Self-harm in kids: How you can help

(15 ratings)
Dealing with trauma

What can I do to help?

If you've got to a stage where you know that your child is hurting themselves it's important to not be critical. They're likely to know that what they're doing isn't good and that they need to stop - you telling them won't help.

Tell them that you understand they're distressed. Make sure they know that you're really concerned about them both physically and because you don't want them to feel sad or not be able to talk to you.

Under no account make them feel like they're 'crazy'. You might well need to get expert help but make sure it's not the first thing you bring up. For a teenager, or someone even younger, the thought of talking about what they're doing with someone they don't know is likely to be embarrassing and awkward and could make them even more agitated.

You need to know that recovery is likely to take a long time. You can't make a self-harmer promise you that they won't do it again. Letting them know that you're worried and that you want to help is OK but they need to work through this themselves and learn to deal with emotions, not be scared to feel them.

Further help and information

Info Line (9:15-5:15 Mon to Fri): 0845 766 0163
Lots more in-depth information on self-harming and helpline numbers to call.

National Self Harm Network
Survivor-led organisation supporting people who self-harm
A website for young people that self-harm

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Helpline: 08457 90 90 90
An organisation to provide 24-hour help to anyone that needs it.

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I'm a teenager who self harms, and so far no one knows about it. I stumbled upon this and all I can say is it's beyond accurate. From my experience (everyone's different) I tried leaving clues for my parents, even as far as leaving blade-less pencil sharpeners around or wearing shorts that just showed my faded scars, I even started cutting in places where I couldn't hide easily (like the inside of my arm. It can only be seen when I lift my hand). Could parents please look a little closer!! You have no idea how much I want them to find out, but I can't say anything because I'm too scared. Who knows if your child is subtly trying to show you as well, and all I can say is finding out via an 'accident' is going to make us 'telling' you so much easier. I know it doesn't make sense, but it's how I feel in my situation.

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