Understanding the Motivations and Reasoning Behind Teenage Self Harm

Teenage self harm or Non-Suicidal Self-Injury can be difficult, upsetting and confusing for parents that didn’t feel the need to self harm in their youth.  A lot of people try not to reflect too deeply on the idea of self harm because at the base of human existence, our need to survive and stay safe outweighs any impulse to harm ourselves. For this reason it’s important to understand the motivations and reasoning behind why your child may be turning to self harm. Not all people self harm for the same reasons or in the same manner. The best way for a parent to help their child to stop harming is to find the underlying cause for the issue.

The Intention Behind Teenage Self Harm

You may be under the impression that teenage self harm and suicide attempts are one and the same. Someone who causes themselves intentional injury doesn’t usually do so with the intent to kill themselves. A lot of young individuals self harm as a way of coping with stress. Hurting themselves becomes a way for them to control their feelings and release their pent up emotions. Other teens self harm as a way to dissociate from the problems they are facing. It can help distract them from their emotional problems/pain. There are other motivations for self injury including a need to reduce the feeling of tension or anxiety. Reducing loneliness and sadness or alleviating angry. A young person may self harm to punish themselves due to self-hatred. They may also do it to show others that they are distressed or need help.

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Are their symptoms of self harm?

Just like with any other illness or issue you may be worried about with your child there are things that you should look for and be aware of. There are plenty of different manners in which a teenager can create self-harm injuries. The most common of these involves cutting their skin with sharp objects like razor blades, broken glass, pocket knives or pins. These injuries can range from moderate cuts to more severe cuts. Other symptoms or forms of self harm include burning or hitting or. overdosing on medications. You may catch your child picking or scratching scabs to prevent proper wound healing. They could also begin pulling out eyelashes, hair and eyebrows with the intent of pain. Lastly, they may involve themselves in inserting objects into their body with the intent of causing pain and distress.

How Can I Help My Child?

One of the best ways to help your child is by addressing the issue. Ignoring it or writing it off as ‘angsty’ and ‘dramatic’ teenage behavior could only make your child spiral further and possibly take more drastic actions that may be life threatening. Finding ways for your child to express their problems and create healthy coping mechanisms can be a good path forward for a healthier future. Insight Treatment has one on one and group therapy sessions that work at those exact goals. If you believe your child could benefit from the help of therapy or group counseling please call us at: (888) 295-9995 to learn more about our admissions process and programs.