Discovering your adolescent is self-harming can be very confronting. It can bring up feelings of powerlessness, but there are things you can do to support your adolescent.
1. Listen without judgement
Adolescents who self-harm may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or frightened to talk about it. Therefore, it is essential to create a safe and non-judgmental environment that promotes open communication.
2. Help them identify triggers
Encourage your adolescent to identify what triggers their self-harming behaviour. These might be topics, situations or feelings. Support them in finding healthy coping mechanisms to deal with these triggers to replace the self-harming behaviour.
3. Encourage them to seek professional help
Self-harm can be a sign of underlying mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. Encourage the adolescent to seek professional help from a therapist, counsellor, or psychiatrist.
4. Teach relaxation techniques
Support your adolescent to learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation to help them manage their emotions and reduce anxiety.
5. Encourage positive self-talk
Encourage your adolescent to replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. This can help boost their self-esteem and reduce the urge to self-harm.
6. Provide a distraction
When the adolescent feels the urge to self-harm, provide them with a distraction such as going for a walk or doing a fun activity to take their mind off the urge.
7. Offer unconditional love and support
Finally, offer your adolescent unconditional love and support. Let them know that you are there to help them through this difficult time and that they are not alone.