We fear and worry about different things at different ages. Adults may deal with stress by talking to friends, exercising, or seeking medical help. For teenagers, however, it may be very hard for them to find the right way. With a growing awareness of the world and sense of self, many teenagers are likely to handle the stress by self-harm. This may be surprising, but it is a fact that deserves everyone’s attention.
Self-harm behaviors are more common than you might think
According to a study, a quarter of U.S. teens have experimented with self-harm at least once, higher than any other age group. Teenagers seem to see it as a coping mechanism when facing an increasingly stressful world. They don’t intend to end their lives through physical self-harm; instead, it’s more of a way to relieve negative emotions and distract themselves from their problems, a dangerous way of course, because they are actually rehearsing hurting their body.
Watch out for signs of self-harm
Parents should keep timely attention to their children’s mental and physical health and be alert to the signs of self-harm. It often happens when your children:
- For some time have been experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, especially when there’s failure or frustration in school.
- Have problems managing their negative emotions. They may be unusually silent or upset or easy to be irritated.
- Have suspicious cutting marks or burns on their body, such as wrists, arms, or thighs.
If you notice these signs, don’t treat them as some attention-seeking behaviors. Rather, they are signals from your kids for help.
What can you do to help?
Stay calm and be their liable support
If you think your children are at risk of self-hurting or have already hurt themselves, stay calm as much as you can. Don’t let your children see you overreacting; it may worsen their feelings and push your children away from you. Instead, you should be their reliable support through staying with them and listening to their troubles if they are open to sharing.
Search for professional treatment
Keep in mind that the longer they are in the mood for hurting themselves, the harder it gets to stop that behavior and the more serious it would be. Therefore, an immediate treatment from professional counselors or experienced psychologists is demanded, to not only prevent self-injury from becoming a bad habit but help treat any potential psychiatric troubles as well.
Other professional help you can get
Your kids may also need an evaluation from a child psychiatrist for treatment suggestions. You can seek help from a treatment center in your area that provides treatment for self-harm. Besides, a self-harm support group can be of help for your kids where they can communicate with others and know that they are not alone on this issue.
As long as teens develop a healthier mechanism coping with pressure and negative emotions, they won’t resort to self-hurt as a relief. And parents always play a central role. Give more attention to your children, and don’t let them deal with the growing troubles all by themselves.