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lovemydaughter
lovemydaugh... asks:
Q:

My 13 year old daughter is cutting herself. Please someone, tell me how to talk to her and help her.

I've done some research on this subject already, but am more confused than ever as to how to help my daughter.
She has been cutting herself since 5th grade, but I didn't know about it until just a few months ago. She cut herself, we sought counseling, she wouldn't talk to the outside counselor, but did talk to her school counselor. He "seemed" to have helped her. She was doing better in school, joined the track team and seemed generally "happier" and seemingly on a "positive" trend. Just this morning however, I found out she is doing it again. She say's she does it to ease the pain but absolutely refuses to talk to me about what the pain is. She told me she did it last night after I came in her room and yelled at her to clean her room. She say's it's not me that causes her to cut, but I can't help but wonder what I've done wrong. I know it's not productive to blame myself, so I won't. But, I am at a loss as to how to handle this. I told her we need a game plan because she is obviously "not OK". She said not to say that and she is fine. She also refuses to talk to a counselor again. I took her out for drive tonight hoping to talk to her but it just seemed to backfire and now is not talking at all and in her room under the blankets with the light off. I just feel so helpless and terribly afraid. I'm literally sick to my stomach with fear of her hitting a vein and bleeding to death. Please someone, tell me how to talk to her and help her. Thanks for reading.
In Topics: Cutting
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
May 19, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I'm so glad you wrote about what your daughter and you are going through.  It's not surprising that you are feeling sick and uneasy about her behavior lately.  It's very scary as a parent to find out your child is harming themself.  You are exactly right that by your daughter using cutting as a coping skill for when things aren't going well, she's telling you that she's not ok.  Typically most teens or kids that cut themselves aren't doing it as a suicide attempt, but only to release or feel pain in a different way than they are currently experiencing it.  They usually don't have the proper coping skills to deal with uncomfortable feelings, so they cut as a way to numb their real feelings.  

For teens, cutting can become a habit and a very dangerous one.  Like you stated, kids usually don't realize that it's very easy for them to cut too deep or too far, and that the wound can easily become infected or need medical attention.  By the time it gets that far, they are usually too embarassed or afraid they will get in trouble to talk to an adult about it.  It's great that you are trying to talk to your daughter about this now to help her from doing any permanent or serious damage to herself in the future.  Find out what she is using to cut herself and make sure that it is not accessible to her.  If she uses razors, lock them in your bathroom and tell her she needs to ask permission to take one in the shower with her when she needs to shave.  That may seem invasive, but her safety needs to come first.

It sounds like your daughter is afraid to speak to an outside counselor about her cutting.  However, because of the dangers of cutting it's important to find someone that she will be able to discuss it with.  If she's comfortable talking to her school counselor, set up an appointment to meet with him again.  If the school counselor suggests that she needs something more intensive, ask him for a referral.  Ask your daughter if she would feel more comfortable working with a younger counselor?  Call a few counseling agencies and explain what you are looking for and ask if they have a counselor that would fit your daughters needs?  

Remember that you can try working with a few different counselors until your daughter finds one that she feels comfortable with.  Allowing her to be in the decision making process will make her more likely to be willing to talk to someone.  

You're doing a great job reaching out for help.  If you want to talk to a crisis counselor more in depth about your situation, please feel free to call us anytime.

Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000

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Additional Answers (80)

Edwards5
Edwards5 , Caregiver, Parent writes:
There is something that is or has happened to her that she fills she can't come to about. You need to find out what that is. She is hearting inside and does not want anybody els to heart like her. So she cutes herself it is bad and she does not know what els to do. You have to let her know you can dill with what ever she through at you. You have to tell her she can tell you anything and you have to mean it this means when she tells you you can not freak out. Talk to her become her friend the one she can tell anything to and be there for her when she needs you. You have to be willing to work it out with her because you can't do it for her. It is time for you to pull it together and step up. Good LUCK
> 60 days ago

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Kino
Kino writes:
Im fourteen, and i used to cut.
exept i did it for no reason. at first i thought the blood was cool, bet then i realized that when some one hurts you, that if you cut you will forget what was going on previously.
cutting is a sort of drug that you CAN get addicted to.
This sounds terribly but if you cant get her to stop at least make her clean her razors.

