7 year old hits herself and pulls her hair

by Cyndi
(Wood Dale, IL)

My 7 year old is a typical oldest child. Everything needs to be PERFECT. I always thought is was strange that since she was an infant she cannot stand to have tags on her clothes or her socks to be uneven at the seem at all.

She is an extraordinary student. Loves school. Is in first grade but teachers say she's at a 5th grade level.

Anytime she makes a mistake on school work or gets in trouble for some dumb thing she hits her face or pulls her hair. She told me yesterday that anytime she THINKS she's going to be in trouble at school she does this at school. She says it's the only thing that makes her feel comfortable and she does it when no one is looking.

A good friend recommended looking into it being a sensory issue. I'm just amazed that she would feel better by hurting herself. Any advice, thoughts?

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Nov 13, 2011
by: Anonymous

I have a gifted 11 yr old son with spd and we've gone through stages where he hits or severely pinches himself as punishment over the last 5 years. Similarly, he is a perfectionist and his perceived infraction is usually very minor. I strongly believe it's related to both his perfectionism and sensory needs. We've gone the route that I taught as a Project Charlie educator that it is okay to be angry or upset or disappointed; but the three rules of emotion are that it is never okay to hurt yourself, others or property. We gave him one of those funny punching bags that bounce back to express his feelings on.

At school alternatives, we've had him kick balls at recess or had his teacher assign heavy lifting assignments to him when they notice he is unusually frustrated with himself. I think it's obvious in these instances that their emotions are overwhelming them and giving them different - healthier ways to express it is very important. It's okay to have the emotions - but learning to handle/release them is hard for kids and where parents really need to step in. It's great that you're in tune with your child and aware of her emotional needs.

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