Discovering that your teenager is engaging in self-injury can be confusing, frustrating, and terrifying. Self-harm is common among teens. But, with support, the majority of teens learn healthier coping skills and stop their habit. Helping teens who cut themselves is important to prevent them from totally losing it and possibly putting their lives in danger.

What Constitutes Self-Injury?

Self-injury is any deliberate action that a person doses to intentionally cause physical pain. This behavior is quite common among adolescent females who hurt their bodies to try to deal with tough feelings or situations. The most common form of self-injury is cutting or scratching with sharp objects such as razor blades. Other teenagers, who have this behavior also burn or bite their skin, hit their chest or extremities, pull their hair from their head, bang their head against the wall, or re-open wounds.

Reasons Why Teenagers Cut Themselves

Teenagers who hurt themselves are not crazy. In fact, just because they cut themselves automatically means they are suicidal. Rather, cutting themselves means they have a problem coping with their pain in a healthy way. Their action offers a temporary sense of emotional relief and control. These teens may feel they can control the pain better. Thus, a stressed-out teenager may cut their arm to relieve stress.

Helping Teenagers who Cut Themselves Cope

If you suspect your teenager is deliberately injuring themselves, you need to intervene. This can help you begin a discussion and seek professional help for them. Ask your teenager if they are engaging in self-harm. Just keep in mind that your goal is to help your teen and not to judge or punish. Also, it is important to acknowledge your child’s pain. Do not pass judgment or tell your child to stop. After validating their feelings, express concern that they should be feeling bad if they hurt themselves.

Moreover, to help your self-harming teen, identify activities they can do when they feel the urge to hurt themselves. These can include drawing, singing, going for a walk, dancing, calling a friend and other healthy ways to express their feelings.  Make sure to take steps to change the self-harming behavior of your child. Consult with their doctor to get a referral to a therapist. Contact a mental health expert to teach your child healthier ways to regulate their emotions. Finally, talk to trusted friends and family who can help your teen cope with stress and minimize their self-injury.