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MsMojo
MsMojo asks:
Q:

My 12 year old daughter has started cutting herself, telling lies, and just dont care about school. Restriction, talking, pleading dont work. Help

Her grades dropped this past grading period, she talks of killing herself, she recently cut on herself, she says she is EMO. Before this began she was teased at school about being EMO and the girls said she must cut herself because of this.I have talked/listened and even brought in another family member to help because she wont open up to me completely. Punishment for grades and telling lies dont seem to affect her anymore do to being on it so much. Even though I tell her everyday how much she is loved, she has stated that I dont care about her. I dont know what to do from here I feel like I am failing her.
In Topics: My child's growth and development, Cutting, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
May 26, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

The fact that you're writing in for help, tells us you are not failing your daughter!!  You are a very caring and worried mother.  I'm sure you feel as if you are helpless since you've tried several times to talk to your daughter about her feelings, but she won't let you "in".  You are doing a great job of trying to encourage her and let her know that she is loved and valued.  Continue to let her know that you are there for her when she's ready to talk.  

You're right to be concerned about your daughter's behaviors.  By your daughter cutting and isolating herself she's definitely crying out for help.  It's very important that she gets professional help as soon as possible to ensure that she doesn't hurt herself further by cutting.  Consider taking her to a counselor.  If you need a referral for one, you might try asking her school counselor if there is someone they recomment, or call the Boys Town National Hotline.  We have a national database for agencies all over the country that provide family and teen counseling.  We can be reached at 1-800-448-3000.

It's wonderful that you realize that what your daughter is feeling is not just "normal teen stuff" and that she may need further help.  A counselor will be able to talk with her about her feelings and work with her on improving her self esteem and identity among her peers.  With love and professional guidance your daughter will get through this!!

Take Care,
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000


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Additional Answers (14)

lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
It must be so difficult to see your daughter suffering like this. My heart goes out to the two of you, and I hope that we can devise a plan together to get her the support she needs.

First, it is VERY important that you take your daughter's suicidal ideation very seriously. Whenever a child, teen, or adult speaks of suicide, we know that they are struggling to cope with the stressors they are facing, and we must listen. Therefore, I recommend that you do not delay in your efforts to understand and support your daughter.

Sit down with your daughter and explain that you understand it may be difficult for her to speak with you, but the time has come for her to get some help. Let her know that you understand things are difficult for her, but it does not have to be so hard. She can experience more happiness and joy in her life, and you plan to help. Provide her with the alternatives for help and ask her which she would prefer. Suggest that the two of you speak with the school counselor to discuss resources in the community (e.g., therapists, psychiatrists). If she would prefer to go directly to the community, talk with friends for referrals. Explain that you are looking for someone with expertise in teen issues, preferably self-injurious behavior. If you are limited financially, there are community mental health programs in most cities that offer sliding-fee scales (pay only what you can afford). Similarly, nearby universities often have training programs for therapists, and they may have a university counseling clinic for folks who are seeking therapeutic support at lower fees (typically pay only what you can). If you and your family prefer to speak with a spiritual leader in the community, you can also pursue that avenue.

It is important that you know that your daughter sounds sad and hopeless. She may, or may not, meet the criteria for depression, but she definitely needs help with her mood symptoms. Once she is feeling better, she can begin to work on more adaptive coping strategies. Individuals who cut themselves are typically overwhelmed by intense feelings, but they do not have a good way to manage them (e.g., talking with a friend, going for a walk or jog, hitting a pillow). Cutting helps to focus their feelings on a tangible injury, provides relief and can quickly become "addicting" as a way to cope with tough feelings. She needs to learn alternatives to dealing with the stresses of life. I included a couple of links to articles on the topic below.

Good luck in your efforts to find her support. Let us know if you have any additional questions.

