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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 (75)

beckle224.
beckle224. writes:
I was in a similar situation. She felt numb and her problem was the positive is a fake positive and so is the attention. She wants something she cannot have. Don't stress and listen when she talks without you talking back. Check into her friends maybe one of them is doing it too. She is hormonal and doesn't know herself yet. Love her, discipline her, No excuses why not to. Be firm and stay strong. If you panic she will see weakness and the panic and won't talk. Show empathy and talk to her in a monotone voice, and stop making plans. It will only make things worse. Don't give up, don't let her run you over and stand by what you say. Ask her why she cuts herself but do it with a monotone not panicky voice. Add some concern, don't overreact. If she doesn't tell you, then breath a sigh and walk away for a half hour. Ground her to her room and take away cutting stuff. If she cannot take care of herself in home, she cannot leave and if she continues to cut then she will lose her door. Spend time with her and don't ask again for a few days.  Continue to pay attention to her behavior and attitude. Monitor her. Show her how to love herself, there are books about low self esteem. Talk to a youth group member in a church, they provide positive encouragement for teens who have trouble at home with themselves and family. Her view on life is different than yours this might be good for her. It could change her for a much better way of life and an opportunity for you to be involved in her life. Church is wonderful with teens if you go to the right one. Living word fellowships are good, Metro Church of Christ is good, East hill church is good, Assembly of God churches are good and some Lutheran churches are good at helping teens. God bless and good Luck. I will pray for u.
> 60 days ago

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sxystar
sxystar writes:
so sorry for you and your daughter.... sometimes kids cant deal with there pain so they cut themselfs....  its a form of depression and thats how they deal with it... has she ever been raped or molested? im sorry if im being very harsh but it happened to my sister because she was being molested and raped so she cut herself....
> 60 days ago

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LillithAnneSoul
LillithAnne... writes:
Cutting in all basics has two sides to it, the people who dont understand, and the people who try to understand. From the way i take it your trying to understand what us cutters are doing. Its hard in a way to understand what she is doing but understand this, the moment you let her have her way, the moment you say fine ill give you your space you've lost your daughter to a serious battle. my parents backed off after two years of fighting my habbit of cutting and it lead to and addiction the moment they gave up. Im eighteen years old now and i started around the same age as your daughter. Sometimes just making her sit down, making her talk, and making sure she understands what your worried about helps. She doesnt want to hear shes "not ok" becuase shes already trying so hard to make it seem like she is ok. show her that smiling and laughing is possible with out the need for a blade across her skin, guid her on how to overcome her cutting by telling stories of your troublesome times as a teenager. Dont believe her wall of "Im fine, Leave me alone" for a second, all you got to do is find the weak spot and craw through it.
> 60 days ago

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TCarter-Mitchell
TCarter-Mit... writes:
Hello, I pray this message reaches you in good SPIRITS today. I just wanted to send you this message. Being a cutter stems from serious issues. I do not want you to feel like a bad parent when I say this to you because we have not met. I also do not want you to feel like that because you are doing the right thing seeking help for her. I use to be a cutter growing up and I felt like it eased my pain, but now that I am older I know better. When a person cuts their self they feel unloved, they feel like they are going through things on their own, they just do not feel like they fit. A lot of times in life people are so cruel they say and do things that hurt so deeply that it is hard to say to other people. Sometimes it is the little things like feeling that you have made a friend that some how for whatever reason just is not a friend. She/ he may talk behind your back, they may want a boyfriend or girlfriend that the person has, to put it simply their is something in your child that makes others want to destroy her or set her back from the blessing that she is going to have. I do not know if you or your family believes in GOD but knowing GOD really helps. For some people this may sound crazy but I need to reach out and say this. Sometimes others see things inside of a person that they wish they had  and it causes them to say or do things to people like your daughter.  This is because it allows the devil to get in the minds of certain people like your baby and mess with her head. It makes her feel like it is ok to cut myself, I feel so much better when I do this. The devil seeks to attack and control the  mind. No, I am not saying that your daughter is possessed. I am just saying that the enemy attacks the mind. I bet your daughter is very strong willed, smart, good at different things, and very peculiar. She just can not feel comfortable with everyone. There is a reason for this. I pray that you seek GOD for advise and pray with your daughter she will come around. When she finds out exactly who she is, you will not worry about her doing this anymore. Be Blessed and prayed up. I hope this helps.
 For all whom have an ear let them hear what GOD says to HIS church!
> 60 days ago