I know only a little about what i'm going to talk about but its just what your daughter needs.
its a sort of rehabilitation (big word...) center where teen agers with drug addictions, self inflicted injuries, and eating disorders go (the reasons for these places are like a ranbow, and have a wide spectrum)
your daughter should really go to one of these. it actually sounds really fun, i wish my mom had sent me to one instead of just moving me to LA, and counsling.

i only remember one book that is places in one of these centers and its called Impulse. (weird weird creepy book
> 60 days ago

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poppy123
poppy123 writes:
you have to apporch her in a supportive manner. If she is doing something pull her aside and ask her to write in her journal about what causing her to cut,  and then tell her that when she's ready  to talk about it that you will be more than happy to talk about it ,but in the mean time you need to be talking to who ever you feel the most cofortable talking to, You shoud also do body checks in the morning and before she goes to sleep. This is what I did for my daughter and now she is in a residental placement where she can be supervised. YOU also need to tell her that if she does not stop she will have to go into residental treatment. I hope this advice helps you in the situation.
> 60 days ago

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Hope4cutters
Hope4cutters writes:
Self-injury is addictive and often begin a  negative cycle in a young persons life. Door of Hope 4 Teens is an excellent resource that helps directs a teen or young women away from the destructive behavior patterns and towards a positive productive lifestyle.
> 60 days ago

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lovemydaughter
lovemydaugh... writes:
So is that your wise answer? Your user name suits you.
> 60 days ago

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RayneBowGirl
RayneBowGirl , Student writes:
Dear lovemydaughter,
I'm a 19 year old girl who has been cutting since about 10-11 years old. Cutting is a real fear, and cannot just "fade away". I've lived the life as a cutter, I'm still living the life, and I will continue to live the life. Not because I necessarily WANT to, but I have to now. I hope your daughter can fight it before it REALLY takes over her life. She's still young, she still has time. Let her work the cigarettes and weed out on her own. Eventually, that crap gets old, trust me!!! I've been there, done that.!!! Even if she keeps on the way she's going, she'll be sick of it by 17 or 18. I know I was! Weed and cutting were my life, but I'm over the weed, the cigarettes and I'm slowly getting over the cutting. Things will get better, just hold your head up, smile and let your daughter know that you love her no matter WHAT she does, you just don't have to like the decisions she makes.
Godspeed,
RayneBowGirl
> 60 days ago

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emerald16
emerald16 writes:
She needs to be evaluated for depression. This can be life threatening!
> 60 days ago

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Wonderfulmom
Wonderfulmom writes:
My daughter came to me 7 months ago with this problem.  I didnt understand cutting either. Its hard to, its a way for teens to deal with their emotions.  She is now doing alot better, she is on a mood stabilizer, although i believe that didnt help her with the cutting a %100.  She just realized one day she was done and didnt want any more scars, and shes ashamed of it.  One thing I have learned is to be very very patient with this.  When u do find out that she cuts, dont get on her, never yell at her for this.  For your instance, that has happened to me once to, got on her for something (didnt even raise my voice) and the next thing i know, she cut! Talk to her, thats the best thing for her, and you.  Praise her, if something bad happens be alert, and when she doesnt cut, tell her how proud u r!!! It hurts so bad, I have missed lots of work to be with her.  Theres so much I can type, if there r any specific questions, I will check this ofter and will respond asap.  Ur daughter and u r not alone.  My daughter is now helping girls who cut, they came to her.
> 60 days ago

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strait-up-now-tell-me
strait-up-n... writes:
Okay so im going to be blunt no long story about how thakful the world will be to read this. When i as 12 and up to the time i was 15 i cut. you have to hold your daughters hand one day look her dead in the eyes and tell her she is never alone. Let her kkno that no matter what she can tell you anything set up a lunch date and just talk to her. She'll be okay im fine now trust me i know its scary but your daughter is lucky to have a mom that is supportive of her getting better my mom called me a lot of bad names and told me it was BS and that i had nothing to do it over. She id going to be fine.
> 60 days ago

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StitchedRose
StitchedRose writes:
Im so sorry about ur daughter.. i wish i could help. but i cut too. i need help. i cant do this on my own. im 13, and i cant seem to stop. it brings me instant pain release and it distracts me from whatever pain im feeling. your daughter might be not telling you the reason of her pain because she is embarrassed and thinks u might judge her or be upset with her. dont yell at her, ever. when people yell it makes everything 10x worse. if she raises her voice at you dont raise yours back at her. trust me, it makes the pain more intense. dont call her names, definatly never EVER  call her an emo. if you make the situation about yourself she will feel worse. my mom thinks i do it to make her feel guilty. i never have, and i never will. tell ur daughter to put salt on her wrist and then rub ice on it. it gives a burning feeling that is close to cutting but doesnt leave any marks or scars. it has worked for me in the past. it stoped working for me but im trying to stop...
thanks :]
-TaTi
> 60 days ago

