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14 year old daughter self-harming

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14 year old daughter self-harming

Casual scribe

Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

I've just been reading your message thread about your daughter self-harming, and I wonder if you could reply with an update about how she's doing now?
Active scribe

Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

Hi - I'm sorry to hear that you are going through the same issues that I am.  It sucks and it's not fair but that is just something that I guess we have to deal with and getting help through forums like this and through other professional places really does help.  So my daughter is now 15 and she is still having problems.  It's taken her a long time to realise that getting professional help is the best thing that she can do for herself.  Her problems lie with perfectionism, self esteem and social anxiety.  She still self harms but only occasionally rather than every day.  This is because she still hasn't found a better way to deal with the amount of stress she feels at the time.  This is still really hard for me to write about and I have a constant level of anxiety that sits with me all day every day but I have learned to push that aside when I am around the kids.  My daughter has commenced year 10 this year and the work load is huge already but she has a great group of teachers, school counsellor, dietitian, GP, and we are still looking for that 'perfect fit' psychologist.  She has attempted to work with 3 since late 2016 but none of them seem to make her feel comfortable enough to open up to.  She is ready to talk and she does things on her own terms so I have to trust her in terms of finding the right person because that person will be with her for a long time and will need to support her for many years going forward.  Lots of people have told me that it can take 5, 6 or more attempts to find the right person so perseverance is the key right now.  She talks to the school counsellor, GP and dietitian openly so when she finds that psychologist that she trusts I am sure she will move forward in leaps and bounds.  The key to my daughter moving forward has been to lay off the blame and pressure, make life as enjoyable as possible, make home the safe place (don't make it the place where she is doing everything wrong - so what if she's left a plate on the table or left her shoes out - there are more important things in life).  I have let her manage her school work and not provided any pressure to get homework done or get assignments in on time and this resulted in good grades.  I say to her "Imagine the grades you could get if you tried" - I don't say this to pressure her, it's more telling her that right now, if she can't put in the effort that is ok - it will come.  This year she has had a good start - using her diary well, using checklists, diving into sport that she loves.  She's laughing a lot more, gets along better with her brothers, hangs out with the family more, eats pretty well, looks after herself.  All of this is a far cry from what was happening this time last year.  So whilst things aren't 'normal', they are as normal as they can be for now and if she self harms I don't show disappointment or concern - I just say 'it's ok' because I know that she has a mental illness and I know that she really doesn't want to be doing it but she doesn't know any other way sometimes.  My advice to you is as follows:

1. Encourage your child to seek professional help but make sure they are happy with the person they are seeing otherwise it won't work.  It's ok to try a few people until you find the right one - they don't get offended.

2. If eating is an issue - find a good dietitian.

3. Have a good GP

4. If there is a school counsellor or nurse talk to them and get their support at school

5. Show them that you love them, spend time with them, acknowledge their achievements and ignore the little things they do wrong.

6. Help them to understand that it's ok to not be perfect, it's ok to get things wrong, it's ok if you don't feel good sometimes - allow them to be themselves - let them feel how they want to feel and show support in the down times.

7. Let them have their alone time

8. Eat family dinners a lot

9. Do more things as a family.

10. Get yourself some support - Reach Out is great to chat but there are places you can go to just chat for free in person - google helps with finding these places.

11. Take care of yourself and if you have other children don't forget about them.


Good luck and if you need to chat more let me know - sometimes I have really bad days so might not want to chat but you've caught me on an ok day so I hope I have helped.


Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

Hi can someone help me yesterday my 14 year old daughter was being silly massing around and thought it would be a great idea to spray her arm she now has burns on it she thought it was funny to do but now it's burns it's not so funny she don't really care she's done it but now she knows it hurts not so funny it was just the at first when she first did it she found it funny not now I don't think she would do it again she's just like that she does silly things and ends up finding it not so funny in the end but now I finding her hard work and I don't know what to do with her also she got school Monday her arm not going to be better by than what do I do about school and them not going in at deep end with this we already in deep with school and her not going or going in late I'm at lost end not sure what to do right for everyone can anyone help me please
Star contributor

Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

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Hi @Edge30 I am so sorry to hear about your Daughters injury. Has she been to a medical clinic or Hospital? That definitely would be top priority in this situation. In terms of managing her school and your own wellbeing, Parentline can offer you some tailored advice around this. How's everything now with your Daughter and how are you traveling?

Casual scribe

Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

Hello ,


I am sorry to hear that your daughter is self harming and that you are also struggling. I know this journey very well and we have been in this for over 3 years now. My daughter started self harming the summer before grade 8 after her best friend showed her her self harm and told my daughter that it helps her depression.. so, my girl tried it and hasn't stopped. 


Its the most painful, scary and upsetting thing any mom can go through.. seeing their child hurt themselves like that, and one of the hardest parts for me was and still is this secrecy around it. She gets so incredibly mad at me when I try to talk about it or ask if she has been self harming. We have spent thousands in therapy, psychologists etc and I even hospitalized her once. Nothing has helped and she even goes so far as to lie to the therapist, or shall I say, withhold the fact that she is self harming. I ask her, do you want to stop? and she says no, not really.. and the doctors tell me that I need to change my parenting style and stop giving it power, 


What that means is, stop trying to control it, fix it etc. Manage my own anxiety and pain around it, because she feeds on that and vice versa. She will hole herself up in her room for days and self harm when she is having a depressive episode and there isn't a thing I can do about it, We have even removed the doors off of her room then moved her room to upstairs closer to ours and nothing makes a difference. At one point I was driving myself completely and utterly insane with grief and trying to keep an eye on her so that I could stop it. After all, thats what our job is right? Well, my dear, I feel your pain. Its the worst, and it seems the harder we try to love, the more we are rejected by our children. 