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tiffany10698
tiffany10698 writes:
My daughter is going through some major issues too. We are in counseling together about once a month and today she texted me from school that she is depressed all the time and she hates herself. She has been cutting herself since 6th grade but just found out about it in the summer. I will do anything to help her get better, whatever it takes. She hasn't cut in about a month or more (at least that is what she tells me). She told me today that she wants to cut real bad but hasn't. I am so sick to my stomach every time I see how sad she is. I wish I could take all her pain away but I can't. I just hope one day she will see how beautiful she is inside and out. We know the cause of her pain but we don't know how long it's going to take to get her better. She is active in sports but had a knee injury that resulted in surgery and out for the season, so I know it has to be bothering her more lately than normal. I wish all the best to you and your daughter and hope we can make it through these tough times.
> 60 days ago

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Sivasubramanyam1016
Sivasubrama... writes:
The very basic idea of every child is to draw the attention of parents. The child who is deprived of childhood love and affection is prone to such attitude. Lack of confidence in regular academic life will deflate and develop inferiority complex in her group. It is a sensitive issue. Any forcible or unwilling activity can give raise to such behavior. The child must be cared for and given freedom of expression. Frequent counselings will enhance the problem of self guilt. Spend couple of hours with her and move intimately. You may get some clues from her friends, it may be an imitation or remedy suggested by same feather group friends. Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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dardy125
dardy125 writes:
Thank you, I read your story and it was like that with my daughter. I just found out this morning when I found her acting a little strange and that's when I started going through her things and her Facebook. That's when I started putting 2 and 2 together. I cried for about an hour and then called the CLSC in my region but I'm still waiting for a phone call from them, and that's when I said I can't sit around and wait to figure out what to do. That's when I got on Google and started typing then saw your story. My daughter is my pride and joy of my life. I'm waiting for her to get home from school.  Merci, merci le bon Dieu.
> 60 days ago

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mybabygirl2000
mybabygirl2... writes:
Hi,I truly hope things are going good For you and your daughter. My oldest daughter cuts. She recently came to Me and asked Me to get her some help. She started cutting in 6th grade, she just turned 13. I'm trying to find her help now. We have always been real close.however her relationship With her father has always been strained. I have even gone as far as to pull her out of public school, and started homeschooling her. I suffer from severe clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I'm scared to death that she may go To far. I'm constantly askin her if she's ok. Her father and I are still together, but he seems to be the main trigger of her cutting. I just don't know what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
> 60 days ago

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ashley1980
ashley1980 writes:
My daughter is 13 and she has been cutting on herself too. I know I get angry with her for doing it and I know it's because I don't understand it at all. I was wondering if anyone thought it would be a good or bad idea for her to be around other teen girls that also cut themselves? She has a friend that also does it and she says that she tried it because she was doing it. I don't know if this is true though. Any help would be appreciated.
> 60 days ago

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mybabygirl2000
mybabygirl2... writes:
To Ashley1980,

My daughter is very open with me. She told me the reason she does it is to release the emotional and mental anguish that she is battling with. The main suggestion I have is to try to get her to open up to you about what's really going on. I try to keep in mind that although the things that trigger her need to cut doesn't seem to be that big of a deal to me, it is apparently a very big deal to her. I have also talked to her about what her triggers are and try to avoid them the best I can. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. I hope this helps you.
> 60 days ago

