DD has been cutting - how do we help her?

(44 Posts)
WorriedTeenMum Fri 01-Feb-13 00:00:40

DD(13) came to me this evening and showed me that she has been cutting her legs. Many, many cuts. None of them looked particularly deep but there was just so many of them. DD said it had started this week.

It seems like she has been having problems with a friend who has been bullying her physically and emotionally.

I hugged her and told her that I loved her. We talked then she went and had a bath.

This is new to me. Have I done the right thing? What else should I be doing?

Does anyone have any experience of this please?

Magdalena45 Sat 16-Feb-13 19:46:42

I work with young people and self harm is quite common. They often don't want to tell people because they feel ashamed or because they use it as a coping strategy and worry someone will make them stop (without helping find other coping strategies). A lot of kids also fear adults will think it means they are going to harm themselves further.
You did a great job supporting your daughter. It usually helps if they can talk openly about it, about what lead up to it, how they felt, etc. It must be really upsetting to find out, but it doesn't necessarily mean things are as bad as we might assume!

Magdalena45 Sat 16-Feb-13 19:52:38

Although of course it needs to be taken seriously!

WorriedTeenMum Sat 16-Feb-13 20:56:44

We have chatted several times. She is a very private person since puberty hit so coming to me with something like this took her right out of her comfort zone. She let me see the area she was cutting and it looks to be healing up very well. There was no evidence of fresh cuts which was good. DD had vouchers for a teen spa at Christmas (her request) so she has an impetus to not go back to this.

She has had no contact over the half term with the friend/bully which I think is helpful. The distance helps DD to be less involved with the problems in the friend/bully's life.

DD seems a lot happier. A number of things got on top of her all at once. In many ways she is very sensible and mature but all the problems at once was more than she could handle.

Older DD has been very helpful and has helped me to understand this better.

HeyHoHereWeGo Sun 17-Feb-13 13:01:14

Thats great she seems happier. It sounds like she was just overwhelmed but is feeling better? Have school been any help with the bullying - if its a school based thing?Did you do the doing up her room thing? Was that a good distraction?

HeyHoHereWeGo Sun 17-Feb-13 13:04:02

Oh Cory - thats a good point about Anxiety being a big factor. And dont you think that trend/ peer group/ copy cat element can be relevant for some young people, but its hard to phrase in such a way that doesn't sound dismissive, like you are only doing that because your friends all do it. Do you remember when "Emo" became a thing, and parents were afraid of it as they thought it was young people sitting round listening to miserable music cutting themselves.

cory Sun 17-Feb-13 13:56:24

I think it depends entirely on the situation, HeyHo.

Some young people do it as a copy cat thing- though tbh I'd be surprised if many happy well adjusted people do it merely to be fashionable- others find it out on their own.

When I fantasised about cutting my wrists in my teens, as a response to an unbearably stressful situation, I had no idea that this was something other people did. I remember watching a French film one day and being absolutely amazed that the director knew about it: how could he possibly have got into my head and seen what I kept hidden there?

A little later on, the accepted wisdom was that self harming was all about low self worth- which may well be the case for some young people, but not for others.

In dd's case, her panic response goes way back before she knew about self harming as a group thing; when she was younger she would vomit or bang her head or hyperventilate.

WorriedTeenMum Sun 17-Feb-13 15:18:28

Thank you HeyHo, the bedroom is now in progress. We didnt involve the school re the bullying so far. DD is back at school next week and is using some of the techniques older DD gave her to handle this person - being on the other end of a line of friends, avoiding being caught alone with this person.

It is very difficult at secondary school. DD is in year 8. She doesnt want to create a problem which she will then have to live with until the end of year 11. This makes it so much harder for teenagers. They are in a community which they cant leave.

If the bullying starts again then we will most certainly get in contact with the school.

HeyHoHereWeGo Sun 17-Feb-13 22:28:17

Is she being bullied on-line as well do you think? Could your elder daughter ask her about that?

WorriedTeenMum Sun 17-Feb-13 22:44:53

I have asked about that and dont think so. DD only got a Facebook account recently but doesnt seem to be really that into it. There doesnt seem to be any problem with it. Older DD has given younger DD advice about Facebook generally which has been taken on board.

HeyHoHereWeGo Mon 18-Feb-13 11:38:05

Thats good. Imagine a world without bullying, wouldn't that be something! All the best for your daughter.