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sallyfred
sallyfred writes:
This is eerie because it sounds almost identical to me and my 14 year old daughter. Anytime I try to reach out to her, she shuts down and  gets angry if I try to talk to her or ask her questions. Usually, she acts happy and we spend a lot of time together...watching movies, shopping, playing card games, hiking, exercise...however, I have been getting phone calls from her friends saying she has been talking of suicide and that she cuts herself. The littlest thing, such as telling her to do her chores will shut her down. I feel like I am constantly walking on eggshells around her and when she gets in one of these modes, I don't know what to do. The more I try to help her, the worse her episodes get. I am blaming myself and also getting frustrated with her because I don't understand and she won't communicate with me.
> 60 days ago

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Hopeless
Hopeless writes:
Hi, I am having the same issue. My 13 year old does not want to talk, is the same situation that you are going through. Not sure what your daughter is going through but there must be an underlying issue...for my daughter it may be that she never met her biological father....or who knows, right now is something she does not want to talk about. She is seeing a counselor but not helping. We have to be strong and just tell them that we love them and not making them anxious with our questions and demands. I need to get more knowledge about this so I don't know the answer but I feel hopeless and I will keep checking this message board to see if anyone has some pointers. For now just be strong and know that you are not the only one dealing with this situation.

Keep strong.
> 60 days ago

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jadenmccoy
jadenmccoy , Student writes:
I am not an expert but i do have experience with cutting. What your daughter needs if for you to sit down with her and tell her that you care and love her but that her cuttiing is concerning you and that you want to help. Tell her when she is ready to talk that you are here to talk but you are not going to force her to talk. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help. Also your daughter needs counseling if she is reverting to cutting as a coping skill. She obviously needs to talk about things that are overwhelming her. Don't force her to talk or get mad at her if she won't talk or punish her for cutting because this will only make it worse and you don't want that. She needs a support system that she trusts and can confide in without any fear of rejection or judgement. She needs someone to understand her. To listen to her. She is crying out for help.
I hope this helps.
> 60 days ago

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mom2it2
mom2it2 writes:
Dear lovemydaughter,
I too am in the same boat.  I just discovered my 13 year old daughter has been cutting herself as well.  I don't think I handled it very well though.  I woke her up at 6:00 am , as soon as I discovered messages on her facebook, to confront her about the situation.  She said "she hates her life and wants to die."  That I love her sister more than her and since cross country season ended I have not paid attention to her at all.  I was infuriated.  I spend one on one time with her frequently, her dad spends one on one time with her.  She has everything a teenager could want but obviously SOMETHING is missing and I just don't understand.  She is on detroamphetamines for ADD at 20 mg and now I'm wondering if that could be playing a part in this.  She is constantly causing drama with boys, friends, teachers, etc.  I told her this morning most of her problems are self inflicted and she needs to change how she socializes.  I took away her cell phone, disabled her facebook and am contemplating taking her to the hospital to have the incident recorded.  I am so concerned about her well being.  Why would a child inflict pain on themselves?  I just dont' understand.  How do I make her love herself as much as her father and I love her?
If anyone out there knows why children do this or could offer some suggestions on how to handle this better I would greatly appreciate it.  Because I know that I don't react the way I should.  I get so angry that she would even consider hurting herself that it doesn't come out right.  I always tell her she's beautiful.  She said all shes heard at school is that she's a whore and she's  ugly.  She clearly is not a whore, she's not even a kid who leaves the house much.  She doesn't get free time with boys, just because I know it causes unneeded turmoil in her life.  

Sincerely,
A concerned parent
> 60 days ago

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njcgirl2001
njcgirl2001 writes:
To let you know I am not a dr and can not diagnose.  I can on the other hand speak from a parent space.  My daughter has cut herself in the past year.  Most recently three weeks ago.  She has scars up and down her arms.  She has a friend that does it too.  We talked about it and researched stuff with her on the internet.  She too see's a counselor and has for 2 years.  After this last episode, I have changed her dr.  I truly believe she is having some self realization of her past and things that happened when she was two.  I.E. My ex and I split on a violent note, she was then molested by one of my ex's friends and DCFS was brought into it.  I took her to counseling right away and that seemed to help then.  She is very self conscience of her body image, as she is over weight and most of her friends are not.  We are lucky to have her Aunt (my sister) and her God mother, (my best friend) live with us, to help her find coping skills that work for her.  She has recently picked up writing and can not put down the notebook.  While I do not get mad at her for it, I am very concerned myself.  I know with a new counselor, natural homeopathic vitatmins, and more love and patience with her than I have ever given, she will come away with this as something she can gain growth in her life for.  The best advice I can give is watch her, but not too close as to smother her.  Find a counselor she can open up to, it may take a few.  Vitamin B and L Tyrosine are the equivalent of anti-depressants, and have no side effects, get her on a schedule she can deal with and give unconditional love through hugs, maybe a date night with her every weekend.  
Just remember she is not broken and does not have a defect.  She is at a very critical time in her life when she must find herself and this is one way she is expressing it.    I hope this helps you.
> 60 days ago

