Is your child self-harming in ways you haven’t spotted?

Uncategorized Jan 18, 2022

Discovering that your child is self-harming is profoundly shocking and upsetting for every parent; but it’s quite likely that your child is self-harming in ways you haven't even noticed.

Self-harming is an epidemic that affects young people across the world*: 

  • 1-in-6 young people self-harm in the UK
  • 1-in-5 teen girls self-harm in the USA
  • 1-in-4 teen girls self-harm in the Australia 

Types of self-harm

Most of the coverage of self-harm in the media focuses on cutting, referencing children with self-inflicted wounds on their arms. But the reality is, this is only one form of self-harm, and many other forms get overlooked. 

The following list will help you identify other ways that your child may be self harming:

Most Common

  • Scratching
  • Pinching
  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Hair pulling 
  • Ripped skin

Less Common and often overlooked

  • Eating too much/too little
  • Excessive   exercise 
  • Isolating themselves

These often overlooked examples are ways that young people self-harm, affect their bodies and their health over longer periods of time.

Aggressive Behaviour

Another set of behaviours that can be neglected are aggressive tendencies such as:–    Punching walls             

–  Getting into fights

–   Breaking objects with their body

–   Putting themselves in risky situations

Notice anything worrying about these less obvious aggressive types of self-injury?

These behaviours are often used to describe ‘boisterous’ teenage boys. As a parent, you might find yourself dismissing your sons’ careless behaviour as just ‘boys being boys’. Whilst self-harm amongst boys is often overlooked, it may be because this is their way of injuring themselves.

Have you noticed some of these commonly overlooked examples? You’re not alone. 70% of children/adolescents who repeatedly self-harm use multiple methods – anywhere between    2 – 4**. 

Why do young people self-harm?

The reasons behind self-injury are complex and unique to each child, because each child/adolescent self-harms for different reasons. Keep in mind that you are not to blame and that your child is probably using it as a coping mechanism for overwhelming emotions and stress they’re experiencing.

Some of the most common reasons include:

  • They are struggling to keep up with school work
  • They may feel lonely
  • They may be being bullied
  • They may have an underlying mental health difficulties
  • And many more everyday stressors

Identifying these behaviours and trying to understand a child’s experiences can be very difficult for some parents. The Youth Mental Health Foundation’s free course helps parents gain a perspective into their child’s circumstances and play an active role in their child’s recovery.




We will be publishing an article on ‘Common myths about self-harm ‘’ in our blog very soon. This will give you a better understanding about many of the misconceptions about self-harm and how to understand your child’s self-harming in more detail – so watch this space.

P.S. Make sure you CHECK OUT the FREE resources we got available for parents of self-harming tweens and teens here:

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BOOKLET and learn how a mother led her self-harming teenage child back to health & happiness:


Learn how YOU can support your self-harming child's healing:


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