Self Harm

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Active scribe

Self Harm

Hi

I am new to the site, I am delighted to have found the forum. I have a 12 year old boy who is generally very happy. Recently however he told me he hurts himself. He said it started when he was 5 when he scraped his nails down a wall and it made him shudder. To this day he will scrape plates or pottery to get the same effect. He says he does it to "annoy himself". He said since it started it has progressed to putting pressure on an area of his body that may have been hurt naturally, e.g. if he gets a pain in his tummy he will push it or if he gets a bruise from playing sport he will push on that. He will also tense his hands and his leg muscles and the latest is vigoursly rubbing his forearm on his leg or a table. I keep an eye on his body and nothing will go to the extent of tearing or breaking skin or bruising or even redness.

He says that he does this to annoy himself and he does it even when he is happy. He says the urge is very strong. He has told me that lately he has increased the amount of times he does it and he asked to speak with someone who can help him stop. We have been to a counsellor twice and we now use an elastic band. I felt we were making progress and we were beginning to understand the behaviour. Last night he said in a panicked voice that it is not working and he doing it more and more. I stayed calm and reassured him and promted him to use his band. He sat looking at me and he vigoursly rubbed his arm on his jeans. I felt by the look on his face that he was testing me to say "stop it" (which i never do). I normally say its ok to have the urge lets use the band. I added that i could not stop him from doing this and it was only him that could decide. He did stop and just went on chatting about something else and the topic didn't arise there after.

When he went to bed i collapsed on the couch as behind the so called calm exterior I want to scream stop do you know i am terrified. I am so worried this will progress to cutting or worse.

Other than this I would describe him as a happy, popular boy who is strong acedemically and in sport and does well in all areas. He is a very sensitive boy and finds it very difficult if others are mean to him. He was told alot by a boy last year that he was annoying and this deeply effected him. We are working on this with his councellor.

I would be so greatful for any advice. I feel better just to have written this down. Thank you for your time.
Mod

Re: Self Harm

Hey @Shortstuff2

Welcome to the forum! We are really glad to have you at ReachOut. 

That sounds like an incredibly difficult situation to be in, and I can't imagine how exhausting and stressful it would be as a mother to see your child in pain. 

 

There could be a couple of factors which might contribute to his behaviour right now. First I think it's super important to remember that any habits that we might have that we are trying to change, can be really difficult to shake. Remember that it's important to give your son room to fall off the horse, and that you can always keep trying to move forward. 

Another factor might be that children around this age often engage in testing rules and boundaries, and pushing the limits put on them . Potentially, you might be correct in thinking that your son was perhaps testing this boundary. 

I think that it's a really great idea that you keep working with and seeing your son's therapist. I also think it might be a really great idea if you think about taking some time to do your own self care and emotionally check ins. Raising a child can be very stressful for parents at the best of times, let alone when your child is going through some mental health issues. It's important to remember to take time and care of yourself, even if it's not your first thought at the moment. 

All the best!

Active scribe

Re: Self Harm

Hi Andrea-RO

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it. I have found it difficult that he has slipped back into it after initially decreasing the behaviour. It helps to know that I can be ok with this and actually expect it.

I also agree I need to mind myself more and I know that if I do I will be able to respond better.

Thank you again for your time.

Shortstuff2
Active scribe

Re: Self Harm

Hi

Just a question. This morning my son was drinking a cup of tea and he continuously scratched the bottom of the cup. He does this in order to get the noise that he says he uses to "annoy" himself. I casually offered an elastic band but he said "I am so weird" and continued to it. I didn't intervene further and turned my attention to something else.

Could you advise whether I should try and distract this low level behaviour or ignore it. He tends to increase it when I intervene. The reason I intervene it is that it can escalte to slighly more serious behaviour and his counsellor advises that he should his elastic band even if it is low level. He is a boy that very much likes to be in control and I think the mere suggestion from me increases the behaviour. I am puzzled as to what to do.

Thank you again for your time.
Mod

Re: Self Harm

Hi @Shortstuff2, I think this question is best explored with your counsellor. Have they instructed you to intervene? Have you discussed that your intervention seems to increase the behaviour? Have they explored the reasons underlying this behaviour from your son? Thanks for sharing and keeping us updated.
Active scribe

Re: Self Harm

Hi

I have been instructed to casually offer a band without fuss and to advise my son he does not have to fight the urge but to use the band. I haven't spoken to the counsellor about the testing behaviour as it is new. I hope to see her within the coming weeks if my son agrees to go again. He however is loosing faith in the process as he feels the band is not working.

The counsellor feels it is happening as she feels he is a very sensitive boys who strongly feels his emotions. He also was also bullied by a group of boys last year and this has knocked his confidence. This is not happening now but mext year he will be in the same school as these boys and so he is very worried. I would say also that he can get frustrated easily. It seems all this combined leads him to harm himself.

Thank you for taking the time to response. I will keep you updated.