As of late it has been observed that youngsters between the ages of 10 and 25 often present to the emergency room after an episode of cutting themselves or causing self-harm. It has been estimated that more than 20% of cases presenting to the emergency room in a year comes under the category of self-harm behaviors. Injuring self is quite a complex and concerning behavioral disorder where an individual attempts to injure oneself without the intention of actually committing suicide[1].

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Studies suggest that youngsters who are exposed to daily life stressors like rejection, peer problems, inferiority complex are more likely to cause an injury to themselves due to their inability to cope with these stressors. Family problems also play an important role in aggravating stress in the life of an adolescent[1].

Some of the other factors that have a role to play in adolescents depicting self-harm behaviors are mental conditions like depression, aggressiveness, sexual intimacy problems, and an overall sense of helplessness and hopelessness[1].

Of the many behaviors that adolescents show causing self-harm, self-cutting is the most common. This is one behavior which many patients feel provides instant relief from any stress. Some patients do this just to feel the pain that it causes while others do it for seeking attention from their peers or parents[1].

A surge in the cases of self-cutting is indeed a wake-up call for parents to take time out from their schedule and spend time with their children. This article gives an overview of some of the ways to help teens who have a habit of cutting[1].

How to Help Teens Who Have a Habit of Cutting?

If a parent finds out that their child has a habit of cutting there are a lot of things that can be done as a parent. The best thing that a parent can give is provide support to the child for a start. Understanding the feelings of the child and working towards it is also a nice way to help the child staying away from cutting. The best way to help a teen to get over the habit of cutting includes[2]:

Emotion Control: The first thing that as a parent you have to do is to control your own emotions. It is quite understandable to be shocked, angry, and sometimes even scared when you find out that your child has a habit of cutting. You may even feel helpless when thinking that your child took this route to show his feelings rather than coming to you to seek advice[2].

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However, this is the time when you need to have a control over your emotions. You should be calm and composed and handle the situation with great maturity. You can vent your emotions with a friend, cry out loud, or go for a long walk with your pet just to let your emotions wean off. You can also consult a mental health professional with this regard. Once your own emotions are under control it would be easy to sort the matter out with your child and help him get over this mentally taxing period[2].

Learn About this Behavior: The next step towards helping your child is to get as much knowledge about cutting as you can. This should include possible causes and how to cope up with it. Cutting behavior normally starts after a prolonged period of unrelenting pressure. This may be in the form of peer competition, bad performance in school or college, or a mistake that the child may have committed unwillingly[2].

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In some cases, the bad environment at home with parents continuously arguing and fighting also affects the mind of the child causing him to inure himself. You need to have knowledge of all this and work a way out to resolve those[2].

Communication: This is the most important phase of helping your child get out of this behavior of cutting. Once you have a control of emotions and have knowledge of the behavior it is now time to talk. It may be very challenging for you to talk with the child on this particular topic. Some children may not respond favorably. However, patience is the key here and you need to be calm and collective[2].

It is the way that you communicate with your child is what will decide whether the child will come out of it or not. You may start with informing the child about your concern about his behavior and your willingness to help him get over it. If you observe that your child is hesitant to speak about this topic then do not get worried. You need to be patient and try again after some time[2].

It will not take long for your child to open up to you and relay his true feelings. It you should be careful to not react to his emotions in any form of anger or scolding. Gradually you start asking the child as to what pressure he or she is having and where the problem is. Whether it is peer pressure or something else that is bothering the child[2].

Counseling: Psychological counseling is the next step towards helping a child getting out of the habit of cutting. Getting help for a mental health professional will allow the child to learn ways to cope up with pressure and develop skills to stop the habit of cutting[2].

There are various therapies utilized by mental health professionals these days where the patients are asked to relay their stories, tell everyone their experiences, and develop skills to deal with difficult periods in life. It also helps in identifying any indwelling mental illness that the child may be having which requires management. It is important to choose a therapist that your child is comfortable with rather than going to a mental health professional that you are comfortable with[2].

Positive Attitude: It is always a plus point to have a positive attitude towards solving the problem. While professional help is going on with your child ensure that you are with the child at every possible step. Also encourage the child that he or she is doing extremely well which will make the process even smooth[2].

You can consult with the psychologist as to different ways to offer support to your child to help him get out of the habit of cutting. It would be best that the kid speaks to you about any pressure that may be affecting the child that he or she is not able to cope up with[2].

Devise a positive alternative of cutting in cases where the pressure gets too strong to handle. Convince your child to speak to you about his day to day activities, successes, needs, and opinions. Try and help the child solve the problem at hand[2].

This will instill a lot of confidence in the child to approach you with his or her problems rather than resort to behaviors like cutting. It is also essential to spend time together. A long drive, dinner at a restaurant, or just having fun at the beach is a good way to boost confidence in the child[2].

Set the Trend: Speak with your child as to how you used to deal with your emotions when you were of his or her age. In case if you get angry quickly or are weak in handling pressures then try and sort the problems positively so that your kid also imitates it instead of trying self-harm methods of dealing with stress[2].

In conclusion, helping a child with cutting behavior is a long and tedious process. The parents have to be extremely patient and of course hopeful. You should know that it will take quite a long time for this habit of cutting to go away completely, as the child may just do not want to stop it or may find it hard to make the necessary changes in life[2].

To stop this behavior of cutting involves a lot of motivation and determination on the part of both parents as well as the child. The child needs to develop new skills to cope up with pressures in life. This can only be done with the help of a mental health professional[2].

Therefore, psychological counseling is also an imperative part of treatment for a child with habit of cutting. All in all, it will take time, patience, lots of love and support on the part of the parent to succeed in stopping the habit of cutting in their child[2].

References:  

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 30, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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