Below are a list of the top things you should do when you suspect your child might be self-harming...

  • Build up the wider picture – why do you think this? Have you, and anyone else noticed any physical signs?
  • Don’t rush in. Wait. Build the picture up for what is happening. Is there a pattern to it?
  • Don’t panic – self-harm is a coping strategy, rarely a suicide attempt.
  • Contact school – how are things going for them there? Friendships? Academic work?
  • When the time and place are right, start an open conversation which is calm and without emotion: ‘I have been worried about you, how are things?’ – be prepared for the brush off, the fact you have asked will build the idea that maybe they can tell you.
  • Don’t ask too often or too much – it will cause tension and pressure.
  • Ask yourself this: does it make any difference if I know for sure or not? Very often, self-harm can increase when parents find out as the young person no longer feels in control.
  • Make sure you have a good first aid kit in the house, and, if you are pretty sure your child is harming – perhaps buy one for their bedroom. You aren’t saying it’s right for them to do this, you are saying ‘I care, I am approachable and I want to keep you safe’.
  • Get support from your GP – tell them you have suspicions and concerns.
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint when dealing with your child’s mental health – get support for yourself too.

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