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Overwhelmed Nana

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NettaMarie

Overwhelmed Nana

We have custody of our 12 year old granddaughter. She has been with us for 11 years. Two years ago she began to harm herself, grades were dropping, she had no motivation to get up and go to school. We took her to a counselor and gradually things started to get better about 8 months ago. But about 3 weeks ago she harmed herself again. She barely talks to me. I try to set boundaries that are not respected. I’m very concerned. I don’t know how to handle this. Could use some advice. Thx
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Taylor-RO

Re: Overwhelmed Nana

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Hi @NettaMarie,

Thank you for sharing. We're really sorry to hear that you're in such a difficult position with your granddaughter. It sounds like you're really doing all you can to get your granddaughter the support she deserves. It is great that you were able to take her to a counsellor and that things began to improve. Is she still seeing a counsellor? It might be helpful to explore what has changed lately that might have lead her to self harm again. You could also revisit what was helpful about seeing the counsellor and whether your granddaughter is still implementing these tools. It is also not uncommon for teenagers to lapse or relapse when it comes to self harm but it is very reasonable to be worried about what might be happening behind the scenes, so it is great that you have made this post today. We have an article here on self harm which might explain a few things. 

If you're ever worried about the safety of your daughter, we encourage you to call local emergency or crisis services.

This whole situation must be really stressful and worrying for you as her family member and carer. We can imagine that it would take a toll on you overtime. Do you have your own support at the moment? 

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NettaMarie

Re: Overwhelmed Nana

Good afternoon,
 
Thank you so much for your response.  There have been no counseling sessions over the last 3 months - she was doing so much better.  But I have an appointment scheduled on 2/1.  I am suspicious about the trigger - her mother rarely communicates with her.  She received a gift box from her mother over Christmas.  But the card enclosed made reference to a belated birthday gift rather than a Christmas gift.  Harm was inflicted prior to the arrival of the gift box - but I'm thinking that perhaps her mother reached out via text and announced that something was forthcoming.  She really spiraled after the gift box was received.  She was depressed, lethargic, complained of tummy aches and had no desire to go to school. I tried to get her to share her feelings with me but had no luck.  After a while I approached her and told her that I had made an observation - that I had observed a change in her personality after the gift box was received.  I asked her if her feelings were related to this.  She admitted that it was.  But that's as far as it went. So, I just hugged her, told her I loved her, I understood and was here if she needed me.
 
I could use some advice on the best methods of approach so I can get her to talk to me.  I feel so inadequate.  
 
There are other issues as well - such as effective and appropriate consequences for misbehavior.  I try to set boundaries - but don't want to be too rigid.  She's a very headstrong young lady - the kind that will do exactly what you tell her not to do.  She always wants to know why a rule has been implemented or a request has been denied.
 
I wish I had a degree in child psychology!  She's wearing me out.
 
Prolific scribe
Blake-RO

Re: Overwhelmed Nana

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Hi @NettaMarie 

Thank you for sharing more about your situation. It sounds like you have been tremendously supportive and have done a great job of being there for her and getting her the help she needs. It is clear how much she means to you and she is very lucky to have someone like you in her life.
It is understandable how challenging this all must be for you, I was wondering if you have any support or if you’ve been able to talk to anyone about this, whether it be family, a friend, GP or mental health professional? I’m mindful of the impact this must be having on you and want to remind you that you don’t have to do this alone and there are support and services available if you need.
It is good to hear that you have booked a counselling session, it sounds like this was really helpful for her previously. I was wondering if there was a way for you to be involved in these counselling sessions to some degree so that you can learn about and be aware of your Granddaughter's triggers, self-soothers and boundary setting strategies so that you can support her in these ways specifically?

I know that you mentioned you were looking for some advice on how you could get her to talk to you more about this and wanted to let you know that we have an article on effective communications and teenagers which might be helpful to have a read through. It includes some information along with a list of things to try. I’m sorry that you are feeling inadequate and want to remind you that these are really difficult concerns to navigate and it sounds like you have been doing everything you can to support your Granddaughter – even by reaching out shows how much you care and want to support her through this.

I was wondering if it may be helpful to create a safety plan together? Or maybe you can get some support from the counsellor on creating one together. We have some suggestions here that might help guide this conversation.