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Self harming

Community Member

I recently discovered my teen is self harming i discussed it with her but she said I should not call her out on it and that she still wants to be left alone in her room. The harm itself is minor but the idea of her being so sad that it leads to this, breaks my heart. 

She has stated seeing a psychologist so she is getting support but in the meantime I don’t know what to do.


if I respect her wishes of being left alone I worry she’ll do it again, but if I don’t listen our relationship will suffer and the slim line of communication we have may vanish.


please help. 

5 Replies 5

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Arcticbutterfly~

I have read about your 13 year old daughter in your previous thread Scared Mum of Teen and I would imagine you feel caught between being overprotective and wondering if that will ruin your relationship, or if you should stand back and hope your daughter does not really harm herself.


That's a horrible choice to have to face. One good thing is that now she is seeing professional help.


Actually I think yur relationship must be a pretty good one, many young people would never tell their parents they were self harming or that life was not worth living.


While it is true that many things can be hard to face it might be worth pointing out that in the  wildlife park the animals that pass away do so in the best of circumstances, possibly due in part to her efforts.


I know you love her and want to do everything you can, however you would need both direction and support for yourself. It is incredibly stressful to go though what you are.


I can suggest in relation to information and advice the Kids Help Line Parents Section deals with self-harm and also has a help line.


For support for yourself you might consider giving one of our own friendly councilors a ring on our own Help Line a ring on 1300 22 4636.


I really do feel for you (and your daughter) and if you felt like letting us know how you go that  would be very welcome



Thank you Croix, I really appreciate your kind words. 
I will definitely check out the services you suggested. 
I have found a parent coaching service through Beyond Blue helpline which is helping.


To be fair my daughter didn’t tell me she was self harming, I saw the signs and called it out. She was very upset and told me that calling it out was very bad but I replied she was too important for me to ignore something like this. While upset she understood where I was coming from. 
I don’t know if I did the right thing calling it out but I just could not pretend I hadn’t seen it. I did it calmly and from a place of concern, not at all anger.


since then, we have had several conversations about my fears, her reasons and her need to be alone and why I am reluctant. 
she has also suggested that we do a Q&A session where I can ask her anything about it, though she will be able to choose what she answers. I look forward to that.


in the meantime we have tried to brainstorm a few alternative strategies to help her cope when she gets so low. Hopefully she’ll be able to use those instead, while the psychologist helps her through why she feels that way in the first lave. 

Thank you so much and I will update our (hopefully) progress.

Dear Arcticbutterfly~

I don't know if you daughter will feel this, I hope she does. There is often a great deal of relief in somebody else knowing about such things. Being 'called out' might initially cause someone to say "I wish you had not" but that can quickly fade away. It's in the open, one is not alone, and another person might actually help.


Your daughter is lucky to have such a sensible and caring person as yourself as a mum and I'm sure things will improve.


I remember a long time ago telling my wife I was suicidal, and that changed everything, I was no longer battling on alone  - which I had been for a long time - and feeling guilty about it. Now I had somewhere to turn.


The Q&A sounds attractive, however may I suggest you hold off for a little while until you know what you want to ask - I doubt it is just what instinct dictates. I'm not sure the most obvious questions such as "why do it" are going to be the most productive. I would imagine while it might be an information gathering exercise for you just as importantly your daughter needs to see it as a comfort.


Perhaps as part of that she needs to be able to Q&A you too


I think I'd get more advice first, though that of course is just me, you are the best judge of your daughter's feelings.


This is about as stressful a time for a parent as it gets, and nobody can face everything every day going on and on, so may I ask what suppport you have? A family member, friend or councilor perhaps? Trying to keep on going in isolation is hard.



Thank you, I do hope that not feeling alone will help her. 
for the Q&A I did say that I appreciate the offer and it would help me but I also acknowledged it’d be hard for her and asked what she would gain from it. She said she’d feel better if I felt better. And that’s her through and through. She even started worrying if her offloading her problems to her psychologist would make them feel bad!!

 Anyway, I have written out a list of questions and they are more around what thoughts she has immediately before engaging in self harm and if she thinks she may be able to divert to a more positive coping technique. 

Today she spent the day at the wildlife sanctuary where she volunteers and came back much happier so I didn’t bring up any self harm discussion. I’m sure there’ll be other times for that.


Thanks for suggesting I get help. I am doing that through a parent coaching service, plus I have my partner (my daughters dad) and a couple of friends I can talk to. 

thanks again for your insight. I really appreciate it!

Dear Arcticbutterfly~

It made a great deal of difference to me once I'd told my wife. I am not sure if it was because I was happy wiht myself by breaking out and telling someone my most closely guarded secret, or becuse I was now no longer alone and did not have ot bear all hte burden by myself. Maybe a bit of both.


I would be most surprised if your daughter did not feel some of this too. She sounds a lovely caring person.


You talked about raising the subject of self harm - and not doing so because she was in a happy state. That sounds pretty sensible.


I would think that if she can be persuaded to  bring the subject up herself when she feels overwhelmed with the urge to hurt herself it might stop her as she will be talkng frankly to someone she trusts instead.


It may well  be hard on you to hear her thoughts which is one reason I'm glad you are getting that  parent coaching service as well as support from your husband and friends.


You realy are doing a fine job.