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Question How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 09:34 PM

This thread has been labeled as triggering, particularly on the subject of self harm, by the original poster or by a Moderator. The contents of this thread might therefore not be suitable for certain sensitive users. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

I am in desperate need of advice. I just discovered that my 13 yo daughter is cutting herself. I don't know how long this has been going on but I found photos of her legs cut on her phone and instagram. I have done a ton of research within the last 48 hours and I understand that this must be handled delicately and with love, compassion and understanding. I am a very "accessible" mom, I don't judge and there is truly nothing my children cannot talk to me about. I am uncertain, however, how to handle some specific things. It appears that a great deal of her sh moments are due to "fights" she has with other girls on Instagram. There are girls bullying her who say horrible things to her and that seems to be the times she's been cutting and posting. From what I've read, there seems to be the opinion that we as parents should not take away her phone or internet. This is what I need some sound advice on... I'm afraid I will make the wrong decision and make things worse for her somehow. If these girls are bullying her so badly that she feels the need to sh, then I feel like she needs to be away from these accounts. But I've always believed that her Ig account and snap chat accounts were her sounding board..her place to put her feelings out there. If I take them away, will she feel worse because she doesn't have an outlet and a place to share things with her friends? Will she feel more cut off? But if I don't take them away, these other people will still have access to her and continue to make things horrible for her and make it harder for her to get past this or possibly worse. Also, many of these other girls also cut so I'm very worried about her staying in contact with people who are doing the same thing. How can you get better if your constantly surrounding yourself with others who have the same issues. I truly understand what she's going through..when I was her age, I was anorexic...that was my way of control and power. I have fought depression my whole life. To think she will have to battle this throughout her life terrifies me. I make sure my girls know that I am not perfect, I've made many mistakes and so will they. I just want to help her through this in the best possible way. Any advice would be appreciated.
   
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Re: How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 09:58 PM

Hello there, it's nice to see a concerned parent seeking advice here

First I want to say that you know your daughter best and, as her mom everything is your decision. My first question is, does she know that you know she's cutting? If not, you'll have to be careful how you approach it because she may think you've invaded her privacy (how private the internet really is and your right to view her posts as her parent may help you there). The next thing would be to talk to her about it, find out how long it's been going on and if you can, why she's doing it. A lot of times, people who do this hide their cuts, so it's interesting that she's posting pictures of them and interacting with others who do the same things. What does she get out of that?

I think the "research's objection to taking away phone, internet, privileges etc. is that it could be considered punishments and you don't want to punish her for a coping mechanism. I think there's a difference between punishing her for this and removing unhealthy influences. It's up to you whether you take the devices away, but if you do, make sure the understands it's to help her, not to punish her, and show her other, healthier ways to express herself or maybe make it a rule that she may use the sites as long as she doesn't post the pictures, again, it's your call.

Also, while it's perfectly okay to be able to relate to her, please don't immediately say that you know what she's going through, it could backfire on you because what she's dealing with may not be similar to your past experiences and that can be frustrating to approach someone who automatically assumes that they understand you when you haven't even explained yourself to them.

The last thing I will suggest is to consider seeking professional help for her. I didn't put this last for any particular reason. The best thing you can do is to be, or continue to be available and nonjudgmental towards her and to approach this as calmly as you can.


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Re: How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 10:00 PM

Hey first of all welcome to Teenhelp.

If she is getting cyber bullied and those kids that are doing the bullying are at her school go to the school and tell or the police and bring the evidence because cyber bullying is just as hurtful as in person. As for the cutting I would set her down and tell her that you have found out about her cutting and tell her that your not mad at her but your concerned and ask her to explain why she cuts so you can try and understand more. Self-harm is one of those things that if you haven't gone through it , it will be really hard to understand but if you can get her to be open and honest with you that might help.

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Re: How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 10:08 PM

Hey,

I'm so sorry that you and your daughter are going through this. I might not be the best person to answer this, but here's my thoughts...

While I'm sure the cyberbullying is making your daughter feel worse, I don't think that she would just stop cutting if her social media accounts were taken away. Self harm is something that becomes addicting, and taking away one of the causes won't necessarily end her issues with it. If you do decide to take away her social media, I think it's very important that you talk to her and explain why you feel like this is a step you have to take. Also, like I said, taking away these privileges might help, but it wouldn't fix everything. She would most likely still need a lot of care. It would be good to take her to a doctor, if you can, or her school counselor (They've been extremely helpful and kind in my experience).

Whatever you decide to do, try and stay open with your daughter as much as you can about why you're doing it and why you're concerned. It sounds like you've generally had a good relationship with her, which is good. This is going to be a long process, and she may not be up for everything you try or suggest. The best thing you can do is be there for her when she needs you, and try to do what's best.

Hope that helped a little, and good luck.

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Re: How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 10:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kate* View Post
Hello there, it's nice to see a concerned parent seeking advice here

First I want to say that you know your daughter best and, as her mom everything is your decision. My first question is, does she know that you know she's cutting? If not, you'll have to be careful how you approach it because she may think you've invaded her privacy (how private the internet really is and your right to view her posts as her parent may help you there). The next thing would be to talk to her about it, find out how long it's been going on and if you can, why she's doing it. A lot of times, people who do this hide their cuts, so it's interesting that she's posting pictures of them and interacting with others who do the same things. What does she get out of that?