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
Education.com

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palni
palni writes:
your child has entered into teen age so be careful for handling her becoz if you ordered to her she wont obey any words of yours .... so keep on close touch with her self ... go friendly ....
> 60 days ago

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j-lyn
j-lyn writes:
she obviously needs attention from others, not just you...she seems like the kind of kid where things are just not good enough..make sure your supportive w/ her "expressing herself" in ways you may not approve...(Emo; ~ emotional dresser)...she needs to stand out in the crowd...it means alot to her apparently...cutting...a cry for attention...even though u may give her that, she needs something more. If everyone justs accepts her for who she is becoming, she'll start to accept herself. Good Luck & God Bless!
> 60 days ago

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greenviolets
greenviolets writes:
First of all make it clear to her that you don't judge her.  Let her know that you love her no matter what and that you are there for her to make things better, not to put more pressure on her.  Tell her that you won't pressure her, but that she should know that you are there for her to talk to, or that you will help her find someone who she feels more comfortable talking to.  Don't make this about you.  Don't blame yourself; it will only make her feel worse about herself and cause her to withdraw into herself more.  More than likely she feels badly about herself already.  I know that you feel guilty, but don't voice that to her; keep the solution about her.  Relieve her of responsibilities that seem to overwhelm her.  Likely, she is feeling a lot of pressure and that she isn't good enough.  
 
I started cutting when I was 12 years old.  It never fully goes away.  It wasn't until I turned 25 that I finally talked to my mother openly about it.  It wasn't until then that I really made headway in overcoming this disease.  It never fully goes away, but hopefully she'll at least know you're there to help her when she feels the urge.
> 60 days ago

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lovemydaughter
lovemydaugh... writes:
MsMojo:
I am so sorry about your situation. My daughter also used to cut herself. She is now 14 and she started cutting over a year ago. I was very lucky to have a school counselor that she was able to relate to and get much needed help from. He was literally a life saver. The thing is, I KNOW how hard it is to get your teen to talk to somone about this. She didn't want to talk to me or to a any other counselor I tried taking her to. Her school counselor didn't specialize in teens that cut, but luckily, he was all she needed. I know you may not have that option and wish I could give you some advice on how to get your teen to talk to a therapist. All I can say is, I know how convincing my daughter was to me about being "OK", and telling me she didn't "need" to talk to somone. But I forced her anyway. It ended up being what she needed. I recently asked her what was it that made you stop? And she just said that her counselor helped her sort out her emotions. She also told me that she just started forcing herself to find other ways to cope with her negative feelings while she was having them. She said it was hard, but after a while, it just became the way she dealt with her problems istead of cutting. She would force herself to just sit in her room and breath calmly for 30 minutes. Then, she would get up and clean her room, write out her feelings and all the GOOD things about her and her life. Sometimes she said that if she couldn't find anything good, she would think of the good things she WANTED and then set goals on how to achieve them. Kids have it so hard at this age. But one thing I have tried pounding into my daughters head (and I know she got sick of hearing it) was that this stage does pass and it will be just a memory. Don't base your entire life on this short period of "teen-hood". You will be an adult for much longer than you will be a teen. Plan your adult life and what you "want" it to be like and set your goals. The EMO stage is exactly what my daughter was going through. One major thing that was also a big help for my daughter, was taking away her independence when it came to the internet. There is so much out there you wouldn't even believe it. This EMO scene is quite scary. If she has this kind of freedom, take it away! She will kick and scream and be very mad, but do it anyway. Trust me, I had to do it. Her dad bought her a laptop for christmas a couple years ago and she no longer has that computer. She uses mine, in the living room, out in the open, and I have a software that basically records what sites she is visiting, every word she is typing and takes screen shots of everywhere she goes. I don't like to be intrusive in my daughters life, but when it comes to her safety, I will be as intrusive until I feel can be trusted again. That time still has not come yet even though she has stopped cutting. I'm not ready yet, but feel that time is near. I really hope everything has gotten better for you. If you feel the need to talk to someone who has been there, feel free to contact me.
Nanette
> 60 days ago

