What to do if your child is self-injuring


Blog by LFCS Therapist, Kelli Manoogian, MA, LPC

Self-injury is a topic that is being brought up more frequently related to children and adolescents. Many parents are bewildered as to what self-injury is and how to address it when they have concerns regarding their child. Self-injury can also be called or known as self-harm, cutting, and self-mutilation. It can include cutting, scratching, burning, bruising, and/or pulling hair among other behaviors. Research from Cornell University’s Program on Self-Injury and Recovery indicates that between 12% to 24% of secondary school and young adult populations report having self-injured. In addition, they found that 6% to 8% of adolescents and young adults report current and chronic self-injury. There is research suggesting that self-injury can begin as early as age 7, but onset is most typically found to occur in the range of ages between 12 and 15.

So how can you tell if your child is self-injuring? Be aware that signs of self-injury can occur anywhere on the body. Some indications of potential self-injury include: your child wearing clothing that is not appropriate for the weather in order to cover arms or legs; wearing wrist bands or items that cover wrists and arms; not participating in activities and events that would lead to exposing parts of their body, such as swimming or gym class at school; increased signs of depression or anxiety; frequent use of bandages; spending long periods of time alone, usually in their bedroom or the bathroom; and having sharp items in their personal belongings.

If you notice any of the above behaviors in your child, it is important to address them and get your child the assistance he or she needs as soon as possible. Remember to address the above behaviors in an open and concerned manner. Try to avoid yelling, lecturing, punishments and ultimatums. LFCS has licensed counselors trained and experienced in treating self-injurious behavior and in working with children, adolescents and their families.

For more information related to self-injury check out the following website: