Teenage years are a very volatile and unpredictable time in a child’s life. They are too old to be considered children but still too young and lacking frontal lobe development to be considered adults. Frankly many parents are not fundamentally aware of the inherent distinction between the two stages, nor do they realize that they progression from child to adulthood is gradual. At this stage of life their hormones begin to go haywire as they prepare to cruise into adulthood. Often things such as peer pressure, bullying, disagreements, abuse and just plain ignorance can derail this tenuous progression for teens.
At this stage of the life teens require lots of understanding and patience. Teen counseling can be very helpful to ensure that the chosen path into adulthood is navigated effectively. So many things can derail their progress that it’s a constant battle to make sure your words don’t fall on deaf ears. When teens find themselves in untenable situations sometimes they resort to self-harming.
Self-harming may include taking legal and illegal drugs, cutting themselves or engaging in high-risk activities. Self-harming is a coping mechanism for dealing with pain, disappointment, neglect or abuse. When a teen is self-harming it is very seldom that they will share this information with parents or guardians. This is when you know the situation has become untenable and has really pushed your teen to this extreme. Teens usually cut themselves in places that will not be easily visible like the arm and upper thighs that can be covered by long sleeves and pants.
It is paramount these at-risk teens get counseling before their self-harming behaviors lead to a more serious situation like them seriously or permanently hurting themselves or others. Listening is the most important step when undertaking counseling of teens. Most often teens will continue self-harming when they feel that parents are judgmental and hypocritical towards them or lay blame on the teen for situations beyond their emotional capacity.
Tips for parents include being supportive in a nonjudgmental way and take your teen seriously. Never trivialize the situation although you may become frustrated with your teenager. Teens need to know someone is listening and that they have an outlet to air their frustrations and disappointment.
We recommend seeking counseling anytime self-harm becomes evident to have a professional assess the level of support needed to help your teen overcome their difficulty managing the emotions of the teen years.