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banam
banam writes:
ok talk with your daughter Tell your daughter that a bad think that she done
> 60 days ago

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banam
banam writes:
Forced her to get out from the room  talk to her  and help her
> 60 days ago

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BaDDaD1525
BaDDaD1525 writes:
Good luck. 60 days ago. . . I just started the same unpleasant journey with my daughter 3 weeks ago. I hope you and your heart are doing well. Man, as a father I understand the anguish too well. Try to stay positive and do find a good therpist your daughter can trust and let her have a place there where she can have secrets. If it seems like a highly paid friend for your daughter, I will be worth it.
It is a long story that tkcks me off but my daughters mom, my ex, discovered her cutting about 3 months before I did and had her in therapy (my girl has since told me she started in 4th or 5th grade - I know and agree - how do you miss something like that. I will die with that being my last thought how did I miss that pain). Anyway she an the therapist have a good rapport and it seems to be a safe zone for her to share some things she is not ready to discuss with myself or her mom for whatever reason. It hurts, but if it helps it will be worthwhile. It is not about her mom and I.
Again, good luck. I am still waiting to wake up.
> 60 days ago

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ashleycrain
ashleycrain , Student writes:
I am 15 years old, & i cut aswell. I cut because of my insecurities, family issues, school, stress, boys, friends, everything. Its hard to describe to someone who's never cut but ill do my best. When i cut, it takes all the pain thats inside of me outside.. so in a way im distracting my mind from everything thats going on because of the physical pain that im feeling. Its my way of releasing. Its like i can help myself without bringing down others into my depressing life. My mother yells at me for this and sends me to my room. She doesnt really get that what shes doing makes everything worse.. she says i want attention & i need to 'get over myself and stop feeling sorry for myself' but that just causes me more pain. & my parents are divorced so its not like i could go to him. Your daughter is very lucky that you care! I think what she needs is for you to be more understanding of what she needs and why she needs it.. *DONT* try to get it out of her to fast because then she'll feel like you're trying to hard and she'll react badly. slowly build a better relationship and she'll end up confiding in you and telling you everything.. Counseling didnt help me either.. they're just nosy strangers in my opinion..
> 60 days ago

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Mommy1st
Mommy1st writes:
Hi there, lovemydaughter.  I too have a daughter that told me she "likes to hurt herself".  I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be in the medical field.  Barring that, I am a mother and have for the past fifteen plus years been dealing with a daughter that feels the need to hurt herself.  I was unaware of it for years.  After a severe illness unrelated to the self-hurt, my daughter lost her job, her car, her independance, and had a nervous breakdown.  I wouldn't want to see any parent have to see their child in this terrifying way.  She had to stay in a mental hospital for two weeks, and it was the saddest time of my life.  My beautiful, fun-loving child was broken, and there was nothing I could do about it but wait and watch and pray that she came back to us.  Now, six months later, it has come to light that she has always felt the desire to hurt herself.  The therapist told me it is a way for her to feel in control in a world that is so overwhelming to her.  It is also a part of her mental illness that has all been discovered in her hospital stay.  I cannot fathom why she wants to hurt herself, but I am told it is not about me or the way I raised her.  It is a mental illness that needs proper treatment so that she does not do permanent damage to herself.  It is a very long and trying process to help our daughter feel "normal" again and get back into life.  There is nothing to be ashamed of, nor afraid of if your daughter has a mental illness.  Get her diagnosed by a Psychiatrist and then follow through with treatment.  Please understand that a mental illness is not a cold.  It is a disease of the brain that cannot be cured.  But like diabetes, it can be managed, and your daughter can live a fullfilling life.  Obviously I cannot diagnose your daughter, but I do strongly suggest you find her professional help for her sake, as well as your peace of mind.  Our daughter is on the road to recovery, but I have to tell you...you never, ever want to see your child broken, suffering psychotic episodes, and fragile as a china doll.  If you can help to prevent it, do so.  I will never get the image of my baby girl in that hospital, helpless as a baby, curled up in a ball on the couch of a mental hospital, and because of the law, no one would talk to me about what was happening because she was over 18; it was the most traumatic time in both of our lives.  I pray your daughter is not as bad, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
> 60 days ago

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