My Teen is Self-harming, What Can I Do?

You’ve just found out that your child has been self-harming. Feelings of upset, confusement and maybe even anger about the situation. It would be a shock to any parent and it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed with an array of such feelings…

You can’t help but wonder how it got to this point. As far as you are concerned they have a good life and there’s nothing they could want for, so none of this makes any sense.   You may have noticed the relationship with your child has changed.  They don’t spend time in your company as they did when they were younger, let alone want to talk with you.  Preferring to lock themselves away in their room, talking to their friends on social media.  It’s part of growing up after all…  Isn’t it?

It’s important to acknowledge that this person who is and always will be your child does not feel like a child. That’s because they’re growing into a young adult.  It’s a time for you to grow, by giving them a little more freedom, so they can safely explore their independence. This can be the hardest part of being a parent and it’s even harder when you discover your beautiful child is choosing to harm themselves.  The best way to get to grips with this is to understand what’s going on for your child.

More Common Than You Would Think.

A quick internet search of current figures and you will find that approximately 13% of young people may have tried to self-harm at some time between the ages of 11-16.  Self-harm can take many different forms such as cutting, burning, scratching and even biting.  Although the number of ways it can manifest are numerous, I’ve found cutting to be the most common.

Amongst the students I see, 1 in 4 of them have self-harmed.  So when you consider that many are too embarrassed to talk openly and honestly.  It’s easy to see that a more realistic figure would be considerably higher than the figure of 13%  which is currently thought to be correct.

The reasons a young person chooses to self-harm can be numerous.  The majority of cases I have come across, predominantly fall into the categories below.  Many issues overlapping one another, adding to the complexity and compounding the psychological distress for the young person.

  • Anger
  • Emotional Numbness
  • Sexual Identity Struggles
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Exam Stress
  • Low Self-Esteem

Alien, as it may sound, it is a fact that some people self harm to combat a feeling of numbness.  Sometimes describing a disjointedness from their bodies, explanations that they cut, in order to “feel”.  The pain or the sight of blood makes them feel alive.

It’s important to understand the difference between self-harm and Suicide.  Not everyone who self-harms is attempting to end their own life.  More commonly, it is a cry for help or a coping strategy to deal with painful emotions.  Either way it should always be taken very seriously

It Can Be Hard to Stop

The action of cutting releases endorphins which are the bodies natural painkiller.  Endorphins also create a euphoric high which is the same high that runners can experience.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that many young people are addicted to cutting “because” of the endorphin rush they experience.   Of course, any perceived positive from the Euphoric High feelings are short lived.  Negativity soon rushes in replacing the “high” they’d only just previously experienced.

A young person that is self-harming, rarely has anyone to talk to about it, often feeling guilt and shame.Hiding their cuts with needlessly long sleeves in case the cuts are seen.  They may not want to talk to you at first, especially if they feel they’re a disappointment to you and this may make you feel as though they are shutting you out. It’s important that you allow them time to process the fact that you now know. Give them time. The best support you can offer your child is to say that you’re always there for them no matter what and that they can speak to you about anything.

It’s Okay to Admit You Haven’t Got all the Answers

It’s okay for you to admit to them that you don’t fully understand why they need to hurt themselves like that, but you accept that there must be a valid reason. As a parent, this may go against the grain, but it is important that you don’t put pressure on your child, because that’ll be the fastest route to them clamming up and not talking to you.  Or worse still, they may promise that they won’t do it again and then feel they failed you when they were unable to stop. 

It’s easy to see how someone can get stuck in a loop of self-harm.  One that spirals downward through the person’s inability to ask for help due to the fear of being judged.  So it really is of the utmost importance that the root of the problem is found and also that parents understand what their child is experiencing in order to better support them and also manage the emotions, you yourself are experiencing.

 

Some of the Dos & Don’ts

This is an issue that can have a huge impact on the entire family..  If you are currently going through this, I would suggest that you make an appointment with your GP where you will find help.  Also, schools can be helpful in situations like this.  And often able to refer your child for counselling.  The important thing being that you aren’t managing this alone.

There are times when children feel too embarrassed to talk to family or friends.  In this instance, you can encourage them to phone Childline, where they will find trained counsellors who they can talk to about the emotions they may be feeling.

Childline is a 24/7 service that can be reached on 0800 1111

If there’s anything in this blog that you relate to and want help with, I have developed a 10-week programme called the “POSITIVE PARENTING A TEEN” Programme. This is a one-to-one programme which is designed to help parents increase their knowledge, skills and confidence.  A programme that empowers parents to better manage and reduce emotional and behavioural issues, that are affecting the home without the need for additional outside support.

To know more of what our programme consists of and how it can help, you can download your free copy of our brochure here.

If you’d like an initial consultation regarding our programme, you can make an appointment using the booking calendar here.

The one hour consultation fee of £147 will be deducted if you invest in our programme

For information on Individual Counselling Sessions click here.

