Our 13 year old girl has been gradually changing over the past 12 months, getting more withdrawn from her favourite activities and seeming to be down. We noticed she has stopped wanting to swim (previously one of her favourite activities). She also started to wear long sleeve shirts. Because she is embarrassed of the scars and wants to cover up, she is not doing much exercise and we are worried about her overall health.
She has struggled a little with friendships over the years. Also, our marriage as been difficult and so she has seen and heard too much conflict.
Eventually I approached her and asked if she has been self-harming as I had been reading about that and we had seen some sharp objects in her room. She admitted that she had and although she didn't show us, we have seen some scars on her left arm and also I think somewhere near her groin area. We don't think she is having suicidal thoughts (and that is what she says to us).
Last year she went to see a psychologist we arranged for her but did not like the sessions and so stopped. We have spoken to a few psychologists by phone. She is not comfortable with the school counsellor. She says she wants to talk to someone but we are not sure who the right person is. She is a sensitive type who keeps so much inside. My wife and I feel it is so much our fault for mistakes over many years.
We feel that some of this was made worse by our mistake letting her watch too much on her ipad. She got into goth culture and heavy music and became aware of all the gender issues everyone is talking about. She now seems to be stressed about her gender identity and so that is also part of her struggle and all connected.
1. My first question is whether we should be monitoring her self harm by asking to look at her scars and how much to insist to see them (or take her to a doctor). We are so worried that she will have some serious injury or lifetime scars from this but one psychologist told us it's probably best not to push to check them. I feel like I would like either us or a doctor to take a look at them from time to time but she doesn't feel comfortable showing anyone. When I ask she says she is not doing lately but II think she probably still does sometimes. How hard to we push to find out what she is doing and how often?
2. Should we be actively checking her room for sharp objects? She will be very resistant if she thinks we are checking her.
3. About seeing psychologists, my wife and I are both hesitating because we are scared she might be labelled and see herself as something wrong with her (even more than she already probably does). I have seen kids go to psychologists for years and years and often they don't seem to make that much progress but rather get a bad self image of themselves.
I am sorry this is so long. We honestly don't know where to start with help for our wonderful, talented and sensitive child.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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