Cutting Self-Injury Out Of Child’s Habits
You may have heard of it, seen it or experienced it – cutting and self-harm.
While it may be one’s method for coping it is also probably a horror story to parents who do their best to be attentive and loving towards their children.
The New York Times Parenting blog recently covered this topic and their source Part-time Psychology Harvard Professor and author of Helping Teens Who Cut: Understanding and Ending Self-Injury, Dr. Michael Hollander shed some serious light on the topic.
Dr. Hollander explains that for some kids injuring themselves serves as an emotional coping mechanism. Often times it is either an attempt to calm themselves down or to try and feel something. Others do it as a punishment. Rarely do people cut to get attention.
Dr. Hollander says, “The vast majority of kids who cut themselves do so as an emotion-regulation strategy, and, unfortunately, it works, which is why it’s so hard to get them to stop.”
So how does a parent deal with self-harm? Since self-harm is usually a physical reaction exhibited by a deeply emotional and sensitive person, the approach in this circumstance is different.
First of all, Dr. Hollander suggests to take action. Children in these situations may ask for their acts of self-harm to be kept secret or for more time. Since they are the ones in pain and probably not the most stable they are not really in a position to promise that they will stop without treatment.
Dr. Hollander reminds parents not to prioritize their relationships with their kids over the well-being of their kids. He also suggests not to offer substitutes in place of cutting, cutters need specialized treatment.
Most importantly parents need to know that while they may not fully understand the feelings behind the cutting they need to be validated because they are real to the child, which is why the feelings are being physically exhibited. Validation is as simple as acknowledging feelings not liking them or agreeing with them.
For information on find treatment visit Helpguide.org.