I have been so worried about my sweet little girl. A little background: My husband (her father) took an intentional overdose of pain pills when she was three years old. I don't know if this is related, but she is now 6 years old and started hurting herself last year when she would get overwhelmed with emotion. The first thing I would see would be for her to begin shaking and gritting her teeth really hard. Then she would scratch herself really hard on her arm from her wrist to her elbow. Another place she scratched herself was on her thigh.
I began taking her to a counselor, which helped a little, although I don't think the counselor was well trained in self-harm and I don't think she was taking it as seriously as I was. I was VERY worried and still am. My main concern is that if she is starting this young that she may progress to more serious methods of self-harm when she's a teenager. My daughter improved tremendously and we talk a lot about what she can do when she feels overwhelmed (she keeps a squishy ball in her desk at school, she uses scribble paper, she punches a pillow). We also read books about emotions and talk about healthy ways to express emotion.
The reason my concern has arisen again is that after several months of no scratching, her teacher noticed she had scratch marks on her arm. I've had some serious back problems and have missed a lot of work and have had many doctor appointments - she may be fearing she will lose her other parent as well.
Any thoughts on what a parent can do to help?
I've never posted on this board so hi,
When i was a kid i had sh issues, and still do, i use a small pointy object, such as a tack, to poke... and bite my fingers when i feel extreme emotion, or none at all, I would make sure your daughter knows she can come to you for anything, and that it is ok to "not feel anything", because sometimes people sh to feel something. Sh is usually *for me at least* a way to release a bunch of pent up emotions, so i would just sit down with her and ask her how she feels, and if she is upset, or angry.
Hi LVNV welcome, although I know this is not the board that people want to be particularly wecomed to.
I'm so sorry that you're having to go through so much distress and worry in addition to your loss and physical pain. I started cutting when I was 10 or so and had no mother to worry about me, she was too busy worrying about herself, so at amost 40 I still cut myself pretty badly most of the time. 4 trips for stitches since July. So the fact that you care enough to get your precious daughter help is just incredibly great. You're a great mom, sorry couldn't help but say that again! I've found over the years that the best doctor to see for Self Harm/Self Injury is a Psychologist/Therapist. Psychiatrist's are great and I also have BiPolar Disorder so I have one of each, but a tdoc *therapist* tends to deal with handling the alternative coping skills needed to change the self harm idealities. Pdocs *Psychiatrists* tend to not have as much background in this field as there aren't really many meds that help with this. Seroquel and Klononpin can help some, but these are hardcore drugs for a child of that age. It may be hard to find a child tdoc that deals with this, but even an adult tdoc could help your daughter, if they're willing. You're using the right tools in teaching your daughter alternative coping skills, and there are quite a few more out there. Alot of these are ones that you and your tdoc come up with and y'all learn together, then the "self harmer" has to learn to discipline themselves to use the alternative skill instead of the easy one which is self harm.
I know this all sounds incredibly overwhelming and very hard, but it can be learned and you daughter is at that young age where they are like sponges so it would be better for her to learn it now and get the behaviours under control.
If you have any questions, I'll be glad to help you if I can, and I wish you well in your search for the right treatment.
Oh, thank you all so much for your support. You have no idea how much it means to me. I've felt so worried and guilty over the time I was grieving the loss of my husband and hope I haven't caused my daughter to hurt herself. When you wrote that I'm a good mom, you have no idea how much that meant to me.
She has had a better week at school and the teacher has said she's been coping better when getting frustrated. Perhaps a psychologist is best? How can I find one who has some training in self injury? I'm concerned that if I don't find a good one, it could end up being more harmful than helpful. Does that make sense?
Again, thank you so much for sharing your stories and ideas.
If you have insurance then your insurance plan should have a website where you can do a search for in network or out of network. The only way to really find out if the have SH/SI skills are to call and ask. They will not have a problem talking with you on the phone, and a lot of time if they don't they can reccomend someone that does. Call that person, talk to them for a bit on the phone, you should be able to get a feel for how you feel for them. What I do, and I'm just really particular, because I have to see a ton of docs, when I find a doc I'm going to use, I do a background check on them through intellius.com, just to see how they are and if they have any records, etc. If everything is copecetic then I make an appt. Usually you would go in for a Parents meeting first and then if everything sits well with you, your daughter would go for an appt. Try to search for child psychologist, but if you can't find one, then just look for a psychologist and look for one that works with children.
Let us know if you have anymore questions, please don't hesitate, I'll do anything in the world to save a child from going down the path that I have and preventing them from all the pain and suffering.
Your daughter seems very angry and frustrated. She does not know how to express how she is feeling. AND she does not understand all of these things that has happened to the adults in her life that are suppose to be caring for her. She is scared to death. A child's worst fear is abadoment. When stability is shakin up, then all these fears are brought up to the surface again for her.
Your little girl needs help expressing her feelings. Sadness, fear, hurt, lonliness, anger. SHe needs healthier ways of coping. Somtimes a child will Pull out their own hair , out of frustion.
Who knows, what could happen when she becomes older? It is better to teach her better ways of coping NOW . Because when older it can get worse if she has not learned them by then. And she will have acsess to more dangerous methods of self destructive behaviors.
Find a child specialist . Child Psycholigist .One who has dealt with child who have self harmed . Remember that Self harm is a behavior. And it can be treated. Your going to have to stay calm though, and supportive. Not of the self injury, but of your little girl. She needs to feel accepted, loved, and know that she is the greatest little girl on earth. She needs lot's of posititve's in her life right now, and help her feel good about herself .
Yes, thank you so much. Last year, my daughter actually DID pull out her hair. It was the first evidence of self-harm I'd witnessed and it terrified me. She had gotten in trouble for something, looked straight at me, grabbed a handful of hair and ripped it out of her head. I tried to remain calm because something told me she was really hurting and needed support. I started counseling with her soon after that. As I said, the counselor did a good job working with her on other coping strategies, but I don't think she really understood sh or believed that she would possibly begin to engage in further sh as a teen. I will take your advice and really research child psychologists to find one who has worked with children that sh.
I am a parent too. I wish you the very best for your precious little daughter. One can never predict the future. It is best to find professional help for her right now, so she can learn the coping skills needed to express her feelings .
Best wishes to you and your family.
Hi Kat. You are so sweet to inquire about us! Thank you. I've been in horrific back pain, unable to get out of bed, and am about to undergo surgery, so have not been able to set up an appointment for my daughter. She seems to be doing better, but I know I need to get her in to see a psych as soon as I recover from surgery. Thank you for caring.