My suggestion to you is this: Focus on your health and self care. Focus on learning how to manage this new relationship that you have with your child and not reacting. I have made this mistake over and over, and it is the most challenging thing for me. I want to hold her, sleep with her in her bed at night so she cant hurt her herself but thats not what she wants. She wants me to leave her alone, and to accept it. 

So today, I am online, desperate for some sort of support, like you are, and realize that what it comes down to is just me managing my own anxiety.. because otherwise I feel so devastated. 


I also want you to know that I question myself daily. What did I do wrong? What did I not do? And I beat myself up. Even though our kids have everything they could ever want or need. They have not been abused or neglected. It just seems that this is a fairly new epidemic and its a contagion. Our paediatrician told me that in his experience, this type of thing will usually resolve itself when people are in their early 20s. Great, thats what I have to look forward to.. but, really its about my daughters pain. I remind myself daily.. She is in great pain, and it is her way to cope. She is 15 and there is nothing I can do about it except love her and be here for her. 


I hope this helps to know you aren't alone. It seems like there are many of us parents out there, just as sad and confused and helpless. The best thing to do is that you talk to people, friends, strangers on the internet, and therapists. Not to your kid. Take care. 


Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

Oh your story sounds just like mine at this very moment. word for word........
Casual scribe

Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

I posted in this thread early last year and I just wanted to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our daughter was self-harming herself, horribly. It took a while to find the root cause (assault from a boy at school). She had counselling and they gave her strategies for how to handle the urge, but she didn't confide in them or divulge ANYTHING to her counsellors (though I think the avoidance strategies helped, as much as she denied it at the time). I said to her "I know what you're doing, I'm so sorry that you feel in pain to the extent that you want to hurt yourself; it must be horrible for you. If you ever want to talk to me or to anyone else, you just let me know or write me a note, or let someone else know... it doesn't have to be me. You're a gorgeous girl and this is not your fault, it's something that is happening TO you, and you're doing a good job trying to wrestle with it. We're immensely proud of you. It is really tough to go through what you're going through."

She eventually confided in me (about the assault) and we took her out of school (not just her school but all school) for 18 months. We have had such a wonderful unschooling/home-schooling time and she has just decided to go back to school, of her own volition (she's now 15). She's going to a different school and is back to the cheerful, energetic, hilarious, carefree, creative and affectionate, kind, communicative and loving girl she used to be, but with added strength. She seems smarter than her peers who have been in school all this time, and people are always commenting on how mature and smart she is for her age. Hang in there! Let them know you're on their side. I did my best to read everything I could and stay ahead of her game, so that when anything new came up (switching from blades to burns, or telling me about the assault) I was prepared ahead of time, as much as I could be, and had a calm and loving response already in my pocket. She speaks freely about how much we helped her during that time, and is an incredible young woman.

Good luck to you all. Try and feel confident that it will pass and there will be beautiful times ahead, I think if you have calm faith in them (and, lord knows, I had to FAKE that sometimes!) they will believe it too. Get them out into nature and busy and active; read movie reviews ahead of time so you can see light and positive movies only, play happy music (that they can stand!) when you play music. We made sure to hang out with lots of family and friends who made few demands on her but modelled how lovely life could be (genuinely) and made her feel loved and part of a big circle of support (none of them ever dwelt on her sad demeanour, and none of them knew about the self harm) we all just swept her along as part of something loving and positive, to which she unquestionably belonged. We removed every sharp and burning thing from her immediate grasp (we live on a small farm, so this was not easy! The list of things they told us to get rid of read like a list of the contents of our barn!) But we kept them out of her immediate reach, so that she had to make an effort to go and find something, by which time we could usually distract her. Hang in there. It's a violent and awful ride, but the view on the other side is beautiful.

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: 14 year old daughter self-harming

Hey there @Rivers  

Thank you so much for coming back on and updating us about your daughter - it is incredible to hear what's happened since we last heard from you, and hearing that things can improve and move forward is so powerful for other parents going through tough times with their teens. 


What you said to your daughter made me  cry as i read it:  

"I'm so sorry that you feel in pain to the extent that you want to hurt yourself; it must be horrible for you. If you ever want to talk to me or to anyone else, you just let me know or write me a note, or let someone else know... it doesn't have to be me. You're a gorgeous girl and this is not your fault, it's something that is happening TO you, and you're doing a good job trying to wrestle with it. We're immensely proud of you. It is really tough to go through what you're going through."

What a beautiful compassionate response to your daughter's pain. 


I am really moved to hear how far your daughter has come, and that she is ready to go back to a new school for a fresh start. I can hear how painful and challenging the path must have been to get to where you are now, but what a great outcome. 


Thank you again for sharing. Heart