Putting A Stop to Self-Harm
Self-harm is a way in which some children and teens cope with emotional distress. Research shows that about 15 percent of adolescents engage in self-harm. There are various methods that can be considered self-harm, as the term itself refers to self-inflicting physical pain. Some forms of self-harm include cutting, burning, scratching, and hitting. Self-harming behaviors are also commonly linked to other mental health issues or disorders such as anxiety, depression, or eating disorders.
One can feel the need to self-harm for many different reasons. They may not know how to verbalize their emotions. It could be their way of soothing sadness or other emotions. Or self-harm can be a response to feelings of hopelessness and inability to articulate negative thoughts. Self-harm behaviors become addictive and can wreak havoc on your child and in your family’s life. Aside from seeking a mental health professional for help, there are additional ways in which you can support and decrease your child’s desire to self-harm.
Five Ways to Boot the Behaviors
Overcoming self-harming behaviors will not be an overnight miracle. It is a process and takes time and work. Getting help is the priority. Once you get help, you can build, and move forward from there. This is not an issue you can tackle alone. Your child will be able to receive an effective intervention, create healthy habits and essentially heal. Here are some additional ways you can be helpful and supportive in the healing process:
The “Feel Good” First-Aid Kit.
Identify things that make your child feel uplifted and happy. Photos, trinkets, a journal, bubble gum, etc. Every child is different. Find what calms and inspires your child and compile these things in an accessible box that they can seek when they are feeling down.
Communicate and reevaluate.
Help your child better understand and reflect on the situations and stressors that trigger their negative feelings. Come up with a reasonable plan to avoid these triggers and discuss how to manage them if they arise. This helps your child be prepared and have the necessary skills at their disposal. Also, talk about your personal triggers and the healthy ways you cope. Your child will find comfort in knowing they are not alone in feeling stressed sometimes.
Replace the self-harming behaviors.
Come up with creative alternatives for when your child has the desire to self-harm. Holding an ice cube, tearing paper, shredding a sheet, snapping a rubber band, sucking a lemon peel and pounding a pillow are a few examples of methods that can be used to combat the temptation to self-harm.
The rush of adrenaline that comes from engaging in physical activities, such as running, dancing and playing chase with pets produces the same chemical surge that self-injury does. Encourage your child to get active and use this as a healthy way to manage emotions and blow off steam.
Support through the setbacks.
Shaming, criticizing and lashing out at your child if they experience a setback can be disasters. This type of reaction can trigger the urge to continue self-harming. Continuously remind yourself that this is a process and there will be obstacles along the way. Teach your child how to pick up and try again tomorrow. Your support means everything.
Trails Carolina can help
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for adolescents ages 10-17 who struggle with troubling behavior. This program uses adventure-based therapy as a way to address the whole-child and lead them to new paths of self-awareness, self-reliance, and an improved self-confidence. Being removed from their fast-paced and often overwhelming environment, they have the opportunity to focus on themselves and improve their behaviors. Trails Carolina supports and nurtures students as they develop and improve the skills they need to lead happy and healthy lives.
Contact us at 800-975-7303