|Cutting in Teens--
Question: My teen cuts herself. Is she psychotic? Is this a suicide
Answer: NO. Self-injury is just a weird coping strategy, a way to stay
alive. Teenagers who inflict physical harm on themselves are often doing
it in an attempt to reduce emotional stress - it's a way to keep from killing themselves. They
release unbearable feelings and pressures through self-harm, and that relieves their urge toward
suicide. And, although some teenagers who self-injure do later attempt suicide, they almost
always use a method different from their preferred method of self-harm.
SOME OF THE REASONS ADOLESCENTS SELF-INJURE:
Most teens hide their wounds and scars because their self-harm is a shameful secret, and they
dread the consequences of discovery.
THINGS A PARENT CAN DO ABOUT SELF-INJURY:
Forms of Self-injury:
· picking/pulling skin and hair
· punching walls
Why does self-injury make some people feel better?
They feel a strong uncomfortable emotion, don't know how to handle it, don’t have a name for it,
and know that hurting themselves will reduce the emotional discomfort extremely quickly. They
may still feel bad, but they don't have that panicky-jittery-trapped feeling; it's a calm bad feeling.
What else can I, the parent, do about my child’s self-injury?
Have him or her read the following:
Deciding to stop self-injury is a very personal decision. You may have to consider it for a long
time before you decide that you're ready to commit to a life without scars and bruises. Don't be
discouraged if you conclude the time isn't right for you to stop yet.
Alderman (1997) suggests this useful checklist of things to ask yourself before you begin walking
away from self-harm. It isn't necessary that you be able to answer all of the questions "yes," but
the more of these things you can set up for yourself, the easier it will be to stop hurting yourself.
While it is not necessary that you meet all of these criteria before stopping self-injury, the more
of these statements that are true for you before you decide to stop this behavior, the better.
So what do I do instead of self-injury?
If you are bound and determined to hurt yourself, don't share cutting implements with anyone,
try to keep cuts shallow, keep first aid supplies on hand and know what to do in the case of
emergencies, and do only the minimum required to ease your distress.
|Note: Depressed teens consistently view their plight as hopeless. They may not be comforted by relationships with family and friends. They will frequently show poor concentration, extreme difficulty in self-starting, striking changes in thinking and behaving, and changes in their eating patterns. They have trouble sleeping through the night and often feel tired, dragged out -- or conversely, have excessive nervous energy. They may feel guilty or worthless. They tend to push away their parents and rely more on relationships with peers. Teenagers can become unhappy for many reasons. Teenagers who become very stressed will sometimes become depressed. In any case, the parent should consider the following: 1. Use positive discipline. Shame and punishment instead of positive reinforcement may leave feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy in their lives. 2. Avoid over-protecting and over-directing. Protecting children from too many things, not letting them make a mistake, and directing everything they should and should not be doing comes across to children as your lack of faith in their ability to do anything for themselves. 3. Do not expect absolute compliance. 4. Do not use your child to fulfill your own unachieved goals.|
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