Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Behaviour

My 14-month-old son loves to be very noisy.

My 14-month-old son constantly bangs everything together. I try to keep items, such as spoons, out of reach, but he will use anything he finds. He will hammer on tables, doors and even the TV screen. I have tried buying him a toy drum, but he is not interested; I don’t think it makes enough noise. I am at my wits end. How can I stop this behaviour?

Making noise is very typical at this age, especially if it gets a reaction from you. It is hard to ignore banging, particularly during a family meal or while you are on the phone, and your son has discovered this.

It is important to immediately discourage him from dangerous banging. Banging on the TV, glass topped tables or china plates should not be allowed under any circumstances. Tell him in a firm but calm voice that we don’t bang on glass. Try not to shout over the banging, as this just sends the message that making a lot of noise is acceptable. Becoming annoyed, even though you may feel it, will just intensify his behaviour, so try to stay in control and calmly repeat the message as often as required. If appropriate, you might remove him from the scene and try to distract him with something else. You will then have to remain watchful and try to catch him before he starts again.

There should be times when you allow him to bang, but on your terms. Put on some music and get out his toy drum. Use songs with plenty of rhythm and encourage him to stamp his feet and clap. Find songs you both like and have a jamming session together. This is a great idea on a wet afternoon with a boy who has excess energy.

There are also toys that can be used for banging. One is a small wooden bench with pegs to bang from one side to the other. Another is a box with four holes into which are banged wooden balls; the balls run out a hole at the bottom and the action can be repeated. Both toys are simple, but they offer a better and safer alternative to striking the TV screen with a wooden brick.