my 15 year old daughter cuts herself. We are seeking professional help for this but I need help now. I want to go up to her and threaten her to make her stop. I want to take away things and punish her. I am so angry that she does this and she even thinks it's ok to do it. As she says, "lots of kids do it". I see her as a brat who is not getting her way with our house rules, so she has taken her anger to the next level. could this be true? I am also so embarrassed for our family. We live in a small community and she talks about it with her friends so people must know. Why hasn't anyone called me? Her friends parents? Why aren't the kids speaking up, if they know someone is doing this? I found out by reading her email and texts. Should I keep reading her private stuff? It makes me crazy to read but I feel compelled to do so. How can we trust her again? and how can she trust us? confused....
Take a deep breath, exhale, run around the block 20 times and then read up on what cutting (AKA "self injury") is about. Typically that is something done by a kid who is struggling with anxiety and/or depression as a way of medicating herself. When the skin is cut, the brain releases chemicals that temporarily help with the symptoms of anxiety and depression. So the last thing you want to do as a parent is to give your child more things to feel upset about (such as your own anger).
Instead, tell her that you are worried for her and that you now know that cutting is simply a symptom of her emotional pain. Ask her to do what she can to limit it, but do not yell or threaten. And get to that psychologist ASAP so that she/he can figure out better ways of helping your girl to feel better, and better ways of helping you to connect with her other than spying.
Dr. Mike Bradley
Thank you Dr. Bradley for that advise. I have taken and continue to take many deep breaths. Her response to cutting has to with stress but she is telling us, it is the stress we are putting on her by limiting her phone or asking her to do her homework or not letting her go to parties where there will be drinking. These rules cause her stress. Can parents really cause their own child to self injury under these circumstances? My daughter does have anxiety and has for a long time. It used to be she got headaches and now it's cutting..... could this be our fault? And if so how do we deal with feelings of guilt? Her choices around school, homework, food, sleep, computer use, exercise are so poor. Do we really back off and watch her slide down the hill?We go to therapy today..... thanks
Reasonable rules expressed calmly, firmly and lovingly do not make kids cut. Reasonable rules imposed with anger and derision can. Your counselor will do an assessment to see what the factors are in your kid's problem and help you as a family to address them.
Congratulations on getting help, and keep us posted.
Dr. Mike Bradley
Tags for this Thread