When a child deliberately self-injures it’s viewed as a method to communicate what cannot be spoken.
With self-harm, also clinically known as Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), the skin is the canvas and the cut, burn or bruise is the what illustrates the picture.
Most children who self-injure have difficulties with emotional expression. The clinical term for this experience is Alexithymia – and is defined as the inability to recognize emotions, their subtleties and textures, and difficulty understanding or describing thoughts and feelings.
Many children who self-harm struggle with internal conflicts, usually with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. They could also be struggling with emotional, sexual or physical abuse, eating disorders, gender identity or emerging personality disorders.
Children who engage in NSSI find it hard to verbalize feelings and, instead, act them out by self-injuring. Gender studies indicate girls self-harm more than boys. And other data shows non-suicidal self-injury can lead to deliberate suicide.
5 Tips for Reducing Self-Injury in Your Child
1) Create an emergency kit. Use a shoe box, plastic zip bag or other storage container to place positive items to use when an urge hits. Things like photos of friends and family, pictures of idols or heroes, inspiring quotes, uplifting notes, a journal for writing, markers or art supplies for creative expression, a beloved stuffed animal, a CD mix of upbeat music,…