Self harm in children: what should parents know?
Problems about self harm in children
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Self-harm is a behavior in which a person hurts himself or herself on purpose with or without suicide intent. The common self-harm method among people are biting, scratching, overdosing, poisoning, and cutting. No doubt, finding out that your child is intentionally hurting herself or himself can be more disturbing for dads and moms. As a parent, it is essential to know about self-harm in children to help them overcome such behavior.
In this article, we will provide you with reasons why a child harms himself deliberately, the influence of social media on the act, signs to look out for, and how to reduce self-harm in children. Read on to find out!
Why Do Children Self-Harm?
There are a lot of reasons why children can self-harm, and they are different for any young person or child. Many people often think they can release tension or cope with complicated feelings by physically harming themselves deliberately. Even though the reasons why teenagers and children self-harm is often complicated, some emotional pains and difficult experiences can make your child harm herself intentionally.
- Feeling alone or being bullied
If a child often feels excluded in the family or among peers, it can be damaging to his self-esteem and result in feelings of boredom and sadness. A kid struggling with the uncontrollable feelings of loneliness can start harming herself physically. Your kid can also self-harm if he/she is often taunted, verbally, or physically attacked, or picked on by peers in school.
- Childhood and sexual abuse
Sexual and childhood abuse can result in depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and more. These factors can cause a child to exhibit regressive behaviors such as self-harm. For example, if a parent performs sexual acts in the presence of their child or exposes their kid to pornography, it can be detrimental to the child’s emotion leading to deliberate physical harm.
- Academic pressure
Many parents put much pressure on their children to succeed because they can’t tolerate less than excellent performance. This can cripple your child psychologically and make him/her feel less inspired and more threatening. The parental high academic expectations can result in added pressure, thereby causing your children to commit an act of self-destruction.
Some of the other reasons why children self-harm is:
- Feeling numb or angry
- Family relationship problems
- Experiencing neglect
- Mental health problems
- Misuse of substance
Social Media Influence to Self-Harm
Today, teenagers nearly maintain 24/7 accessibility and connection with their electronic devices. Most of them have social media account with some of the popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. They often communicate with both strangers and friends via these platforms. Unfortunately, bullies often use social media to facilitate hurtful attacks leading to real pain, hurt, and embarrassment for kids. If your child’s exposure to social media platforms increases, it can increase the rate of bullying.
As this continues to happen, a kid may develop severe anxiety, depression, psychological problems, or reduced self-esteem, and these can result in self-harm or even suicidal ideation. For example, a young girl named Natalie Natividad was bullied repeatedly online and at school but couldn’t take it any longer after a year. Do you know what she did? The 8th grader at Hebbronville Middle in South Texas took her own life tragically. This is not to scare you as parents but to let you know how social media can result in self-harm.
The Signs of Self-Harm in Children
The most important thing for you to do as a parent when it comes to knowing if your child is self-harming himself or herself is to trust your instincts. Do you know why? The signs of self-harm in children can be challenging to recognize. Nevertheless, there are some signs to look out for.
- Unexplained burns, bruises, bite-marks, or cuts
If you check the thighs, forearms, chest, or wrist of your ward and find unexplained cuts, he or she may be involved in self-harm.
- Covering up
Do your child wear long sleeves or always cover his body during the summer or warm weather? Don’t think it is normal or he likes it like that. He might be covering up the cuts or bruises gotten from intentional physical harm.
- If your ward blames herself consistently for problems that have occurred
One of the most toxic forms of emotional abuse is self-blame, and this can result in self-hurt. So, pay careful attention to your kid if he blames himself always.
- Isolating and withdrawing from family or friends
When a young person starts to isolate themselves, it can result in fear of others and even feelings of loneliness. As you already know, these factors can cause self-harm in children. So, be on the lookout.
Other children’s self-harm signs are:
- A kid lacking interest in what he/she enjoyed to do before
- If your child starts making statements of worthlessness and hopelessness
- Drugs or alcohol abuse and other risky behaviors
- Outburst of anger
How to Reduce Self-Harm in Children?
Parents are often at a loss of how to approach their child when they suspect a problem such as self-harm. However, there is no cause for alarm as there are some ways you can reduce and even prevent self-harm in children.
1. Communicate – discussing self-harm can be difficult, but if you know how to go about it, it can help. When communicating with your kid, maintain a natural tone, and don’t lecture or ask too many questions. Be direct with your child, and don’t act out of anger. Express concern by saying, “we can help you or get help for you.” Don’t make statements like “we are going to punish you” or “you can’t go anywhere because we will be watching you every second.”
2. Be consistent with routines – When you discover that your kid is self-harming, you may want to minimize instructions, expectations, or demands. Doing so can teach your adolescent that one of the effective ways of avoiding expectations and rules is through self-harm. However, if you keep expectations and routines consistent, your children will feel that you believe they can manage disappointment and fulfill expectations. This can help minimize the likelihood of self-harming.
3. Re-route self-harm – you can reduce self-hurt in children by taking a detour. For example, encourage your kid to use less strenuous activities like snapping a rubber band, tearing paper, holding an ice cube, shredding a sheet, chasing pets, running or dancing, and more. Also, you can reward effective coping strategies and encourage your child to improve.
4. Seek professional help – a trained therapist can help by evaluating your young adolescent and providing techniques to reduce self-injury in your children.
What Can FamiSafe Help to Tackle Self-Harm in Children?
FamiSafe is one of the most reliable parental control apps you can find and install on you and your kid’s smartphone. It comes with ample of features that can help you protect your child against some of the factors that can lead to self-harm.
- Web Filter & SafeSearch
- Screen Time Limit & Schedule
- Location Tracking & Driving Report
- App Blocker & App Activity Tracker
- YouTube History Monitor & Video Blocker
- Social Media Texts & Porn Images Alerts
- *Works on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire
- Web filter – this feature will help you block sites that can encourage or lead to self-injure in children.
- Website history monitor - You can check the browsing history of your children and also add inappropriate websites to blacklist to prevent them from assessing it in the future.
- App blocker – if you see that your young teenager is using an app that contains unhealthy information and encourage self-harm, you can block such an app using the app blocker feature.
Although self-harm in children can be a severe issue, knowing about it has a parent can help you know when your kid is involved in it and how to help him/her deal with it. Remember, prevention is better than cure. So, it would help if you discourage your children from exploring sites, platforms, and apps that can influence self-harm by using the FamiSafe parental control app to block their access to such apps and sites.