How Do I Help My Child Who Is Hurting Themselves?

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I would, I guess I would wanna ask a few more questions. The, the, the question in here is my child, the, the fear of the parent is that the child is hurting themself. I, I wonder what the child is actually experiencing that would trigger that feeling of, I need, I, I wanna hurt myself. So you, sometimes there's anxiety, sometimes it is, they don't know how else to regulate those feelings or their fears. So I think we have to begin by asking, why does my child want to hurt themself? And so if as a parent I'm in this situation, the question I would be asking is, is why do they feel like they need to get attention that way? If that's an accurate assumption, it may or may not be. So perhaps the child is experiencing this, this need because they're anxious. So maybe it's not for attention. It may be because they feel anxious. So I would encourage you to think about additional possibilities. It may be to get attention, but it might also be that they're feeling overly anxious, and it, it's their way of calming down. There's research to support the idea that when children or, or anybody hurts themselves or harms of themselves, it's because they're feeling so anxious. And so we wanna explore that as a possibility. Now, I don't know that because I don't know your specific situation, but as a parent, you're, you can be an investigator, you're a researcher, you're gathering data, you're trying to understand what your child's experiencing, and we don't necessarily know. So we need to go get some data. I wonder what is triggering them to consider harming themself in some way? Whether that's cutting, whether that's, uh, pulling hair or pinching. You know, what, what is it? Usually in situations like that, you'll see a lot of anxiety. So it may be their way to regulate. One of the things you might do there, just, let me just give you a specific idea. This may or may not work, but if you recognize, and as parents, we, we call it attunement, being attuned to our child. And when I'm attuned to my child, I can actually read emotions. I can read their facial expression because I'm watching their body language and, and, and did that land or did that not land? Are we connecting or are we not connecting? And so I'm gonna take a little bit of time to see how they're responding. It feels like something's happening right now. Are you, are you feeling anxious? So you're helping them give a languish to what they're experiencing? Well, what do you mean anxious? Well, are you feeling this? I mean, if you just think about what's going on in your mind right now, what are some of the thoughts and feelings you're having? And now that's the curious us and asking them, and we're having a dialogue back and forth. I don't know why do you even care, mom, dad? But I'm just observing. I'm, one of the things I'm learning myself is when I feel emotions trying to identify them. And I'm interested in what you're experiencing. It's something that I'm trying to get better at. Because one of the things I learned recently in a webinar, uh, that it's a really good idea to pay attention to your emotions and really do some self introspection and learn. So one of the things I'm asking you to do in this situation is when you feel whatever it is you're feeling, What would you wanna say? So if you could draw it or write it out, what would you draw? What would you write? So now you're teaching them how to go through some of these experiences, which can help them significantly give a voice to whatever they're feeling inside, which actually can help reduce their anxiousness and that desire or need to harm themself.

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Dr. Kevin Skinner