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Daughter is self harming. Help.(20 Posts)
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My daughter is in her early teens and has self harmed a few times by cutting her arms. I've asked school for support and they've suggested some apps for her to download etc. I plan on taking her to the GP to ask for practical support. We've talked it through and she's ok with this. She wants help.
I've read up on this and am careful not to ask why she's doing it and I've not taken the thing she's using to cut herself with from her as the cuts seem superficial and I don't want her to use something sharper and really hurt herself. She's got access to antiseptic cream and plasters but I haven't given her them, she just knows where they are.
I might sound calm but I'm really not. I'm worried sick but trying not to let it show. Can anyone offer me any advice on this. How best to handle it? I know why she's doing it and it's not something I want to go into other than to say her dad and I split up and she's finding it really hard.
Honestly, there isn't much you can do other than the things you're already doing. I self harmed for years. Some people find drawing on their arm with a red pen helps, others find snapping an elastic band or bobble against their wrist helps. It depends on what she finds relieving about it. (pain, blood, control etc) Be available for her to talk, and ask if you can do anything to help, but try not to push too hard.
Hi. Its so so common, sadly. I posted this on another thread.
I’ve been on this site
My tactic is going to be to be calm, kind, to listen and to ensure her wounds don’t get infected as this would be a bad thing and as advised by my friend, who has experience of this. Unconditional love and lots of reassurance that it’ll be ok and she’s also seeing a counsellor once a week. It’s tough isn’t it?
A few things I learned:
It’s generally not linked to suicide, it’s used as a release for emotions that are difficult
It’s probably not your fault! So don’t necessarily change what you’re doing (took me several weeks to work this out)
Counselling helps. We paid and dd saw someone quickly
She’s talking to you which is brilliant, well done
My dd still does this sometimes but much much less.
It’s very hard as a parent. Good luck.
Definitely stay calm! Being calm and listening will definitely help. Counselling at first made me worst but in time it did get better. Its definitely not your fault as PP said, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Make sure she knows signs of infected wounds (I used to self harm) and what to do just in case.
And remember, this too shall pass
My DD started this towards the end of year 7. We went to the GP, who referred to CAMHS, but their waiting list in our area was about 6-8 months. We saw someone privately as soon as possible and it really helped. The counsellor also suggested the rubber band on wrist method, and DD used this for a while. I think DD stopped using knives soon after starting to see the counsellor, and she continued to have regular sessions for a little while. The CAMHS appointments when they eventually happened were also good. Good look with your daughter.
@waterandlemonjuice yes it's really tough. Thanks for the advice
@Wotsitsarecheesy thank you. Any advice on how to find a good private counsellor?
I did when I was young. Search for coucellors online and let her choose one. Cant remember the site I used to find mine but its just a list of all the counsellors in your area.
Dont tell people, it's not your business to share, I hated that my stepdad and mum told all their friends and it just meant I didn't tell them anything anymore because I couldn't trust them. Did irreparable damage to our relationship.
I self harmed from age 13 to 22. Started small with a compass out of my maths set and eventually managed to get hold of my dad’s loose razor blades. My mum was quite judgement in general and it was very hard to talk to her. I used it as a coping tool. At 22 I was diagnosed with a personality disorder. I would recommend therapy if she’ll engage with it. And lots and lots of love. Although my mum loved me she invalidated all my feelings and made me feel very stupid and I always remember her telling me I wasn’t the kind of daughter she wanted. I also felt very out of place as a teen and struggled fitting it. If she feels the urge could you put some distraction in place? Exercise, cooking, colouring, fiddling with something, hitting a pillow with something, TV. Anything until the urge passes. Maybe both of you could take up something like cross fit.
You sound like a lovely caring mum and it’s brilliant your daughter has you to talk to. I wish I’d had that when I was young.
I used to do it as well when I was younger.
My parents were divorcing for the second time and I just didn't know how to cope. It wasn't a suicidal thing, I never wanted to die but I just wanted the pain I was feeling inside to stop and when I cut myself that would distract me from the pain.
My parents never got me help and eventually in my 20's I got myself help and a counselor which really helped and I haven't cut since.
Listen to your daughter, it's great that she wants help. I found talking to people who have been through similar experiences a great help as well.
I did this when I was 15, along with an attempted overdose.
My parents didn't understand (this was in the 1980's) and I didn't receive any help. I feel tremendous guilt at having putting them through it, we never, ever speak of it. I dealt with it myself, however now I suffer with crippling anxiety and I still have scars on my arms which I am very self conscious about, even though they've faded, as they're still visible.
You sound like a fab mum. Sounds like you're doing all you can to support your daughter. The most important thing is that she wants help which is good.
Stay strong, you will get through it 💐
@Nottherealslimshady I certainly won't be telling anyone. Its not mine to share and her trusting me is more important than me telling anyone.
Welldoing.org is great for finding a counsellor
My dd was ashamed of herself so I did a lot of reassuring her that she shouldn’t be. Wishing you the best of luck.
The online link above to Harmless is good 👍
I would suggest asking her why she does it
e.g. What are the triggers ?
What are her thoughts / feelings at that time ?
Find out the function of the self
In a collaborative supportive way
If you have a shared understanding of the behaviour, she can work on finding alternative ways to manage experiences /
Difficult thoughts / feelings etc ...
Find out how she feels after self harm.
Of its relieving / rewarding it generally only feels
That way for a short while, and is then replaced with more adverse emotions
To understand that chain can help her engage with finding other methods to cope with whatever she is struggling with x
It's great that you've reacted in such a calm and non-judgmental way, and that your daughter is able to talk to you about it. As well as the advice pp have given, there's a website called National Self Harm Network which has a list of useful distraction techniques she could use instead of cutting. Some of them have been quite useful for me.
Www.healthforteens.co.uk has lots of advice including links to appropriate websites and sources of support.
Your school nurse (not the first aiders based in school) who will cover lots of schools would be a good person to get in touch with most teams are still working and offering support even if a telephone consult with you and your daughter.
Calm Harm is a great app (apologies if you’re already aware of it). The focus is on “riding the wave” of the urge to self harm by getting through short bursts of time with various techniques (distraction, release, breathing etc) so she can find what works for her, it may not be the same thing all the time.
And yes yes yes to a counsellor who can help her process her feelings and develop better coping strategies. Because self harm is a coping strategy, it’s just not a very good one.
You mentioned your split from her dad as being part of the reason for it, please don’t feel guilty or blame yourself. What matters is she trusts you enough to share this with you and you’re supporting her through it.
Self harm can be triggered by actions of other people or situations, but the real cause is a lack of better coping techniques and her own feelings. I’m not saying this to blame her, it’s just my own experience. I did used to blame other people for me self harming (though thankfully I had enough sense even at the worst times to never to actually tell them I blamed them!) but over the years have developed more understanding of why I do it.
Thank you for all of this advice, it's so helpful. She does feel ashamed and like a failure. So I'm trying really hard to reassure her I'm proud of her for talking to me about it.
She has the CalmHarm app and has tried to use it when she wants to cut herself.
I will have a look through the other suggestions.
I do feel huge guilt. There are addiction issues with her dad and the court is involved. I'm trying to keep her as far out of it as I can.
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