What is considered self harm and how can I get my kid to stop it?

Date: 07/06/2023

Title: What is considered self harm and how do I get my kid to stop it?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
Hello. Your 14 year old daughter is drawing on her skin and picking her feet. Is that self harm?
Well, we're going to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed
marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live
happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization,
child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woolen Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon,
I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. Recently,
my 14 year old daughter has taken to drawing on herself and picking the skin off the bottom of
her feet. I've heard that this could be a form of self harm. As far as I can see, she's not cutting
herself or doing anything like that. I'm wondering if I should be worried, though, also. It's
just kind of gross. Any techniques to get her to stop. Thank you for your question. So what is
self harm? For those of you just watching

00:01:07 Speaker 1
going, well, what is self harm? Self harm is basically the intentional injuring of someone's
skin, someone's body without the intention of suicide. Suicide is generally not a part of self
harm. I'm not saying it can't be, but generally suicide and self harm are two separate entities.
Self harm is very serious. Self harm could include things like cutting oneself, burning oneself,
scratching oneself, bang your head against the wall. It's not an exhaustive list right there,
but those are some common things that you may want to consider. So the good news is you're not
seeing any evidence of that. If you were seeing evidence of her cutting herself, burning herself,
scratching herself, you need to get her to see a therapist right away. That's something that's
important to deal with and it doesn't just heal and go away on its own. It's not just a phase. So
the good news is she's drawing on herself. My question is, what is she drawing? Is she drawing,
like, lines as if they were cuts? If they are,

00:02:06 Speaker 1
that may be a red flag. Because one of the treatments of cutting is having the person draw themselves
the red marks instead of cutting, they're drawing. It's not the end game. It's not where they
want to be, but it's the step to get there. So if she's cutting herself that looks like I'm sorry.
If she's drawing herself that looks like cutting, that's something you might want to explore
with her a little more. But if she's drawing anime pictures, if she's drawing words, and if it's
just art like tattooing, that may not be a form of self harm. That may just be boredom or just basic
anxiety, much like someone who's picking their nose, biting their nails, twirling their hair.
This may be in that ballpark. And if it is, that's a much better ballpark to be in than self harm.
So how do you help this girl. What I would do is first talk to her about it, see how she feels about
it. She may be doing it unconsciously. She may not even realize she's doing it. But that means
we need to get her something

00:03:13 Speaker 1
that she can focus on. If this is a possible outlet of boredom and mild anxiety, let's channel
some of this into healthy creative outlets. Healthy physical outlets could be like knitting.
Knitting, I found for so many clients, especially girl clients, really get into knitting as
this really positive outlet for them. And in fact, in fact, many clients have had who've had
trichotillomania, which is the hair pulling, this obsessive pulling of hair. When they get
into knitting, they stop pulling their hair. So I think that's an effective way to treat it.
So it could be knitting. It could be having her go outside and shoot hoops in the basketball hoop
in the front yard could be helping her walk the dog more, drawing more. Get that girl some paper
and pens and let her go at it and have a great time. Maybe that she's bored and she's not having
enough social interaction, getting her socially involved, there's a lot of ways to get her
into these things. Also, if she's picking her feet and it's causing

00:04:11 Speaker 1
scabs and sores, you can help her understand that. But if she's not really feeling a problem
with it, if she goes, my feet don't hurt. You may have to wait till her feet hurt. It's not the end
of the world that she's picking the skin on her feet. I know it's kind of gross, but you may deal
with it like you would picking your nose. Hey, you can't pick your feet at the dinner table. I'm
sorry. It's just unacceptable. Please go wash your hands. If you feel that the talk with her
about this is really difficult, again, possibly seeking a therapist to help bridge the gap
may be effective with this. What else? I want to say one more thing. I'm forgetting it. See, when
you go live, you just never know what you're going to forget. But as soon as I hit off oh, I forgot
to say this. Anyways, I can't remember what it is. We're just going to continue. That's kind
of how I'd approach it. I just feel like that last thing is going to come, but it's not coming.
So I'm just going to wrap it up again. My

00:05:06 Speaker 1
name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and challenging counseling. This is tips on teens.
If you have a question you like me to answer, email us at tipsonteans@teentherapycenter.com.
If you have any comments on this, feel free to make comments below. We love your comments. Thanks
for sharing. I will see you next Wednesday at Face Book live at noon. Thanks again. See you later,
guys. Bye.

What Is Self Harm?

Self harm is the intentional injuring of someon’s skin or body, generally without the intention of suicide. It’s serious, and can include behaviors such as cutting, burning or scratching oneself among other things. If your child is engaging in these kinds of behaviors, you should most likely get them in to see a therapist right away. 

If your kid is drawing on themself, the question may be what is your kid drawing? Is it art or pictures? In that case, it may just be a sign of boredom. If she’s drawing something that seems to show an intention of self harm in some way, then again, perhaps seeing a therapist is advisable.

Get That Kid a Paper and Pencil!

As usual, ideally you need to get her to talk about it! Find out what’s going on and get her something else to focus on. Ideally try to find a way for her to channel that energy into healthy creative or physical outlets. In our practice we see lots of kids getting into knitting as an outlet for this kind of energy.

There’s more to say on the subject of self harm, and we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:

“Recently my fourteen year old daughter has taken to drawing on herself and picking the skin off the bottom of her feet. I’ve heard that this could be a form of self harm. As far as I can see she’s not cutting herself or doing anything like that. I’m wondering if I should be worried though. Also, it’s just kind of gross! Any techniques to get her to stop?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.