WorriedTeenMum Mon 18-Feb-13 20:04:05

Many thanks HeyHo. We have been 'lucky' that we have older DD around who has experienced friends going through this. Of course not lucky for the people who actually go through this themselves.

74claire Wed 20-Feb-13 17:24:24

I haven't been online for a long time and looked in to raise the same query. I discovered that my recently fifteen year old daughter has been cutting, because I saw it.

Turns out she has been having counselling at school and nobody has told me about that. I feel marginalised and powerless.

flossfour Wed 20-Feb-13 17:41:20

I had this nightmare a few years back with my DD. I spent years taking all sorts of abuse from her and this was just one of the 'phases' she seemed to go through.

Counselling helped. Not patronizing her or making false promises - being truthful, even if it wasn't what she wanted to hear, and not being judgmental (which you already sound like you are doing) all also played a part.

The thing that absolutely stopped her in her tracks though, was the fact that I knew a woman who had done this in her teen years to such an extent, DD had always assumed she had been in a car crash. Once I explained how the scars got there, she stopped immediately, not wanting to end up like that.

What I can tell you is that there were times I honestly felt I could not go on with her behaviour as it was but I persevered and today? I have the most beautiful, loving and hardworking DD and we have an extremely close relationship.

I wish you both the best of luck.

HeyHoHereWeGo Thu 21-Feb-13 20:02:23

Oh my gosh claire, thats so shocking to me! That you, a key player, THE key player, to be excluded. Have you saught a meeting with your school? Though I think that is within guidelines for schools in England it just sounds so wrong. Have you started your own thread? The very best of luck.

girliefriend Thu 21-Feb-13 20:16:41

I went through a phase when I was a teenager where when I got stressed I would pinch myself a lot, at times my arms would be covered in bruises sad

I did this because of anxiety, it gave me a release of sorts and helped momentarily focus my mind. I had some counselling and supportive family and eventually got my head together.

However even now when I find myself in a situation where I feel anxious I get the urge to pinch myself.

74claire Sat 23-Feb-13 13:27:42

I just got back online, thanks. I have started a thread, but no replies. Glad it isn't a popularity contest.

cory Sat 23-Feb-13 15:15:30

I can understand how upset and hurt you must be over your dd, 74claire.

But I don't quite agree with HeyHo's description of you as the key player either.

My dd has been having counselling over a long period now and I have come to realise that seeing myself as a key player doesn't really help her healing. Unless she can engage directly with the professionals, without me stepping in to negotiate, no good will come of it. That may mean just me sitting quietly in a corner, or more often not being present at all; it may or may not mean she tells me what the meeting has been all about.

To be fair to the school, they have no idea if you are the cause of the problem, the solution to the problem, nothing to do with the problem or a minor factor in exacerbating the problem. But they have to offer support to your dd in any of those cases.

And if your dd is not prepared to tell you about her problems, then it is vital that she still gets support.

After all, unless she can learn to take responsibility for her problems, she won't be very safe despite your best efforts.

funnymummy9 Mon 25-Feb-13 17:57:43

Gosh, you're lucky she came to you so early.

I self-harm (I'm 16 yo, this isn't my account) I haven't told my mum, my dad found out after he read some text messages between me and a friend, and he freaked out and told me that I was disgusting and how he couldn't bare to look at me. So, I told him I'd stopped but I haven't.

I wished my Dad had hugged me and told me how much he loved me, which would have helped more but instead he overreacted. And we've never spoken about it again. Try suggesting to her to speak to a teacher or counsellor at her school, these people are trained on dealing with these things and it'll help her feel better. And just ask her occasionally how she's feeling. Let her know you're keeping a closer eye on her from now on. Don't come right out with it though, make it subtle instead of just going 'HEY! I'm gonna be keeping an extra close eye on you now'

My mum and dad divorced and my mum doesn't know. It all happened because life at home became completely unbearable but it's getting better now :-).

But your daughter starting cutting doesn't have to be a disaster, she can stop before it's too late.

Hope I helped x

WorriedTeenMum Fri 08-Mar-13 07:13:57

I wanted to come back on this.

First of all thank you to everyone who posted. Reading the messages of experience and support really did help.

DD is a lot more settled. Significantly I have noticed that she is wearing a dressing gown now so that her legs are visible (she was cutting her legs). I think that this indicates that she is healing.

This weekend we are going to book a spa day for her (part of her Christmas present).

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