(birds chirping) So today’s topic is something for the parents. Are you ready parents? Do I hear you? This is my first of many videos catered to parents, and the topic today is: What do we do as a parent when we know our child self-harms? So like I said today I’m gonna talk about what to do as a parent when you know that your child is self-harming.
And I’m gonna give you five easy, quick tips on how to best handle this. Now, sometimes we find out about self-harming by accident. Maybe we find something, or we catch them doing it, or we see open cuts and we ask about it.
But other times our child has come to us and told us about it, and asked for help. So, some of these may be more helpful than others, depending on how you stumbled on upon this fact. But the first is, the most important: Listen, and don’t judge.
I know that can be really difficult. It’s hard to even understand why this is happening. But most likely, If you yourself are sitting down and you’re watching this video, It’s usually not your fault.
I know that children can do a lot of things. They can be very upset, and we can have different mental illnesses and that’s not always the parent’s fault. Because you’re actually watching this, it means that you really want to help.
And it’s important that your child feels that you’re hearing them, you’re taking time to listen to them, and you’re not jumping to conclusions. Let them tell you why they do it. Let them tell you what they need from you.
Let them speak. take your time, listen, and do your best not to judge a situation before you have all the information. The second, is to ask them what they need from YOU. Often times, I know that a lot of my viewers, who are younger, will talk about telling their parents and they don’t even know how to start, or, “what do I say?” “I don’t know, it makes me really anxious” And really, as parents, I hear from a lot of the parents that they just want to know how to help, or what to do, “what do they need from ME?” So ask them, “what can I do to help you?” and make sure, please, please, please get them professional help.
If they have open wounds that are very large, and may need stitches, please get them to a doctor to get those checked out. Also, look into a therapist in your area. CBT therapy, DBT therapy, those are all great resources, and just talk therapy in general can be so healing for those of us who struggle with self-harm urges.
The third tip: is don’t think that cutting is happening all day every day, or that it will automatically stop (snaps) when we decide to tell you about it. It’s a process, it’s not perfection. I say that all the time in my videos because it’s the truth.
Because, the urges will still be there, and they can come up, and they can go away, and they can come back up, and they can go away. But working on recovery, knowing your child is trying their hardest to better understand why they self-harm, what purpose it’s serving for them.
We often use self-harm as a coping skill for something else going on. And being in therapy can help us figure out what the link is and why we’re self-harming, and we can work to lessen these urges and lessen the number of times that we’re cutting ourselves on, let’s say, a monthly basis.
But it’s a process, not perfection. Let them know that you’re with them through this, and that it won’t just go away over night. Now the fourth, and this may be the most important to my viewers, is: checking in with them.
Not hounding. I know it’s hard when you worry that your child is suffering and you think that maybe you had something to do with it, or maybe you didn’t and you just don’t understand, and you just worry all the time because I know I heard from many parents during my New York visit and especially on my trip to Elgin, Scotland, that it’s hard as a parent to even recognize that your child has something that they’re struggling with, that has a mental illness, or does self-harm, or has an eating disorder.
Whatever, however you want to call it, it’s hard to just admit that. Because you want their life to be easier than you ever had it. You want to make their path clear, and so much better than whatever else you may have come from.
And so, we tend to hound, because we care. But I hear from my viewers, from the younger generation, that it’s better if you just check in. Let’s say, once an evening you come in, you knock on their bedroom door, or whatever, and you just say, “I just wanted to check in and see how therapy went, see how you’re doing.
I’m here if you want to talk.” And you walk away. I know it’s hard but it tends to give the best outcome. Now the fifth and final tip: Work with them! We can work together. There are DBT workbooks that there’d be using if they were in therapy.
I have some things on my website available to them. I have a free self-harm workbook on KatiMorton.com. Work with them. Learn with them. There are techniques that they’ll learn like distraction techniques and mindfulness.
Practice it as a family. I know that sounds really silly, but we can all benefit from it. Trust me. I benefit from a lot of therapeutic tools that I use every day. Because it helps us slow down our reaction time to situations, helps us better communicate as a family, and I feel that everyone can benefit, and also, knowing that everyone else is working on it can make the person that’s utilizing it in therapy not feel so isolated, not feel so weird, to know that we all struggle with things.
It’s hard to communicate. It’s hard to talk about how we feel all the time. And so if everyone’s working on it, it just brings a whole different feeling to the family. I know this is hard. I know it can be very scary, and we’re afraid that they may try to commit suicide, we don’t know what self-harm means.
But the most important, like I said, is just to listen to them. They will tell you what’s going on. As long as we seek to understand, instead of judge, the more information that we’ll get from them and the better our communications will grow, and our relationship will grow.
So, use these tools. Let me know what you think. Leave comments below. Give it a thumbs up if you’d like more videos about parents and what parents can do. And if you, yourself are struggling to talk to your parent about it, maybe share this video.
Maybe shit down and watch it together. Let me know what you think! I hope that you like these videos, because I think they’ll be very helpful. Subtitles by the Amara.org community