Are you the parent of a child who cuts themselves? I had never heard of this until my daughter cut herself the first time. She was twelve. That was fifteen years ago. I was shocked, scared out of my wits and clueless. I had no idea how to help her.
Cutting. It’s a form of self-injury also called self-harm or self-mutilation. Other forms are burning, hair pulling, breaking bones, picking sores or wounds, eating disorders and biting the tongue or inside of the mouth. I’ve also learned that tatoos are yet another form, only it’s controlled. You’re just paying someone else to do it for you, so it feels more acceptable.
Have you wondered if there was anything you could do to help your son or daughter? The following information is from a counselor. There may be some helpful ideas here you could share with your child. You might want to print the main content and give it to them to read. Make a copy for yourself and keep it nearby to reference when needed.
Here is a Word of hope for you mom or dad: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped.” (Psalm28:7a) NIV
He will help you find your way through this difficult time. Please email me if you’d like more resources to find help for this issue.
Like all urges, the urge to cut will pass if you wait it out. Distracting yourself with something else helps pass the time and gets your mind off the need to hurt yourself. The more you wait out the urge without giving in, the more your urges will decrease over time.
Things to Soothe and Calm You
Sometimes people cut because they’re agitated or angry — even though they may not recognize that feeling. If that’s true for you, it can help to do something calming when you feel the need to self-injure.
Even if you’re not sure why you’re cutting, it’s worth giving these ideas a try while you wait for the urge to pass:
- call a friend
- play with a pet
- take a shower or a bath (make sure you don’t have razors)
- listen to soothing music that will shift your mood
- try a breathing or relaxation exercises
- go for a walk, run or bike ride
- watch TV or a movie (change the channel if the show gets upsetting; choose a funny movie)
- drink a glass of water; change your activity; go into another room than where you currently are when you’re thinking about cutting; shift your focus onto something else
If you still feel the need to hurt yourself try these activities:
- Hold an ice-cube on the area you would typically cut.
- Mark on yourself with a red pen or maker; nail polish can also be used in the places they would have cut.
Talking to a counselor is the best option for help, but these ideas can help you in between appointments.
There is help and there is hope. Never give up on yourself.
If you haven’t seen a counselor yet, why not try? What can it hurt? Only give them a fair chance. Meet with the same counselor at least 3 or 4 times before you decide you don’t like them. But don’t give up on this process too soon. It’s common for people to meet with several different counselors before they find the right one. You aren’t weird. It’s normal. Finding the right chemistry takes some effort but it’s worth it in the long run.
You’re worth it.