My Teen is Self-harming, What Can I Do?

You’ve just found out that your child has been self-harming. Feelings of upset, confusement and maybe even anger about the situation. It would be a shock to any parent and it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed with an array of such feelings…

You can’t help but wonder how it got to this point. As far as you are concerned they have a good life and there’s nothing they could want for, so none of this makes any sense.   You may have noticed the relationship with your child has changed.  They don’t spend time in your company as they did when they were younger, let alone want to talk with you.  Preferring to lock themselves away in their room, talking to their friends on social media.  It’s part of growing up after all…  Isn’t it?

It’s important to acknowledge that this person who is and always will be your child does not feel like a child. That’s because they’re growing into a young adult.  It’s a time for you to grow, by giving them a little more freedom, so they can safely explore their independence. This can be the hardest part of being a parent and it’s even harder when you discover your beautiful child is choosing to harm themselves.  The best way to get to grips with this is to understand what’s going on for your child.

More Common Than You Would Think.

A quick internet search of current figures and you will find that approximately 13% of young people may have tried to self-harm at some time between the ages of 11-16.  Self-harm can take many different forms such as cutting, burning, scratching and even biting.  Although the number of ways it can manifest are numerous, I’ve found cutting to be the most common.

Amongst the students I see, 1 in 4 of them have self-harmed.  So when you consider that many are too embarrassed to talk openly and honestly.  It’s easy to see that a more realistic figure would be considerably higher than the figure of 13%  which is currently thought to be correct.

The reasons a young person chooses to self-harm can be numerous.  The majority of cases I have come across, predominantly fall into the categories below.  Many issues overlapping one another, adding to the complexity and compounding the psychological distress for the young person.

  • Anger
  • Emotional Numbness
  • Sexual Identity Struggles
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Exam Stress
  • Low Self-Esteem

Alien, as it may sound, it is a fact that some people self harm to combat a feeling of numbness.  Sometimes describing a disjointedness from their bodies, explanations that they cut, in order to “feel”.  The pain or the sight of blood makes them feel alive.

It’s important to understand the difference between self-harm and Suicide.  Not everyone who self-harms is attempting to end their own life.  More commonly, it is a cry for help or a coping strategy to deal with painful emotions.  Either way it should always be taken very seriously

It Can Be Hard to Stop

The action of cutting releases endorphins which are the bodies natural painkiller.  Endorphins also create a euphoric high which is the same high that runners can experience.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that many young people are addicted to cutting “because” of the endorphin rush they experience.   Of course, any perceived positive from the Euphoric High feelings are short lived.  Negativity soon rushes in replacing the “high” they’d only just previously experienced.

A young person that is self-harming, rarely has anyone to talk to about it, often feeling guilt and shame.Hiding their cuts with needlessly long sleeves in case the cuts are seen.  They may not want to talk to you at first, especially if they feel they’re a disappointment to you and this may make you feel as though they are shutting you out. It’s important that you allow them time to process the fact that you now know. Give them time. The best support you can offer your child is to say that you’re always there for them no matter what and that they can speak to you about anything.

It’s Okay to Admit You Haven’t Got all the Answers

It’s okay for you to admit to them that you don’t fully understand why they need to hurt themselves like that, but you accept that there must be a valid reason. As a parent, this may go against the grain, but it is important that you don’t put pressure on your child, because that’ll be the fastest route to them clamming up and not talking to you.  Or worse still, they may promise that they won’t do it again and then feel they failed you when they were unable to stop. 

It’s easy to see how someone can get stuck in a loop of self-harm.  One that spirals downward through the person’s inability to ask for help due to the fear of being judged.  So it really is of the utmost importance that the root of the problem is found and also that parents understand what their child is experiencing in order to better support them and also manage the emotions, you yourself are experiencing.

 

Some of the Dos & Don’ts

This is an issue that can have a huge impact on the entire family..  If you are currently going through this, I would suggest that you make an appointment with your GP where you will find help.  Also, schools can be helpful in situations like this.  And often able to refer your child for counselling.  The important thing being that you aren’t managing this alone.

There are times when children feel too embarrassed to talk to family or friends.  In this instance, you can encourage them to phone Childline, where they will find trained counsellors who they can talk to about the emotions they may be feeling.

Childline is a 24/7 service that can be reached on 0800 1111

If there’s anything in this blog that you relate to and want help with, I have developed a 10-week programme called the “POSITIVE PARENTING A TEEN” Programme. This is a one-to-one programme which is designed to help parents increase their knowledge, skills and confidence.  A programme that empowers parents to better manage and reduce emotional and behavioural issues, that are affecting the home without the need for additional outside support.

To know more of what our programme consists of and how it can help, you can download your free copy of our brochure here.

If you’d like an initial consultation regarding our programme, you can make an appointment using the booking calendar here.

The one hour consultation fee of £147 will be deducted if you invest in our programme

For information on Individual Counselling Sessions click here.