Archive for April, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Who actually self-mutilates?

Most people up until about five years ago had never even heard of “cutters” or “emo”. However, the lingo always changes as do the behaviors of kids/teens and how they express themselves. Truly the number of young people (preteens and teens) that are the group that primarily cut themselves is growing by leaps and bounds. Self-harm is rarely an act of suicide, however it is a cry for help for the person that is abusing themselves by cutting. Teens that self-mutilate usually either cut themselves, burn themselves, pick at their skin, or pull their hair out (this is called trichotillomania). Approximately two million people in the United States are injuring themselves right now and are doing so as a way to cope with an overwhelming situation or feelings that they are not quite sure what to do with. Unfortunately, injuring yourself becomes quite addicting and professional help is often needed in order to stop engaging in this very addictive behavior.

People that injure themselves have some very common traits with each other:
they typically have a co-existing disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, an eating disorder, or a substance abuse problem.
they usually have a support group that is limited or non-existent and have no one to talk to about what is going on in their life. In other words, they feel isolated.
they typically have not been allowed in their life to express themselves, whether it is with anger or crying and have bottled up all of their feelings.
they have poor coping skills and when times get tough, they do not have the tools necessary to deal with the crisis or stressor.

The truth is that people that self-harm scare the people around them and their family/friends are usually at a loss of what to do or say to them. I have found that parents/caregivers do not understand why their loved one would actually harm themselves. The key to helping them is to: encourage them to find a professional counselor or psychologist, let them know that you care and are there for them, encourage them to express themselves openly and honestly, and don’t tell them to stop the behavior (this only reinforces their feelings of helplessness.) Remember, self-injury is addicting and is not so easy to “just stop.” For the person that is self-injuring, the very first step is to acknowledge that their is a problem and this is not about being a “bad person”, this is about getting the help you need in order to learn to cope with stressors more effectively.

PostHeaderIcon How do we bring out the best in our kids?

Parents often wonder how to bring out the best in their children in order to produce the best possible child that they can. While consistent parenting, discipline, and communication are all keys to this, here are a few tips on bringing out the best possible child that you can.

1.) Have regular family meetings, dinners, or family game night with your child/children. We have all seen the commercials on T.V. about the importance of family dinners or having a family game night. Well folks, this time that we spend with our kids is really that important. Here is your chance to show an interest in what your child is doing and to ask questions about what is going on in their life. Ask about their friends and what is going on at school. By doing so, parents can often avoid their child later on turning into the quiet; withdrawn or surly teenager that tells their parents virtually NOTHING about what is going on in their life. This usually is not a good thing for parents or the teen!!
2.) Monitor the television shows that your child is watching. Reduce the amount of T.V. and watch for shows that have alot of violent content in them. Set a curfew for your child and always know where and with whom your child currently is. Trouble usually occurs when parents do not know where their child is and with whom.
3.) If you see that your child is struggling with self-control or anger problems, then by all means enroll them in a class on anger management, social skills, or how to make friends. These groups are usually available through schools, churches, or the local YMCA. Anger that is left untreated children, almost always becomes a bigger problem later on.
4.) Try to do things together with your child that your child enjoys. Praise your child as often as possible and by all means encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Ask them how their day went at school. Communication on your child’s developmental level goes a very long way with letting your child know that you take an interest in them. (even when your child tells you that they did nothing all day long at school!)
5.) If you find out that your child is having problems at school in getting along with other kids or in bullying others, then by all means talk to your child and your child’s teacher about their behaviors. Communication and dealing with issues as they come up is the key in avoiding problems later on down the road. And of course, implement reasonable and age-appropriate consequences for behavior as discipline problems come up.