Kids/Teens inflict injury upon themselves for a variety of reasons. I often hear parents tell me that they have no idea why their teen is cutting themselves and are in disbelief that he/she is doing this to themself.
The reasons that a teen cuts themselves are as follows:
They cut in order to regain control because physical pain is much easier to control than emotional/mental pain.
Cutting reduces tension in their body and mind.
They cut in order to punish themselves as they most likely feel bad, sad, angry, ugly, fat, stupid, etc… (this is about the teen perceives themself not how others may actually perceive them).
To express anger or rape when words may be too painful for them to express.
To feel pain, as many teens will tell me that it is better to feel something than nothing. This makes them feel alive as many teens say that they feel “invisible” at home or at school.
What can teens do to help themselves stop cutting? First of all, self-mutilation is a very negative way of coping with life stressors and the first step for any kid/teen is to first acknowledge that they have a problem. Teens that cut are hurting on the inside and professional help is almost always needed in order to stop this behavior. Cutting is like any other addiction, it is very difficult to stop once you start doing it. Secondly, the teen with the help of a professional needs to realize that they are not a bad person because they cut. Cutting is a “bad behavior”, it does NOT mean that the teen is a bad person. Cutting is about finding a way to deal with your feelings, albeit a negative one. Thirdly, to deal with cutting behaviors, a teen must talk to someone about their feelings. Finding someone to trust in order to deal with your feelings is crucial to working through this addiction. With the help of a counselor, you and your therapist together can determine what triggers your cutting behavior. In other words, we have to identify what things to avoid that make you want to cut and address them.
Recognizing that hurting oneself is really a way for a teenager to self-soothe helps in the recovery process. A professional will help in developing more effective ways in calming you down as well as soothing yourself when you become upset. Lastly, it is very important to figure out what purpose cutting yourself serves you. In order to stop cutting, the act of injuring oneself must be replaced with a more effective way to handle feelings of unhappiness and anger.
Qualified professional help is almost always required in order to stop this addictive behavior. Find a therapist that understands this behavior and knows the steps in order to deal with this type of problem.