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TW : I have just found out my 12 year old is self harming.

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TW : I have just found out my 12 year old is self harming.


TW : I have just found out my 12 year old is self harming.

A teacher noticed marks on my daughters arm while in the classroom and called me to make me aware.  I was a bit dismissive as she had fallen off a swing the previous day so I thought the marks related to this incident.  When I arrived home my daughter was in her room and so I mentioned what the school teacher had told me and asked her if I could see her arm in case they needed attention, saying I didn't realise the fall had done that much damage. 

My daughter became evasive and refused to show me - which I was confused by as I was still thinking they were injuries from the fall.  When I asked her again to show me her arm she begged off saying she was busting for the loo. When she returned she showed me a mark that looked faint and something she had done in the loo quickly to throw me off any others.  It had me concerned that my daughter was hiding something so I spoke to her dad about the whole issue and (as they are both quite close) I asked if he could speak to her about her arm - which he did - but she refused to show him too and wouldn't answer any questions, just shut it down. 

I was quite shocked at this as she is quite a bubbly social girl and always chatting, especially with her dad!  This is something very much out of the blue for me - it has really shocked the both of us and I'm really not sure how to deal with it.  I'm not used to my daughter refusing to do something and I don't know why she would hide something from us.  

We have spent the weekend just doing things together like cooking and playing switch gams and ensuring she stays out of her room (she spends a lot of time in her room, drawing and painting) and we have removed her phone from her entirely as we feel that this may be part of the issue.  By the end of the weekend we still haven't seen the marks so I am not sure how superficial or not they are - I just know she's definitely hiding them/it.  I'm feeling its a little 'too little too late' if she's already headed down a path of self harm.  I'm not sure what my next step should be to get her to 1. show us and 2. get some help for her

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Re: I have just found out my 12 year old is self harming.

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Hi ,

Thank you for sharing this with us. I want to start by acknowledging how frightening and upsetting this situation must be for you. It’s so difficult to watch your children struggle and not know what’s going on or how to help. It can be quite common for anyone who self harms to feel ashamed or worried about judgement or punishment. It’s not too late, there are ways of managing this behaviour even if it is occurring. We have an article on self harm which some includes some helpful tips. It’s really great that you’re thinking about next steps and how to handle this situation best. We’d encourage you to call mental health triage on 13 14 65, if you’re ever worried about your daughter’s safety. It is important to know whether your daughter needs medical attention for her self harm. If she’s unwilling to show you, you could ask her whether she feels comfortable showing someone else, like a GP or a teacher. Lastly, as you mentioned that this behaviour is quite out of character for your daughter, it’s important that she receives professional support. You could consult with your GP or school counsellor to start with. Additionally, there are online services here that provide web or telephone counselling if your daughter needs more immediate support.