Self-Harm in Children

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In today’s society, it is really hard growing up. Our children today, have to compete against not only everyone in their school, but now with social media the way it is, they also need to compete with every other child all over the country on these platforms. Ugh! What pressure it is to look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, have name brand clothes, and act like everyone else. We’ve seen an increase in mental health

In my work with adolescents, I have experienced many children self-harming because, they feel helpless in their life and they either don’t know how to express this or don’t feel like their parents will understand a certain situation. Some forms of self-harm include cutting, burning, scratching, branding, biting, hitting, and picking.

We as adults who role model for these kids, protect them, stand up to this behavior, need to learn what to say to them. How can we pick up on cues that tell us, our child is going down this all too dangerous, yet “popular” path?

Here is what we know about children who self-harm. Many children who self-harm struggle with mental health issues; eating disorders, abuse, depression, anxiety, parental conflicts, chaotic home environment and trauma are all things that can induce this behavior. They are trying to gain some level of control over themselves or their environment. Self-harm may be done to expression negative thoughts that they aren’t able to understand or express. If they are experiencing any type of overwhelming emotion, they might not have the ability or tools to moderate these. This is where counseling will help. In counseling, the child will learn coping skills to self-soothe and reduce the intense emotions and feelings they are experiencing. By your child gaining emotional intelligence, he or she will be able to express their emotions is a healthier way and lessen the need to self-harm.

Research has shown that self-harm is addicting. When a child self-harms, the endorphins that make us feel good, similar to a “runners high” that happens after a good workout or a long run, will flood the bloodstream, making the child feel better. They then start to associate this “good” feeling as soothing instead of what it really is, damaging. In addition, due to this “good” feeling not lasting a long time, children start doing self-harm more and more. This is similar to a drug addict where they need more of the drug to feel the same effect.

Signs of self-harming behavior can include the child wearing long sleeves regardless of the weather, signs of anger, sadness, isolation, unexplained cuts and scratches, decrease in academic performance, and statements or behaviors of helplessness, worthlessness and hopelessness.

 

Post by: Jessica Edmonds, MA, LPC

 

 

If you think your child is struggling with self-harm, please contact us and schedule an appointment at 303-353-9226 or jedmonds@brightsidecounseling.net

 

 

 

 

*Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Brightside Counseling Services, LLC
edmonds@brightsidecounseling.net  |  303.353.9226
5650 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. Greenwood Village, CO 80111