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My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

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My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Casual scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hi! Just wanted to write a quick response to all the comments here. I'm not a parent, but I'm a 16 year old and figured a teen's opinion might help here. 

When you're 13 and struggling with self-image/esteem issues and depression, it can be hard to figure out who you are. Teens find themselves through expressing themselves, whether that's through hobbies, trying different clothes, or things such as piercings and dying your hair.

Personally, I was never allowed to do anything to my hair or get any sort of piercings when I was 13. My parents tend to be extremely strict, (which I can assure you, is not always a good thing.)

I remember in eighth grade when a girl in my class got a second piercing on her ear. Right after she got it, almost every girl (including me) went out and got a second piercing too. Everyone had previously been too nervous to do it, and didn't want to be the first. So, when she got it and everyone liked it, we all went out and did it because we wanted to be "cool" too. 

Kids did things like that all the time, because they wanted to stand out. Girls would come to school with neon pink stripes in their hair, or wearing a crop top, or anything else that nobody else was brave enough to try. 

So, your daughter tattooing herself could just be another form of self-expression that she wanted to try out. I'll agree with you that 13 is too young to get a tattoo, considering you have to be 16 to get one at a professional salon. (with parental consent) That also could be the reason that she's constantly wanting to change the colour of her hair or get piercings. At 13, everyone wants something that will set them apart from others.

I've struggled with depression, anxiety, OCD, self-harming, and social anxiety for years. My parents were no help, since I never felt I could come to them with anything. They would tell me to open up, and I would, and they would punish me for feeling what I felt instead of giving me the support I needed. They said that they've given me food, clothes, and a house all my life, so why was I repaying them like this? This caused me to internalize everything I was feeling, shutting out my parents and only opening up to my friends.

I remember feeling like I had lost myself. When I was in the worst part of my depression I felt so numb and like I didn't know who I was anymore. During this time I did different things like always painting my nails black, cutting my hair, wearing different, darker clothes, and a bunch of other things. I never went as far as piercing myself or tattooing myself, but I did start self-harming. 

Believe it or not, I actually found myself through this. I wasn't exactly "goth", but I did start listening to alternative music and actually made great friends through it. They helped me through my struggles, and continue to do that to this day. Your daughter is probably just expressing herself through what she wears, does, and different things like that. If she comes to you with problems, please don't punish her for them (unless she did something actually bad like vandalism, shoplifting, etc.) Eventually she'll find herself, and things will start to balance out again. As someone who's gone through it, I can assure you of that.

I stopped self-harming awhile ago, and I had decided ages before that that if I could make it a certain amount of time without hurting myself, I would give myself a tattoo. I put plenty of thought into what i wanted to get, and made sure everything was sterile and safe before I did it. I'll admit that my parents don't know about it, but it has honestly been a great reminder of what I overcame, and the strength I gained along the way. 

So, in the end, while your daughter may be having a hard time right now, just remember that she's having as hard of a time with this as you are, if not harder. 


Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

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Hi there @ash3826, thank you for sharing your amazing experience - amazing to hear of how you've overcome so many challenges. The insights you share are really important, and I think parents and young people both have a lot to learn from each other! 
We do try to keep this forum as a space for parents to discuss their experiences though, and have a youth forum over here that would be wonderful for you to get involved in. 

I have sent you an email about this too Smiley Happy 

Frequent scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

ash3826 I enjoyed reading your post. Even through this is a forum for parents, your post  has given me some comfort that there is light at the end of the tunnel. At times I am filled with despair. I love my daughter and only want her to be healthy and happy. I am pleased that you yourself are doing well. 

In order to keep my daughter safe I have removed her from school and am home schooling her. I say safe ... meaning that school seems to have a lot do with her eractic behaviour and self harming. She is healthier in mind, but home schooling is a sacrifice for me.  It is not easy being a parent.  All the best

Star contributor

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hi @Worrisome,

Thank you for checking back in with us. Trying home schooling sounds like it might be a good option for your daughter. You mentioned feeling like school was not a safe place for your daughter- that must have been really tough to come to terms with. Was a lot of her self harming behaviours occurring at the school?


I hope that with the home schooling, her wellbeing continues to improve. How are you coping with the change to home schooling? I can imagine it would have meant some big changes in your routine too




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Super star contributor

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hey @Worrisome, I’m so glad to hear that home schooling has seen an improvement in your daughter’s mental health. That must be hugely relieving for you.

School wasn’t the right fit for my daughter either, and you’re so right, we just want to do what we can to see our kids happy and healthy.


It would be a big sacrifice for you. Are there any support groups for parents who home school? I was just thinking it might be a great place to find tips and suggestions to help make the prep etc a bit easier and more time efficient. 


Parenting is a tough job, and hope is so important but can get easily clouded by our worry and fears for our kids. I’m glad ash3826’s perspective has given you some hope back Smiley Happy


Active scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

I hope you still see these. My daughter is 15. I just found out that she let a friend tattoo her over a year ago. Much like you, I try to let my daughter express herself. She has been allowed a lot of freedom for self expression, and I have always trusted her. Not only am I hurt and upset that she did this and hid it. But there’s now even a chance she damaged her immune system with the tattoo method. Would love to understand more from you.
Super contributor

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hey @Eriamb, that must be really tough. How have you been managing the situation currently? How does your daughter now feel given it was a year ago now?
Super frequent scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hello Eriamb

It still upsets me to this day that my daughter tattooed herself not once, but multiple times.  Self taught on the internet U tube.  But they don't learn, a few months ago she saw on U tube how to remove the tattoos by rubbing salt onto the area until the skin is removed (must have been painful),,,, Still has the tattoos and now some nasty scar tissue.  She wants me to arrange laser treatment... But it is costly and from what I understand not completely successful. I cannot afford this at present and some nasty part of me wants her to live with her mistake.  (at least for a while longer)

The internet is the curse of the century.  Before all of this I thought it was only Porn that I had to worry about, but that is only the beginning


Super frequent scribe

home schooling

Hello @taokat

I was reading thru various posts and came across your post in October in regards to me having to resort to home schooling for term 3.  My daughter loved it.. No stress, no pressure.... She says she learn more at home in far less hours than at school.

Term 4 I enrolled her in a very small girls school for teens that are not suited to mainstream schooling.  The school and staff are excellent. But my daughter is not adjusting well... more school refusal, anxiety and anger issues whilst trying to get her to school.  She just lacks so much confidence and is so afraid that she cannot speak to anyone even when they approach her in a friendly manner.

However, she seems to be changing - showing interest in dog walks, gardening and art..... (less internet)

The school is having a positive effect on her... when she attends.

Two weeks ago she attempted suicide for the second time... Another couple of nights in hospital... though this time was impulsive and not premeditated.

Been on the roller coaster of emotions for over a year now... Here is to a hopefully better and brighter 2019...


Active scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Well, we have been at a loss in managing it. With my other kids, the loss of a cell phone or privileges would be the end of the world, however those don’t work with her. We have spoken to her, she understands our disappointment, but she hasn’t yet received any consequences.
She is still happy with the tattoo itself, as of now, no regrets (and it’s very hidden).