Self harming advice needed(13 Posts)
Sorry to use AIBU but just blatantly posting for traffic.
DS's school have just rung to say another pupil has reported a concern about DS self harming. He is 12. This is a bolt out of the blue. I obviously have to talk to him when he gets home. The part of the body they mentioned is not immediately visible which I would imagine is very common.
How should I handle this? Worried sick.
SH is NOT a suicide attempt, or indicator of suicidal thoughts. And whilst it isn't a 'cry for help' it is an external indication of internal turmoil. One of my favourite SH quotes is "How will you know I am hurting, if you cannot see my pain? To wear it on my body tells what words cannot explain." ~C. Blount
So yes, talk to him, but he may not be able to explain why he does it, or how he feels - it can be incredibly hard to articulate feelings, particularly that age. I used to describe it as my stomach being a bubbling cauldron, as though something was about to happen. I know now it was anxiety and apprehension.
A hug goes a really really long way.
Don't ask him why - I never had any answer to that, and it always made things worse. I didn't know why I did it, and I always felt that if I had known why, maybe I could have sorted out the problem and stopped. Seeing it as an addiction helps - some people hurt themselves with food, some with alcohol or cigarettes, and some physically. There's an endorphin release which briefly helps. So, it's a coping strategy, but not a long term useful one. I think approaching it like that helped me - it took the judgement away, and the shame, and instead of stopping a negative behaviour, I focussed on developing positive ones. Found more useful coping strategies.
Hi I've been through this with dd (14). People self harm because of the way they feel due to problems. It is a way of coping. My advice would not be to ask him why he does it. My advice would be to stock up on antibacterial wipes, plasters, clean razors. May sound counterintuitive but self harmers have to want to stop. If you take anything off them then they may do something else/worse. DD is now 5 days clean and is happier, due to us addressing issues that she couldn't cope with. Focus on stopping the issues, not the self harm. Hope your DS is okay x
This may go without saying but if he is self-harming please don't force/pressure him into immediately showing you the marks when he gets home if he isn't comfortable with it. It can make one feel horribly cornered, ashamed and exposed. Like some kind of trapped animal. I can't speak for everyone, but based on my own experiences as a young self-harmer there's this instinct to hide and deny at all costs- it makes things hard to navigate, but demanding to see the 'evidence' can really backfire.
Thanks you all very much for sharing your wisdom and experience. Whilst my instinct is to ask why, can I see the marks I have resisted and he is currently chilling on minecraft which is what he does normally when he gets back from school. Am trying to wait for a natural opportunity rather than marching into his room and saying we need to 'talk'. Next week is half term so no great rush.
Re not asking why - if it turns out he is harming, can I ask him if he can identify the feelngs that make him want to do it or is that as bad? I won't ask 'why' but obviously this is an expression of feelings and to sort it out we need to get into looking at those - not straight away perhaps but at some point. School have said they can get him access to counselling or a mentor which might work - I dont need to know it all, but he will need to open up to someone at some point presumably.
Ugh. Just hoping somehow this is all a misunderstanding or he's made it up to show off or something.
OP here's a forum that's really helped me when I was SHing. It'd has a Family section. buslist.org/phpBB/ Big hugs x x
I think you sound like you have exactly the right approach, to be honest. At the end of the day, you want to be there for him, and that's what he needs. I may have a wee chip on my shoulder about the 'why' thing, as it always seemed asked in a way that made me feel helpless and guilty. Looking at identifying feelings sounds like a really good plan to me. I am sorry you are dealing with this though, it's horrible to see someone you love in pain. Am keeping my fingers crossed that's it's just a misunderstanding or teenage boast!
You also need to discuss with your GP and get some good quality counselling for him. CAMHS will take forever and if you can afford it, I'd suggest private counselling. Relate are now very good with young people. Also look into charities who provide counselling and get on their waiting list.
A quiet, non judgemental hug always helps me. Make sure you have plasters, antibac etc in easy reach, maybe a couple of packs so he can feel that he can take some without you noticing if he wants.
Offer to listen anytime he wants to talk, anytime at all, and maybe see if you can arrange some quiet activities just the two of you next week. Whatever you do, remain calm.
Sending you hugs
DD2 went through a bout of this when she was 14/15. She and her best friend were doing it as a response to stress and they scared themselves and made a pact to both go home and tell. It was her arm. She showed it to me and I gently insisted she also showed DD1, on the basis she might be able to chat to her sister if not to me sometimes. Lots of TLC and a bit of counselling at school and it passed pretty quickly. I did ask to see it from time to time but kept it all very light and easy.
Hope he's ok
Thanks again for sharing your experiences, very useful. Talked it through with DH and we are going to wait for an opportunity to raise it, just 1 of us not both, over half term. He can be a typical moody teenager so it really would seem better for the conversation to develop rather than be forced. We have a long weekend away all together this weekend doing fun stuff as a family and don't want to put him on the defensive or high alert for that.
However, I did see the part of the body the other child referred to briefly when saying good night and couldn't see anything which was a relief. Although I didn't examine in detail! Also this weekend we're all sharing a family room so that will be a chance to see if he behaves differently - usually he is quite the exhibitionist!
Thanks again. Ugh its such a worry and I feel for all of you who are going through this or have gone through this either as a parent or a child.
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