Monday, November 26, 2007

Our little head banger

(Originally posted on Monday, November 26, 2007 by Tim)

I wish this post was about Dalton?s profound appreciation for heavy metal. Alas, he has started whacking his head into things?intentionally. The behavior started a week or two ago. Whenever he would do it, we would remove him from whatever he was bashing with his head. I?m afraid it became something of a game for him and we were reinforcing the behavior.

To help ourselves out of this mess, we did what any self respecting modern parent would do. We got out all our books on parenting, made a big pile, set a laptop computer on it, and asked Google. Wait, there?s self respect in parenting?

I found an article near the top of the list on a web site run by pediatricians (not the Sears). It had some interesting things to say about Dalty?s new trick. For one, it said that he should outgrow it by 3 or 4 years of age (oh, joy). It also mentioned that he really couldn?t do enough damage to hurt himself, that pain would stop him from hitting his head too hard. This is mildly comforting to a parent. They are probably correct, but the cost of being wrong is pretty high here.

The best thing off the web site was a reference to a 1977 study of intelligence scores between head bangers and non-head bangers. There were 555 infants/toddlers in the study and it was found that head bangers actually had higher intelligence scores. Hurray! It?s a sign a genius! Cathy?s response was, ?just think about how smart those kids would have been if they didn?t bang their heads?. It would just figure that Linus Pauling was a kid who wanted to bang his head but his parents didn?t let him.

After some research, we?ve managed to get the most egregious thumping under control. When he is walloping the wall or the floor we just make a point of completely ignoring him. He usually stops immediately. When he doesn?t, I can always up the stakes by cuddling with Mom. That reliably gets him running over to nurse. You?ve never seen a toddler move so fast to knock Daddy out of the way.

Where we have a problem is with a toy dog affectionately known as ?Doom Puppy?. This toy sings and talks when you press the various appendages. Dalton has taken to pinning Doom Puppy on the floor and banging his head up and down on it. While Cathy and I ignore Dalton when whomping begins to occur, Doom Puppy doesn?t seem to have the same level of finesse. It just keeps singing new songs and saying new words to reinforce the behavior.

Maybe I can get some sort of remote control cut off switch. I?ve got to know someone who could make one of those.

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