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cherubsmom
cherubsmom writes:
OMG ! My 14 yr old came daughter came to my room  in tears last night to confess this ! I was soo shocked I couldn't even cry ! Just stuck in time. I held her and said it was ok. Just like your daughter my sounded very matter of fact and mature.She said it wasn't her fault which I assured her it wasn't. I had noticed she was coming home and sleeping for hours, I thought that was off but I thought it was a medication she was taking.It isn't. Its depression. Our kids have more than I used to and it seems the more they have the worse they become because it's all technology. We used to talk face to face with our friends, they don't. Is your daughter on meds? I left a message for a counselor she used to see. My daughter is beautiful, but she doesnt see it.
> 60 days ago

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1sttimemom
1sttimemom writes:
I know the feeling on that part. I have 3 teenage step-daughters, and 2 of them were cutters.  The way I handled things were harsh, but it worked. Tough love is usually the best thing for a teenager. When they were in school, I took and tore the room apart found everything that could cut them. From razor blades to knives. Paperclips, pencil tops from where they took the eraser out and bent the tips by chewing on them. If they needed something to write with or do homework, they did it in front of me. I told them, the only way they could even think about getting a pen or anything to that nature back in their rooms was they had to earn my trust, talk to me about what was going on in their minds, and be willing to make an effort and work with me instead of against me.  They agreed with me, and that was 2 years ago. We do things that they want to do, we go on where they want from time to time. Go to the movies and get involved with what they enjoy, not what we want them to enjoy.  Keeping their hands as busy as possible, makes wonders.  
Your daughter will come out of her shell once she see's your not forcing her to talk, but put forth an effort and take her someplace that both of you will enjoy.  If she see's you are trying to make an effort, she will lighten up and come around.  It worked for mine. Now, they come to me for everything.. I love it!  Best of luck to you
> 60 days ago

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newbyone1976
newbyone1976 writes:
I am so thankful for all of your comments and suggestions.  I just started dealing with my 12 year old step daughter cutting about 2 months ago.  Her mother and I were beside ourselves when we found out.  Her mother is an RN and runs a nursing home about an hour away from home so she is not at home very often to spend time with our daughter.  Luckily she felt comfortable enough with me to open up and we are working on her issues.  She is in counceling and is on medication, but neither have worked for her.  Her dad left when she was young, her mom married another man and then divorced a few years later so she has never had a stable home life.  I have vowed to her that I will never leave our family and that she IS my daughter for life.  I grew up in a strict family where if you wanted anything besides a roof over your head, food in your belly and clothes on your back...you worked for it.  I started helping my dad mow yards when I was in 5th grade.  I carried groceries, cleaned our house, and did whatever they asked.  Because of that, I was "spoiled" but I was also told mutliple times a day that they loved me and they would always hug me.  I think that type of behavior is what my step daughter is missing so I have been slowing increasing the amount of times i tell her I love her and hug her.  She has even gotten to a point where she will expect a hug in certain situations and that is great.  I have two problems, she refuses to do anything like cleaning her room, laundry, dishes, etc but still wants money to hang out with her friends all weekend long and her mom gives it to her because she doesn't want to upset her.  Second is I can't spend 24 hours a day with her and once she leaves our house, that is when the trouble starts.  I get text messages every day starting at about 10am about how she is tired of hurting, tired of lying friends, and just wants it all to be over with.  I have even had to pick her up from school for an hour to let her feel better before going back.  By the time I get home from work, she acts fine and says there isn't anything wrong.  I am considering moving to a different school district but that would now require me to move farther away from other two children.  I have also considered in patient treatment facilities.  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated as I am at a loss as to what to do next.
> 60 days ago

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Chloe:-)
Chloe:-) writes:
OK what you could do is try and understand how she feels and try to keep her feeling happy and talk to her about it but don't keep going on about it to her because then she may start to feel uncomfortable and most people who self harm don't like talking about it when they need to. She might already talk to someone else who she trusts. Like a friend or she might write a diary.

