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“My son self-harms” What to do – and what not to do –

It is normal that, as a mother, you always want to be prepared to attend to any needs that your children have. Since you have your first baby you develop an ability to sleep less, to solve problems, and to understand how they think. But nothing prepares a mother when a child self-harms, no matter their age.

Why is a child self-harming?

By discovering that your child is self-harming, a chain of questions can overwhelm your mind. You want to avoid it by any means, you watch it more diligently and wonder if you’re doing something wrong.

You should know that there is no simple cause to cause someone to get injured.

However, the first thing you need to do is stay calm and start determining the reasons

for which it happens. Determining them can be difficult at first because if it was something easy to think about, your child would have told you or someone he trusted. Reasons include attempts to get attention, ways to express their emotions freely, feelings of guilt, emotional gaps (of their personal, family, friends, or others). Whatever the reason, keep in mind that having your child self-harm doesn’t mean he or she wants to take his or her life.

This whole process can take some time to understand the circumstances and probably professional help. The following tips will help you find the best solution.

What to do if my child self-harms?

Control your emotions

In addition to overcoming the initial shock and fear, you have to manage feelings like guilt and uncertainty. When you face the issue with your child, you need to be calm and willing to listen to it.

Find out the motives and triggers

Self-harm is not a disease or disorder on its own, they have a general emotional cause. It’s a way to express frustration, anger, sadness, stress, or depression. Reasons can range from bullying, cyberbullying, parental separation, family violence, sexual abuse, among others. Understanding what’s causing your behavior is the first step in solving it.

Avoid putting pressure on it

When your child is self-harming, he or she may not want to talk to you about the reasons. Don’t push him, or question him like you’re a cop, that’ll make it close more. Give him your understanding and remind him how much you love him.

Assess the type of injury

The most common wounds caused by children and young people are cuts to the skin, known as“cutting“. But there are also cases of bumps, scratches, bites, or burns. Most self-harm has no suicidal intent, so they are superficial wounds, but none are free of infection.

children cutting

Seek medical guidance

Contact your pediatrician, child psychologist, or family therapist immediately. Emotional therapy is an excellent option, especially if your child doesn’t want to talk about it openly with you.

Common mistakes to avoid if your child self-harms

Avoid screaming and scolding

The first natural reaction will be to interrogate what and why they are doing that, but you must avoid screaming and scolding. Remember that the causes are emotional, so when your child self-harms and reproaches are not effective.

Avoid minimizing the situation

Many parents believe that self-harm is just to attract attention and manipulate them. But you must not minimize the situation. Self-harm is a form of inappropriate expression and communication that needs to be addressed.

sad boy

Don’t blame yourself

Finding a culprit right now won’t be helpful. This behavior is simply your child’s emotional inability to handle a situation. Focus on knowing the causes and providing helpful and truthful information to your doctor to treat your child.

Don’t expose it

Discuss this situation only with your nearest environment, avoid talking to any family member or neighbor. That’ll make him feel embarrassed. If your child feels you’re exposing it, he won’t be able to trust you.

Although self-harms are done in private, there are signs that something is wrong with your child: he just wants to wear long-sleeved clothes and pants, he doesn’t want to change his clothes in front of you, he locks himself in his room or bathroom for long periods, his attitude is evasive or unstable.

Once you identify the problem, discuss it with a specialist, carefully discuss the matter, and examine possible causes that trigger self-harm. With the right orientation and proper control of your emotions, you’ll be able to quickly regain your little one’s confidence.

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