Self-Harming In Teens – Safety Guidelines That Parents Must Know


Self-harming tendencies among teens could be a sensitive subject for their parents as well. Through this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive idea about its causes and some guidelines you may want to follow if you are a parent/guardian. The complexity of the issue requires it to be looked into carefully.

What Is Self-Harming? What Are Its Causes?

Often referred to as deliberate injury or self-mutilation, it involves individuals harming themselves without any intent to commit suicide. The common methods could include burning, cutting, scratching, hitting, or biting. These extreme steps are often taken due to emotional distress in individuals. One could see that self-harming is rampant among teens more than ever.

Self-Harming In Teens Causes

According to the statistics, one in four teens opt to cause themselves Non-suicidal self-injury. Not only are the numbers alarming but also need to be looked closely into. The primary causes could be

  • Emotional distress- During adolescence, hormones often run haywire and they could be subjected to all kinds of emotional distress. Moreover, external factors like parental pressure, high expectations of society, and academic burden weaken their shoulders and they are hardly able to get over it.
  • Peer Pressure- Looking at your peers who are excelling when you are spiraling could be extremely difficult and heartbreaking for young lives.
  • Seeking control- As they see things working around them knowing that they cannot control any part of it makes them sadder and disheartened. So they could be taking up self-harm just to control the injury itself.
  • Communication- Teens are not the easiest people to talk to. Neither do they often express themselves in front of adults. The buildup pressure comes out in the form of harm which is their call for people to notice how much in pain they are.

Safety Guidelines For The Parents

To curb the case of teen self-harming cases, parents must make sure to follow these guidelines.

  • Foster a supportive environment- Make yourself available to your children not just physically but also emotionally. Try listening, responding, and empathizing with them. Be wary of their struggles too. Additionally, make sure you validate their feelings. Accept that they could also face challenging situations in their life. Make sure the household has some boundaries like no shouting or fighting but rather discussing. Your child’s self-worth lies with your acknowledgment. Accept it if that is the case and acknowledge them as much as possible.
  • Teach coping skills- Guide your teens to approach problem-solving constructively rather than resorting to self-harm. Help them find a way to regulate their emotions. A yoga class or even meditation could go a long way. Suggest healthy hobbies like painting or drawing which can calm down the nerves. You can also help your child create a toolkit in case a problem arises.
  • Early intervention- An eye on warning signs and notice any personality changes in your kid. This could be a shift in sleep patterns or even a decline in their academic performance. If you notice any signs of self-harm, don’t panic or question them about it. Try to connect them with a child psychologist if possible. You could also be a silent listener if nothing else works. This could help them break the pattern of self-harm.
  • Mental health education- Educate your teenager about mental health problems. Ensure that they don’t believe it is a stigma and that help is always a phone call away. You could ask them to identify a behavioral change by themselves. Ask them to reach out.
  • Monitor their online activities- This might seem like snooping around but being aware of your teen’s online interactions is extremely important. Negative influences or harmful content could create an unhealthy environment for them.  If they want to be part of a community, make sure they are positive and cultivate appropriate behavior.

Also Read: Understanding Teen Depression And Strategies To Help Overcome 


Self-harm in teenagers can undermine society as a whole. Incorporating these safety guidelines in your parenting techniques could prevent unnecessary cases of self-harm in your household. Make them feel protected and safe inside their home. However, you should be patient with them. Don’t expect them to open up suddenly but give it time by earning their trust and assuring that you can be of genuine help.

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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