Hope this helps :-)
> 60 days ago

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REFRAME
REFRAME writes:
The young girl is probably trying to cope with very hard feelings of anguish and cutting herself is a way of getting rid of the feelings. By cutting herself she replaces the feeling of anguish with the physical pain to have an at least temporary relief. Relatives that try to help may worsen the problem by producing the stimuli to the young to feel guiltier, which increases the feeling of anguish, causing a snowballing of the situation. I think I have some tips to make the situation easier:
1.Love instead of Guilt. Mothers often feel very guilty about that kind of situation. It works as if Guilt would have replaced Love, which generates the worst environment to deal with the problem. It leads parents to correct it by imposing their own criteria, with little consideration of the suffering young, if any. The main criterion becomes getting rid of their own feeling of guilt, sometimes putting strong pressure on the young and on the professional caring personal. On the other hand, Love provides a strong respect for the suffering young and brings about faith that she is able to handle her feelings properly. Love is the confidence that she will find her way out of her pain. No one can find it for her.
2.Availability. Guilty parents often convey the message that they are there for their suffering sons, that they can count on them absolutely, that they are competent enough to handle their difficulties. That kind of message is not as good as it seems to be. Young people often understand the opposite way. For them it conveys the idea that they are not competent and that they are not responsible for their own problem. Less competent parents convey a better message. They say: "I don't know what to do". "I am so overwhelmed and I don't feel I can handle this!" It makes sons more responsible for their own lives.
3.Blaming. We become blames when we are overwhelmed and find no way of asking for help. Blaming is weird, but common, way of asking for help. And it's so ineffective! It simply doesn't work to provide us to the help we need! Blamed ones will defend themselves, or blame us back, or ignore us. Blaming is not just about words. It's often communicated through voice tone and gestures and it's often present when there is an important problem. Understand blaming as a cry for help. Don't blame your daughter and people around her. She is very sensible to blaming words, tones and gestures. Just tell her what you need. When blamed, ask the blaming person what she needs. It will make relationship easier.
4.Criticism. Your daughter is probably very sensible to criticism, no matter it's directed to her, to other people or about her. She feels it in the atmosphere. It's likely that whenever you are talking to anyone or even thinking about her problem it may be spoken in a critical way. By emphasizing someone's problem we often forget her good qualities.


(As I am not a native English speaker, I can't always attach the "right emotion" to the words or expressions, so excuse me if it seems inappropriate. If written in my mother language, I would have expressed the strong feelings I had as I was writing this)
> 60 days ago

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Ronniefoxx
Ronniefoxx writes:
I am 14 years old, and I cut. It keeps me from getting deeper into depression and give me a high feeling afterwards. Cutting stops me from feeling numb, and has actually SAVED my life more than anything. If your daughter has been cutting for this long and still gets caught, you might need to tell her about how infections are common and how to make sure there are no arteries or veins. If anything, don't pressure her, it can make it escalate, believe me, I know. If anything, stop being a parent, and be a friend, remind her that she is loved and go easy on her for a while, and don't yell at her over stupid things like cleaning her bedroom. My dad yells at me because I didn't show him my report card the first day i got it and instantly i thought "Jesus Christ, why can't i do anything right? im such a failure." Remind her that she is precious.
> 60 days ago

