When people think of teen self-harm, they usually think of teens cutting themselves. Cutting is the most prevalent form of self-harm. However, it is not the only way adolescents hurt themselves. Self-harm can be seen in various other forms of behavior: scratching, burning, hair and eyebrow pulling, or scalding, for example. Although there is no one reason for self-harming, self-harming often indicates underlying emotional problems. Parents need to be aware of the indicators, so they can help their kids stop this terrible practice.
Some Self-Harming Difficult To Discover
It is difficult for parents to discover when their teens are cutting. It may be even more difficult for parents to realize that some of the things their teens are doing is a form of self-harm. But, it is important for parents to be aware of these other self-harm activities. Just like cutting, they can escalate into more serious and dangerous activities.
You would never think of an rectangular pink eraser as a self-harming tool. However, in our experience, we have seen them used by teens to induce pain. Teenagers are inventive. They will use what is around to fulfil their needs. If cutting has become an addiction, then they will use instruments like erasers to harm themselves until the underlying problems are discovered and resolved.
- Punching Things
- Picking Wounds
- Pulling Out Hair/Eyebrows
- Ingesting Toxins
- Excessive Rubbing
Unfortunately, it is difficult for parents to discover many self-harm activities until they have become well established. All forms of self-harm leave marks in one way of another, rashes, cuts, burns. Some like eyebrow pulling are easy to detect, but most are not. Typically, a parent will not know for some months or longer that there is a problem.
Traumatic Events Can Trigger Self-Harming
Often, there are events that take place in a teens life that can precipitate self-harming. Loss, moving, and new social pressures are all potential precursors to self-harming. For instance, if your family has moved to a new location, it may be a good idea to keep a close eye on how your teen is adjusting. The same goes if there has been a death in the family or the death of a close friend. Divorce is another event in a teens life that can be quite traumatic and lead to self-harming activities.
Self-Harm Tips for Parents
- Understand effects of stressful events
- Stay emotionally connected
- Talk about important issues
- Look for telling marks on the body
- Look for inappropriate dress
If you discover your teen is engaged in self-harm, it is important to sit down with your teenager and talk to them. There could be a lot of bottled up emotions that are finding an outlet in self-harming.