The phase that a girl goes through as a teenager has always been difficult to understand by parents. In today’s day and age where technology plays such an important part in the lives of teenagers, social media makes living life as a young girl even more challenging. Sometimes, all it takes is a little understanding from the parents about their teenage daughter’s situation. Instead of accusing the child of being irresponsible and childish, try to understand the reasons why your teenage daughter is deliberately harming herself.
Why do teenage girls engage in self-harming?
There are many reasons why teenage girls resort to cutting themselves. One of the reasons is the inability to cope with a stressful life. School is a rollercoaster experience for any teenage girl. The need to study hard and get good grades while at the same time, trying to blend into the crowd by pretending to be someone else. There are also teenagers, who go through the feeling of being misunderstood and lost. They end up feeling angry and frustrated enough to start the impulse feeling of self-harm and the need to cut oneself.
Based on the statistics, it has been discovered that more teenagers have been engaging in self-harm. In Singapore, the Singapore Children’s Society reports that around 50 teenagers use the self-harm method to cope with either emotional stress or to get rid of their frustration. According to the Asia-Pacific Psychiatry Journal, in Malaysia, the number of teenagers that engage in self-harm have increased by 16 per cent. Some of the reasons include peer pressure and cyber-bullying.
Self-harm is not limited to only cutting, it is also head-banging, burning one’s skin and having the impulse to swallow poisonous chemicals. Teenagers use self-harm to express and deal with the internal pain and distress that they are feeling emotionally.
If you are concerned about the changed behaviour in your teenage girl and are wondering whether the marks on her arms are signs of self-harming, you can find out what she has been up to and what is bothering her. According to the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, here are the signs and behaviours that you need to watch out for below.
Signs that your teenage daughter is harming herself
- Mood Swings
- A sudden change in mood
- The need to isolate oneself from others
- Feeling Irritated
- Easily irritated at small things
- Visible marks of cuts and bruises
- The sight of cuts and bruises on the body with unknown cause
- The need to cover up the marks of bruises and cuts
- Using long sleeves and pants to cover up the marks
- Hiding sharp objects
- Keeping sharp objects on the sly to be used for the purpose of self-harming
Behaviours of teenagers that self-harm
- Self-harming the skin
- Through scratching, cutting or puncturing
- The urge to take poisonous substances
- Corrosive or toxic substances
- Taking medications for no reason
- Overdosing on medications
- Attempting to swallow sharp objects
- Self-harming intentionally
- Hitting the body or head against hard surfaces intentionally
- Using hard objects to self-harm the body or head
- Burning oneself
- With hot water, fire or a hot iron
- Forcefully pulling one’s hair
Helping a teenage daughter who self-harms
- Notice the difference in your child’s behaviour
- Look out for the signs that your child might be self-harming herself.
- Communication is key
- Express your concern if you have noticed that your child is self-harming herself.
- Offer to talk about it
- Let your daughter know that you have noticed the visible changes
- Be caring and concerned in a non-judgemental way
- Be more understanding
- Don’t jump to conclusions without knowing the full story.
- Choose to understand instead of blaming the child.
- Try to see your daughter’s point of view on why this is happening
- Do not scold or criticise your child
- Avoid getting judgemental and criticising your daughter
- Do not make any harsh comments to her
- Work together to figure out options of treatment
- Encourage your daughter that it’s time to get treated for this condition
- Assure her that you will be by her side every step of the way
- Be loving and caring enough so that the child will agree to seek help
Treatments for your daughter who self-harms
There are mental health professionals that are ready to help your child to get better. There is the process of going through therapy to understand the cause of self-harming. It is important that you are very supportive to your child during the phase of treatment. It is wise to get ahead of the situation and inform the school’s authorities about the mental state of your child. The school should be informed to prevent any concerning incident from happening when it comes to your daughter.