Self-harm means that your child hurts her body on purpose. It often leaves marks or causes damage. It may also be called self-injury, self-mutilation, and self-abuse. Self-harm is a way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings, but the sense of relief your child may get does not last long.
If your child self-harms, she may be at a higher risk for suicide due to the danger of certain self-harm behaviors.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. Possible causes include:
Self-harming can happen at any age, but it is most common in teens and young adults.
Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child.
Therapy may help.
Medicine may be prescribed if your child also has problems with anxiety, panic, depression, or obsessive thoughts.
Trying to stop the behavior may be very stressful. Journaling, art therapy, relaxation techniques, and physical exercise may be useful to replace self-harm behaviors.
If your child is a danger to herself, she may need to be treated in the hospital. Your child may also need to be in a day or evening treatment program for several months to learn how to manage emotions in a safe way.
Develop trust by not judging your child. Quietly listen to what your child tells you and try to understand what she is feeling. Repeat back what you are hearing her say to you. Tell her that what she is feeling is understandable. Tell your child you want to help and support her.
Getting your child to stop self-harming without helping her find something to replace the behavior may be very stressful. Help her find something else to do when she feels the need to self-harm, such as journaling, art therapy, relaxation techniques, physical exercise, or talking to you, other family members, or friends.
Other things that may help include:
If your child threatens to commit suicide, take it seriously. Seek help immediately.
For more information, contact: