Cutting, burning, and other forms of self-injury are commonplace among American teenagers. There is no way to truly predict how many teens self-harm because most kids work hard to conceal their injuries. If your child is deliberately hurting himself or herself, you may feel shocked, disappointment, fear, or confusion. Understanding why teens self-harm will give you greater insight into the struggles your child is facing, and it will help you seek the help your teen needs now.
Self-Harm For Pleasure
The most common reason why teens self-harm is to cope with overwhelming emotions. Acts of self-injury temporarily release endorphins, opioids, and serotonin in a child’s brain, providing a sense of pleasure before the pain hits. Some people naturally feel more pleasure from cutting or burning than others, so your child may be using this as a tool to balance out negative emotions in his life.
Self-Harm For Punishment
Another reason why teens self-harm is because they feel like they deserve to be punished. For instance, a child who is constantly bullied at school may start to believe he is as worthless as the bullies claim he is. If your child’s grade slip due to emotional struggles, he may self-harm as punishment for disappointing you. Teenagers go through extreme hormonal changes that greatly impact their ability to process their emotions. Self-injury is just a potential byproduct of this turmoil.
Self-Harm For Communication
If a child is not getting the attention he or she needs, he or she may self-harm to signify the severity of his or her emotions. This does not mean that the root emotions are not real and are not worthy of concern. Those who go through with the self-injury typically have emotions that need to be addressed. You need to search for the deeper meaning behind the action and seek help.
Self-Harm For Suicide
Sadly, many teens use self-harm to attempt suicide. This is not to say that every act of self-injury is a suicide attempt. That is far from the case. Nevertheless, a deeper-than-usual cut on your child’s wrist may be an effort to end his or her life. This is why it is important to seek help at the early stages of self-harm, when possible, to conquer your teen’s struggles as quickly as possible.
Getting Your Teen The Help He Or She Needs
If your child is committing self-harm or you suspect he or she may try in the future, work with a teen counselor to tackle the emotions together. Your teen will speak to a counselor on an individual basis and in family counseling sessions with you and your spouse so you can all work toward a plan for recovery. Approach this process with an open mind, and you may be surprised by how much you learn about your child along the way.