Why Children Self Harm and What to Do About It

  • Self Harming Depressed Child - StartPoint Counselling

Children who cut themselves often do so to help relieve the pain and emotional stress they feel inside but don’t know how to express. “A child can get overwhelmed by their emotions,” said Dr Kelly Posner, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

“Self-injury is self-soothing. Like thumb sucking, it’s something to do when emotions are so strong, they can’t handle them.”

For some children, self-cutting begins as a conscious attempt to self soothe or self-punish without really knowing why they are doing it. Their self-harming behaviour often follows extreme stress or loss. Self-cutting becomes an addiction for others, especially if they receive positive attention for their self-mutilation.

The reasons why these children self-harm is complex and varied. Knowing the causes of self-injury will help you understand your child better, which in turn may help you prevent your child from injuring themselves.

Root causes of self-mutilation are often rooted in causes that are difficult for parents to identify. A self-harming child may be motivated by peer pressure, self-image problems or low self-esteem, among other things.

A self hurting child has usually received some form of attention for their self-injury, which can lead to their injuring themselves again. In most cases, self-injury is a way for children to vent emotions and avoid the social stigma of crying.

Experts say that self-mutilation can become addictive because it gives self-harming children a sense of relief from their emotional pain. Many self-injurers report feeling a sense of calmness after self-cutting, which causes them to repeat the behaviour.

If you are worried that your child is self-harming, it is vital to look for certain warning signs.

Common warning signs include cuts and bruises on the body that are not easily explained, secrecy around self-injury, wearing long sleeves or pants even in warm weather, and abnormal mood swings.

If you see any warning signs, talking to your child about self-injury is important. It is also important to seek professional help for your child if self-mutilation becomes a problem. The sooner self-harm is addressed, the easier it will be to prevent further damage.

There are many ways to help prevent your child from self-harming.

One way to help is to create a safe and supportive environment for your child. This means listening to them, not judging them, and providing a listening ear whenever they need it.

It is also important to teach children healthy ways to deal with their emotions. This may include teaching self-expression through art, self-regulation techniques like breathing exercises or self-care activities like self-massage.

In addition to these methods, it is important to be aware of the self-harming warning signs and to seek help from a professional as soon as possible if you suspect that your child is self-harming.

Startpoint counsellor Kate Maginnis specialises in children and adolescents. To book an appointment with her – click here > Make a Booking – StartPoint Counselling. If you would like to discuss your situation with Kate, take advantage of a 15-minute obligation free phone call by using the same link.

You’ll be amazed how counselling can help both you and your child

You will find that talking with StartPoint Counselling Beenleigh is your starting point for happy relationships and mental wellbeing.

StartPoint Counselling Practice is conveniently located in Beenleigh close to Logan, Mt Warren Park, Stapylton, Homeview, Waterford, Loganholme and Yatala areas. However we also offer phone consultations for your convenience, see more about Booking Appointments here.

We offer a 15-minute complimentary phone session with one of our experienced counsellors. Find out how we can equip you and your child to deal with their emotions.