Headbangers and Humpers

The text below is written by two of our blog writers who wanted to remain anonymous on this post.  We wanted to do all we can to protect our children and their future (digital) reputations.

Mom 1

We had a new babysitter here the other day.

Mom 2

How’d that go?

Mom 1

Well I always find it hard to trust new people with my kids anyway, but it’s extra challenging because of my little headbanger!

Mom 2

Ha, that made me laugh because I know exactly what you’re saying because I’ve had to tell our babysitter about our little humper! What did you tell the babysitter?

Mom 1

Just the usual: here are the pj’s, here are the toothbrushes. After you read a story and say goodnight you can close the door. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a strange noise coming from his bedroom. He has a special way of soothing himself to sleep. He curls up on his tummy and pounds his head on his headboard or his hands. And did I mention he sort of hums as he’s doing this? It sounds a little loud especially through the baby monitor, but he’ll stop after a few minutes.

Mom 2

How did he respond??

Mom 1

Thankfully he was gracious. He just said, OK. Like what I had said was totally normal!

Mom 2

That is funny because that is exactly what happened when I explained the situation with mine. I was a little embarrassed to address it and wasn’t sure how she would react but when I said – so sometimes in order to soothe herself to sleep, she lays on her tummy and rubs back and forth. My babysitter just shrugged it off like what I said was completely normal too.

Mom 1

It was nice that it wasn’t a big deal to him. I am always so concerned that this behavior is shocking or will at least make the sitter look at me funny. Not that this sitter might not have been thinking in his head what I fear–that something is wrong with my child–but at least he didn’t say anything.

Mom 2

YES. I totally know what you mean and have felt the exact same way!

Mom 1

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t as shocking as I fear?

Mom 2

For sure. It has honestly got me thinking about the whole thing and wondering to myself – why does this bother me so much?

Mom 1

Maybe it’s just because we want our kids to be “normal.”

Mom 2

I know that is a huge part of it. And at least for me a lot of times I look at our challenges and think about the future and wonder how this will affect them (or me). And I just want to protect them from any hurt down the road.

Mom 1

Exactly. That desire raises up all sorts of other questions in my mind. Like will he grow out of this? Do I “help” him grow out of it? Do I teach him a more “appropriate” way to soothe himself to sleep? Will that actually make him feel ashamed or bad about his current behavior?

Mom 2

Oh man, I’m so glad to know you’re thinking all of the same things I am too! I actually talked to the doctor about it because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, but he reassured me that all kids have different soothing habits and this was no different. Basically I walked away from the conversation reminding myself to not worry so much about it and approach it for what it is — not what I fear it could be in the future through my adult lens.

Mom 1

So hard to remove our “lens”! We have been to an OT about it because when he was really little he was hitting his head on the side of the crib and gave himself a bald spot. Then eventually it turned into a cut and then a big scab. So we went to the OT to have him tested for some sensory things. But even the OT assured us that this was entirely normal. Just like thumb sucking.

Mom 2

So interesting the things our kids do to soothe themselves! I will say, I have realized she is just more of a sensory child. She loves to rub soft things and definitely cares how things feel. And I also think she feels loved by physical touch like when we play with her hair and rub her back. The whole thing has opened my eyes to how all kids handle things in different ways.

Mom 1

Yes. It is just another way I see how uniquely we are all created.

Mom 2

You are so right. I’ve started to realize this is another opportunity to teach about differences… especially when I have to explain it all to her older sibling!

Mom 1

We’ve had to address it with siblings too! They share a room after all, so that his been an interesting conversation to say the least.

Mom 2

I bet! I feel like the whole thing has challenged my parenting a little bit and caused me to pray and ask God for wisdom. Because what I don’t want to do is have her feel any bit of shame over the whole thing. It’s more of just a teaching opportunity to discuss how we handle certain situations and stuff like that.

Mom 1

Right, no shame! We just sort-of taught the older sibs to ignore it. That is how we are handling it right now. We don’t draw attention to it because it’s “normal” for him just like thumb sucking was normal for the older one.

Mom 2

Right. We are trying to make it a non-issue…

Mom 1

Well, I think that we made a good choice on that front, at least! Phew! But that doesn’t change some of my deeper “mama” worries about it. What do I do about that?

Mom 2

Totally. I think for me I’ve realized that when I start to feel worried about how she soothes herself, I have had to ask myself – why am I bothered by this? And 9 times out of 10 it is because I am afraid my daughter or I will be judged by others.

Mom 1

Or even worse, that we allow our children to behave in a way that isn’t “right.” That means what I’m worried about is the behavior reflecting poorly on my parenting.

Mom 2

Yes. That is what I am trying to say!

Mom 1

Basically thinking that his headbanging makes me a bad mother.

Mom 2

Right. Why can’t you control your child’s behavior? You’re the mom – can’t you do something about this?

Mom 1

Oh, my! Yes! Can’t I do something about it?! When you put it that way, I see how backwards that thinking is. By and large, we can’t “control” our kids. Nor should we! Guide them, yes. Train them, yes. Control them? Nope! This thinking is something I need to ask God for help to change in me. (Instead of figuring out how to change my kids which might not even be necessary!)

Mom 2

Yes. Why does it seem to always go back to the control thing?! Whether we’re dealing with how our kids soothe themselves or how they treat their friends, I think this is an area God is asking me to dig into a little deeper. To focus less on the actual behavior and more on the heart behind it. Both in her and in me.

Mom 1

What do you know? Sounds like we are on the right track. Taking our fears and worries to God will help us to get His perspective not just on our kids, but on our own hearts. Here’s to letting go of control… again!

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
  • “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.” (Ezekiel 34:11, NIV)

Music to inspire you:

  • “God is in Control” by Twilla Paris (seriously dated video, and you have to love the ‘80’s fashion! But the message of the song is still true!)

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related Posts on Texting The Truth:

Living Out the Truth

Ideas to try:

  • Underneath the ways our kids soothe is the very real need for a child to find comfort in stressful situations. That is why they suck their thumbs, use a pacifier, etc. If your child has a unique soothing habit, it may help you to reach out to a professional who sees this more often in children. Reaching out to specialists helps us tremendously. But bottom line – it is good for your child to find ways to soothe themselves.
  • Here are some of the ways we address “special” but normal issues in our home: 1) We give them guidelines aligned with other behaviors of their kind… You can only suck your thumb in your bed.. you can only bang your head or hump when you are trying to sleep in your own room. 2) We keep things like this private to our family to protect each other from others who don’t understand that this is normal. 3) While it may be normal, we also teach other ways to soothe. Can you rub this soft blanket? Can you ___ ? Replacing the behavior with something else to soothe is a goal of ours as they grow.
  • As far as talking with siblings, it is good to talk about how in the family we can talk about anything, but there are some things that are private to the family.  While we might discuss as a family the behavior of one child because it impacts other family members, we don’t discuss that behavior with friends because it doesn’t impact them.  Our job as a family is to protect one another. Hopefully this type of discussion can empower siblings to be a good brother or sister to each other.

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more.

In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}

 

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