As a parent do you know what self injury is? It is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue. There are children out there that do it to change a way of feeling. Some groups and cultures see this action a little different. It appears to have become more popular lately especially in teens. Here is a list of some severe self injury: carving, scratching, branding, marking, picking, and pulling skin and hair, burning, cutting, biting, head banging, bruising, hitting, tattooing, and excessive body piercing. One of the reasons teens do this self-mutilate is so they can take risks, reject their parents’ values or just state their individuality or maybe they just want to be accepted. Some teens do it just out of desperation or anger to seek attention, to show their hopelessness and worthlessness or maybe they have suicidal thoughts. Professionals can sometimes be needed to give teens better abuse solutions.
Why do teens self-injure?
This behavior is complex and it comes from many different reasons. Some teens have trouble talking about their feelings so they show their emotional tension, physical discomfort, pain, and low self esteem with self injurious behaviors. What does happen right after they hurt themselves is they feel like the steam in the pressure cooker has been released but others may feel hurt, anger, fear, and hate. Some of this behavior can come from peer pressure. What they don’t look at is even though the fad of cutting yourself comes and goes the scars don’t go away so they may hide their scars, burns and bruises because they are embarrassed, or they feel rejected about their appearance.
What can be done?
Well as a parent you are encouraged to talk with your children and let them know how important it is to respect and value their bodies. You can also set a good example and not engage in body harm yourself. Here is a list of ways to avoid hurting themselves:
Accept reality and find ways to make the present moment more tolerable.
Identify feelings and talk them out rather than acting on them.
Distract themselves from feelings of self-harm like counting to ten waiting 15 minutes, saying “No!” or “STOP!” practicing breathing exercises, journaling, drawing, thinking about positive images, using ice and rubber bands.
Stop, think, and evaluate the pros and cons of self-injury.
Soothe themselves in a positive, non-injurious way.
Practice positive stress management.
Develop better social skills.
Some of the teens may need some help; get them to an inpatient treatment center where they can get some life skills like communication. There are some centers that do have answers when it comes to teens hurting themselves. One way is to learn to be there comfortably and be aware of the surroundings. As a parent you cannot just allow you teen to do this kind of behavior. You owe it to yourself and your teen to get help. They are wanting some attention and maybe they cannot communicate to you what they are feeling.
If you are looking for professional help, contact us.