How To Address Self-Harm In Teen Boys
Sundance Canyon Academy has helped many teen boys who struggle with self-harm. We are writing on the topic to provide guidance for parents struggling with how to address self-harm in their teen sons. If you feel like your son needs help overcoming self-harm, please contact us today. The counselors at our therapeutic boarding school are trained to work with students to stop self-harming behavior.
If you suspect that your teen is engaging in self-harming behavior, you need to intervene immediately. Self-harm should be taken seriously and addressed as quickly as possible. Having these conversations with your teen can be very difficult. This article will provide an overview of why teens hurt themselves and how to address it.
What Is Self-Harm?
Self-harm is not a suicide attempt, and it is not a means of attention-seeking. Many teens engage in self-harming behavior as a way to cope with negative emotions. They are often embarrassed about hurting themselves and try to cover it up or downplay it.
Some common forms of self-harm include:
- Hitting (either punching themself or hitting themself against something hard)
- Ingesting things that are harmful
- Purposefully preventing wounds from healing
Why Do Teens Self-Harm?
Overall, self-harm is a coping mechanism for negative emotions that they don’t know how to address. There are numerous methods of self-harm, and there are numerous reasons for doing it. As the parent of a teen who hurts themself, it’s important to understand the underlying reason for the behavior.
Some common reasons why teens self-harm includes:
Making an outward expression of inward pain
Some teens harm themselves as a way to outwardly express unpleasant feelings. When they haven’t learned how to express those feelings in a constructive way, they can resort to self-harm.
When everything else in life is out of control, teens look for something that they can control. Taking control of their body and what happens to it can provide a sense of security.
Focusing on something present
When life feels overwhelming, some teens starting cutting as a way to focus on something that they can feel in the moment.
Finding a way to feel
For teens who have experienced trauma, self-harm can be a way to feel something. One common result of childhood trauma is emotional numbness. If that’s the case, some teens will engage in self-harming behavior as a way to feel something rather than remaining numb.
How to address self-harm in your teen son
Remember that in most cases, self-harm stems from an inability to express painful emotions in a constructive way. It’s a coping mechanism for dealing with negative emotions like stress, anxiety, anger, and sadness. Since they don’t feel comfortable expressing those emotions verbally, you can expect the conversations to be difficult but extremely important.
- – Check your own emotions and make sure you’re ready for the conversation. It’s tough when someone you love is hurting themselves, and you probably have strong feelings about it. Try to keep those feelings in check so that you can express yourself calmly and listen to what they have to say.
- – Listen to what they have to say without being judgmental or demeaning. Remember that many teens feel embarrassed about their self-harming behavior, so shaming them about it won’t help. If they feel like it’s not safe to talk with you about it without upsetting you, they will likely withdraw even further.
- – Seek professional help. Self-harm is serious, and it should be taken seriously.
- – Support them through their recovery process. Let them know that you’re there to listen if things are hard, and follow through with that promise. As they make plans to ensure that they don’t self-harm, help them follow through with those plans.
- – Support them in finding new coping techniques. If they’ve been relying on self-harm as a way to cope with negative feelings, they’ll need to learn new positive ways to address those feelings.
- – After they’ve started to address the problem, don’t bring it up all the time. Try to focus more on the positive things that they’re doing. Though they might want to talk about the difficult things sometimes too, it won’t help if you constantly remind them of their past with self-harming behavior.
If your teen son is engaging in self-harming behavior, contact us for help. Our therapists are trained in helping teen boys address their emotions and learn to communicate them in positive ways. Find out how Sundance Canyon Academy could help your family.