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karelg
karelg writes:
It's very necessary at this stage that you take an initiative step to talk to your daughter and about underlying issues that are of serious concerns. Definitely, it would be a huge task for you to sit with your daughter and even convince her to talk. You have to keep your patience, so that she find yourself trustworthy to open herself. For this you might also have to involve in fun activities that she like the most and be part of it. Narrate something to her that she want to listen and thinks that it is close to her heart..With time of developing mutual understanding, friendship & trust, talk to her about her cutting. Then she'll gradually opens up..This way you can understand her point of view. This is the approach you have to adopt i.e., passive manner, which is because people who are prone to self-harming might get agitated and feel pushed and pressured and most people that will inflict self-injuries are not too fond of pressure and tend to bend under it. The best course of action is to let that person know you are aware of the situation and you are willing to talk and help if needed, but never should you push and insist. Unfortunately the beginning is the hardest, this type of person is easy to break down, so all you can do in the beginning is give them support and remind them that you are always there, eventually they will have to open up to you.

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rachelritalin789
rachelrital... writes:
Oh, dear...
This happened to me when I was about nine or ten.My parents were divorced, my mom was dating an abusive jerk, my teacher was practically evil, and I was going through depression already.
Trust me, you're not failing her.It's the kids at school. I got called emo, and once, my cat scratched me on my wrist, and I was bullied up to the point I actually tried cutting myself.
1 Teach her to tolerate them,
2 ignore them,
3 make friends that share her qualities,
4 get her a pet.
5 buy art supplies of any sort,
6 introduce her to the band My Chemical Romance.They sound depressing, but trust, me, it got me through some tough things in life.
7 show her the scene style.It's fairly similar, but more upbeat, and almost everyone scene is very nice.
8 MUSIC!!
9 have a talk with the rude, mean children's parents.
10 take her to the mall, have some mother-daughter shopping time.But not embarasing.
> 60 days ago

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shinegirl
shinegirl writes:
Dear MsMojo.
              take it frome a girl who is "Emo" herself. your daughter needs help, a lot of parents dont want to amitt it till it is too late, my parrent relized that recently. You daughter need counceling trust me it will do wonders for your baby girl. My parent almost put me in the hospital because of my cutting. She may not trust you and the people around her that is probolly why she is lashing out i know that is what was for me. find her a councelor thast is funny and energetic, it will bost her spirts. good luck:)
> 60 days ago

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novabeam
novabeam writes:
Hi, you don't know me, and I don't know you too.
I self harm too, and I truly understand your daughter.
She won't tell you because she thinks you would think ,or say that she is crazy or something else.
She doesn't tell because she is scared, or worried that she won't be having a normal life anymore, or that she would be dissed by all people around her.
My suggestion is that you let her, herself bring it out to somebody near her age.
I don't know if you have that kind of person. I hope I have helped
and if you want, you can let her talk to me.
And I would be happy if you trust me and let her be friends with me.
I'm 15 yrs old.
Thanks. I hope I've helped.
> 60 days ago

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125fcs
125fcs writes:
When a person cuts, it's to have more power over what they're doing. Try giving her some control of her life but still keep her under close eye.
> 60 days ago

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Jiff
Jiff , Student writes:
She needs to get professional help.
> 60 days ago

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Duckiel0l
Duckiel0l writes:
When I was 12 I was cutting myself, it wasn't the best option but I did it. But what happens when we're so young is that all these emotions build up inside and we need a way to let them out. But everyone has someone they tell EVERYTHING to. Maybe your daughter has/needs someone she knows very well to talk about this. Talking to a counselor is scary because it's kind of like talking to a stranger. Or talking to a parent because they're scared you'll get mad and send them to a mental hospital. Be careful of who she tells because in result she could be taken away. Good luck, hope she gets better.
> 60 days ago

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phatrabbit77
phatrabbit77 writes:
pray for her
> 60 days ago

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sc-kayla
sc-kayla writes:
okay you have to be stern with them they are going to resist but you have to give them a harder punishment since they think  there put them out into the world but keep a close eye in a few days they will be comming home crying to mommie that when you tell her  the rules textme for more
> 60 days ago

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