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citylights
citylights writes:
Hey, I'm the kid who did that. At eighteen I have come to understand that it is not the best way to cope with things. Cutting, self-harm whatever you call it is an addiction that I would have liked to have avoided.
There are a lot of aspects that you haven't considered. She's cutting, yes. In all reality she doesn't WANT to. My parents thought taking away my razors and scissors and anything sharp thought that it would be a great way to make me stop. They never left me alone for long and treated me like I was crazy. It sucked. never have I been that caged in. i wanted to kill myself so badly. My best friend had committed suicide and I swore I would never put the people I loved through the aftermath.
Cutting was my escape. It was a way to keep living when all I wanted to do was quit. More like cut and push through a little longer. It stopped me from killing myself. I couldn't quit cold turkey and I couldn't quit because my parents wanted me too. Cutting is a symptom of a problem not the problem itself. Simply eradicating self-harm wont heal your daughter. I don't know what happened to her but I know I had endured some pretty messed up stuff to get there. I know a few friends who did it and were able to quit much faster than I did and who started because of less 'bad experiences'.
My advice, Tell her you will listen if she needs to talk but dont ask her what you did wrong because in all probability you didn't. This has nothing to do with you. It's about her. Also put her into therapy. It took me over a year to trust my counselor. Even then we didn't talk about cutting. Or self-harm. I learned how to find out why was driven to self harm. It took me three years to beat it and yes that may not sound great. Three years is a long time. I had OCD which made it harder to quit. Different things effect how, why, and when we will stop cutting.
Counseling helped. Even when we were talking about my dog or just my ordinary day. It helps. Give counseling time. It wont happen in days or weeks. It may take a few months if your lucky or a few years. But she will get through it.
- A Recovered Girl who used to Self Harm
> 60 days ago

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Worried_B
Worried_B writes:
I have recently found out that my daughter, aged 13 is cutting herself, and honestly, I'm so down and upset.

I approached my daughter with a tube of Savlon Cream, she asked "what is that for?", I replied, "I love you and would like you to put this on your marks", she replied "oh, you know" and my heart sank to a depth I never knew it could ever reach.

She admitted to cutting and promised me that she would come cuddle me first if she had the urge to cut again but refused to say she'd never cut again.

I searched under her bed and found 7 blades and so many tissues soaked in blood it was so destroying, for her, I don't care about myself anymore, her life is mine, always has been, always will be.  Furthermore to that  I found rings from popular drinks snapped in half and also sissors which I have removed.

My daughter was very open about cutting but refused point blank to show me her scars, and I didn't push her for fear of her completely shutting down with me all together.

Now I have all the razorblades in the house hidden, each and every waking moment I am checking on my daugter with such a sickly stomach all the while.  She wrote about being very sorry for not being pretty, not being attractive, not wearing the perfect fashions and so on.  But the thing is, she IS beautiful, a mediterrian look with dark hair and dark eyes, almost Italian, and a personality that is out of this world, she really doesn't see it.

I have now bought her a journal/diary, so she can direct her thoughts and directions from there (and hopefully less cutting), and I am so hoping it works, I have told her and mean every word when I say, "you could leave it at the side of me, I won't read it, when you are ready, I'm here".

I think her friend cuts too but my daughter won't say, but to heal her and know I need to heal her friend too, but I have said if her friend needs me (lives with dad, no mother around) then I'm there for her too.

Any advice please is so welcome xx
> 60 days ago

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Lilganana
Lilganana writes:
I wish i could help you because i am going thur the same thing with my granddaughter that i have raised she is 12 , she went to heritage last year but she will be in Ringgold middle this year. We had to put her in valley  for a week because of cutting, She gave me the same song and dance your daughter gave you ,i look at the scars on her legs and arms and i just cry. She started being friends to people that are into the emo look, Black hair ,skinny jeans ,high top tennis shoes. The EMO group do not want anyone to judge them and have very low self worth. I know she is still doing it altho she tells me she just ran into a branch and took a fall, Please if you find a way to help your daughter let me know i have tried everything i can think of.
> 60 days ago

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xravenwingx
xravenwingx writes:
Hi, (:
I thought I'd just like to say some things that might help. I used to cut just a little bit (i only have one noticeable scar on my left wrist). Well, one day I was at school and I told a student that I once in awhile cut. When my dad picked me up that day, he told me to show him my wrists because my teacher had said a student told her I cut. Thankfully, I only had a few cuts on one wrist so I could say that it was a cat scratch. But let me just say a few things... I didn't cut so much because I had pain, but more for the look of acceptance because of marking my body permanently. Perhaps your daughter may feel a little like that. If I could talk to her sometime possibly by e-mail, I might be of some help. (:

~ Vanessa
> 60 days ago

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