How to Deal with Self-Harming Teenagers
Self-harming teenagers are those who intentionally injure themselves. This is a symptom of a bigger problem and not a disorder in itself.
Unfortunately, cases of self-harming teenagers have become quite common. Factors such as the family situation, social context, or excessive use of new technologies have contributed to the increasing number of cases.
Below, we’ll reflect on this problem that must be prevented in time, as it could lead to more serious situations. We’ll also investigate the causes of cases of self-harming teenagers and the possible ways to deal with them.
Self-harming teenagers are a family and a social problem. Not only due to the action itself, but because it can also be an early warning sign of a future suicide attempt or a mental disorder.
There are several factors that can lead to self-harm in young people. However, you must note that, regardless of the factors, all cases require professional help as soon as they’re detected. Only a professional can indicate which are the best ways to deal with the problem and give you a good solution.
Family factors that are conducive to self-harm in teenagers
Studies reveal that the following family factors can lead to self-harm in teenagers:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Suicide in the family
- Psychological disorders in immediate relatives
- Dysfunctional or unstructured families
- Communication problems and weak emotional bonds between parents and children
- Environments where anger, irritability, and emotional outbursts predominate
Addressing emotional distress in teenagers
The aforementioned factors lead to an emotional imbalance in young people and are therefore conducive to self-harm. So, hurting oneself is a wrong way to try to reduce one’s anguish.
In many cases, the signals can be so subtle that it’s hard to identify them with the naked eye. However, if you do, then identifying it is crucial. A good way to take care of this aspect is to ask yourself some questions.
- Is the teenager’s emotional communication respected, understood, and encouraged? The family could feel overwhelmed by its intensity and frequency at times.
- Or, on the contrary, do parents contribute to their child’s anguish with excessive criticism or involvement in their lives?
- Could the teenager be looking for ways to get their parents’ attention in order to meet their emotional needs? Or maybe to avoid parental demands?
In these family situations, research suggests that the more rejection or pressure there is from parents, the more anger and frustration a teenager will feel. This is why they deal with the problem as a challenge and show even more opposition to any proposals.
The social environment and new technology
In addition to the family context, other factors also lead to self-harm in teenagers. You must take emotional vulnerability into account in this important stage of change.
A teenager isn’t only more sensitive to their family situation, but also to their social environment. In this sense, there’s also an attitude of rebellion against the rules and imitation of their colleagues. This makes it easy for self-harm to be seductive.
Finally, we can’t forget the role of new technologies. For example, their excessive use can lead the teenager toward idealizing a virtual life in which violence predominates.
How to deal with self-harming teenagers?
We highly recommend professional support to find out what factors are affecting each individual. There are more and more prevention campaigns and programs at the educational and medical level inviting them to consult a psychologist.
Keep in mind that there could be a mental disorder in some cases. However, the increase in cases of self-harming teenagers shows that it’s very hard for them to manage their emotions most of the time. Therefore, the most important thing here is to seek professional help and follow up on it.
Finally, parents shouldn’t forget that a self-harming teenager is in deep pain and what they need the most is understanding — and affection. Listen to them, offer your hand, and maintain your calmness at all times. As you can see, other types of attitudes will only lead to more rejection and opposition on their part. This will only hinder any attempts to help them.