Recently in a video clip from Jada Pinkett Smith’s new show, Red Table Talk, airing on Facebook, her daughter Willow Smith admits to having a period in her life when she was cutting herself when she felt stressed. To paraphrase, Willow said she felt like she lost her sanity during that time and was in a dark hole. In many ways she should be applauded for shedding light on a frequently unaddressed topic among teens.
Many teens do not feel comfortable sharing about practicing self-harm or even experiencing thoughts of self-harm. On the show Willow discusses the issue with her mom and grandmother. The two adults appear to be surprised yet they listen attentively and seemingly without judgement or anger. Often teens will not share their negative experiences in life because they fear facing negative reactions from their parents or caregivers.
Here are some things you can do if your child is cutting or practicing self-injury:
Identify Self-Injury: Teens practicing self-injury may practice cutting or other methods. Other forms of self-injury may involve burning, pulling hair, scratching repeatedly, or biting. Boys and girls may practice self-injury.
Assess and Don’t Assume: If you discover that your child is cutting or practicing some other method of self-injury don’t automatically assume it is because they are severely depressed or suicidal. Assess the situation by asking open-ended questions. “How long have you been cutting?” “When you do cut?” “What triggers this action?”
Talk: You may feel extremely emotional when you find out your child has been hurting themselves. Try to find a time when you are both calm to discuss the situation. Ask the teen about the stress he/she feels he/she has in their life. Sometimes teens use cutting as a coping skill. It may release endorphins and bring a good feeling. He/she may not have fully thought out the fatal consequences that could occur.
Seek Help: Seek the help of a trained psychotherapist for your teen. Having someone who is trained in dealing with mental health concerns is a priority once you have identified your child is cutting. In therapy your child will learn coping skills, stress management skills, and work on building self-esteem. A therapist can help determine if your child needs more intensive treatment.
If you need help for your teen who is practicing self-injury or would like to consult with a therapist about your concerns for your teen, please feel free to call Path To Hope Counseling. Call today to make your appointment, 919-618-6526 or email email@example.com.