although it is not usual, a child can attack himself as a way to release his emotions. He hits himself to release tension, anxiety, anger because he feels lonely, misunderstood, has low self-esteem (he does not like himself) and can even be a symptom of childhood depression . If in these cases the child finds the stimulation he is looking for, these behaviors can be repeated later and become chronic. They should not be missed.
It is common in children who feel lonely or who do not receive sufficient parental care, love or companionship. It may also be due to a underlying problem that is causing you anxiety. It may even be because the parents are going through a separation, financial problems or school problems.
In these cases you have to give your child more support and attention. Spend time with him, hug him often, and show him more affection so he doesn’t feel alone. If the child is over 6 years old, it is a good idea to teach him to manage his emotions through language , directly or using dolls as mediators. That is, tell him how the doll feels and why it feels like this, for this you will have to exemplify situations so that it knows how.
There are other cases where children feel “guilty” and punish themselves. For example, hitting themselves and saying “I am bad” or “I have behaved badly.” If so, it is important that you explain why he should not do that, that you do not like him to do it and that it is better to treat himself well, that you want him to give you kisses, pampering, etc. For example, if the child breaks a plate, tell him: “You have broken the plate but that does not mean that you are bad. I do not like that you hit you, I like that you give me hugs. Let’s fix it together.”
Other guidelines for children who are feeling guilty or sad:
– Teach him to express himself through artistic activities: drawing, dancing …
– Do relaxation exercises together.
– Enroll him in an after-school activity so he can exercise regularly.
3. NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS
Another possible cause is that the child has a background disorder. Diagnoses such as intellectual disability, cases of autism , psychotic pictures or some metabolic disorders can trigger the child to self-aggravate as a way to release tension because he has not learned to manage his emotions in another way, also because in more serious cases the child becomes strikes as a way to escape from reality. Some research mentions that certain autoaggressions are triggered by imbalances between brain neurotransmitters, by an increase in their release and uptake. These substances can increase the irritability of the little ones. On the other hand, this also encourages the child not to feel pain when he hits himself.
If your son or daughter does not have a diagnosis but you suspect that he or she has a neurological problem, the first thing to do is go to a psychologist to have it evaluated. If you already have a diagnosis made, you have to follow the guidelines that the specialist gives you because they are different depending on the case and the problem you have.
DON’T LET IT PASS
It is important that regardless of what the cause is, you try to control the problem from the root. If you suspect that he is doing it out of tantrums, do not give importance to his behavior and talk to him later, but without showing that you are angry with his behavior. If the aggression is repeated more times, take him to the psychologist because even if he does it to challenge you, you may be facing a possible potential behavior problem , in those cases the sooner the intervention is better so that it does not become chronic.
If you suspect that the reasons are for any of the other two, immediately go to a professional to evaluate the child and can give you specific guidelines for action.