I think the "research's objection to taking away phone, internet, privileges etc. is that it could be considered punishments and you don't want to punish her for a coping mechanism. I think there's a difference between punishing her for this and removing unhealthy influences. It's up to you whether you take the devices away, but if you do, make sure the understands it's to help her, not to punish her, and show her other, healthier ways to express herself or maybe make it a rule that she may use the sites as long as she doesn't post the pictures, again, it's your call.

Also, while it's perfectly okay to be able to relate to her, please don't immediately say that you know what she's going through, it could backfire on you because what she's dealing with may not be similar to your past experiences and that can be frustrating to approach someone who automatically assumes that they understand you when you haven't even explained yourself to them.

The last thing I will suggest is to consider seeking professional help for her. I didn't put this last for any particular reason. The best thing you can do is to be, or continue to be available and nonjudgmental towards her and to approach this as calmly as you can.
I'm sorry, I didn't say a few things right.. First, she doesn't actually post the photos to her accounts, they are usually sent in a group DM where only the select few can see... I found the photos in her phone gallery. And she already knew that I would be going through her phone and her accounts just a we have agreed on due to other situations that have occurred in the past. She told me last week that when I check her phone, which had been taken away temporarily due to a different issue, that I would find some things that were going to upset me. We had a VERY long girl talk, and I even spilled some things about myself at her age, mistakes that I made. We laughed and cried together. So, she won't feel like I've betrayed her privacy because we have agreements in place already. She knew she wasn't even supposed to have an instagram because of other things that have happened. She openly told me she had been back on it and I was not angry. I tell her that as long as she's honest with me, I won't get angry, we will work through things. No, she does not know that I know about the cutting yet. I don't want to make any mistake when we discuss it. I want her to know that I'm here to help. Not to cause her any additional pain. And she has been in therapy before but she was not comfortable with the therapist and would not talk with her. She just said what she needed to say to get through it and as the Therapist said "graduated" out of therapy. I intend to find someone that she will feel comfortable with but I know that if she's not ready for it, it won't work. I will not force her, as I've read that can be a very bad idea. I'm just so concerned about the influence of these people on her on Instagram.
   
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Re: How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 10:28 PM

Thank you!! Yes, we have a very close relationship. I make it clear that there is nothing they can't talk to me about. And yes, she has been cyber bullied a great deal over the last couple of years. And after all I've learned, I know not to expect this to just end. She has issues to work through. The mom in me just wants to protect her from these bullies and give her one less issue to deal with.
   
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Re: How Can I help? - January 27th 2015, 10:56 PM

Like someone already said, it's nice to see a concerned parent here.

I agree that stopping the usage of social media sites by itself won't make a huge difference, but you can always encourage her to delete her accounts (especially if she's still being bullied). Deleting the accounts can be really hard, especially if she's so used to checking them every now and then, but it'll help in the long run. Your daughter doesn't deserve to be put down by her peers.

I'm glad to hear that you're not angry about this and it's wonderful that the two of you have such a close relationship. The number one thing parents do that I disagree with, is getting angry and showing a negative reaction. This is something that will keep their kids from coming to them when they need help. Something else that I've seen done, and that has been done to me, is having a parent take away anything I can use to harm myself with. If someone wants to harm themselves, they will find something to use regardless of whether or not their tools are taken away from them.

Maybe you can go out with your daughter and talk to her over dinner, or a shopping trip. If you do it while she's able to do something fun, it might help a little more. Try not to bring it up in the car, because your daughter won't be able to take a step away if she needs to. I think you should just be honest and say that you're aware she is harming herself, and ask what you can do to help her. It also might help to ask her why she does it, because self-harm is a symptom of a larger problem. Encourage her to express herself, whether that's be keeping a blog or a journal.

You mentioned that your daughter was in therapy, and therapy can be amazing if your daughter is ready to see someone. If she does end up seeing a therapist, I suggest looking into private practice if that's an option for you. I've personally had a better experience in private practice. You can use this site to find someone in your area that specializes in self-harm.

Definitely let us know how everything goes for you!


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Re: How Can I help? - January 29th 2015, 07:32 PM

Thank you so much for your advice.. I am definitely taking it all into consideration so that when I talk to her she will not feel threatened or as though she's done something "wrong". I truly appreciate the input and any further advice you have to offer is gratefully accepted. I know that I cannot remove all "tools" from her access, so I will not even try. I plan to encourage her to take each day as a goal, not to worry about next week, next month, etc. Just go day by day and try to say, I will not sh today. Hopefully the times get greater that she will not harm herself... It's just heartbreaking to see that she's going through this...
   
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Re: How Can I help? - January 29th 2015, 09:56 PM

Everyone here seems to have already said everything there is to be said. I suppose the only thing I'm going to add, is that when I was living with my parents, and I SH'd I wouldn't have been so careless as to leave pictures on my phone knowing my parents would have seen them. Maybe this was her way of reaching out to you. A small plea for help if you will. Maybe she has been doing this longer than you realize, and that she truly wants to seek help. I would be 100% honest with her the entire time through this situation and always take her opinion in to consideration, but keep in mind you are the Parent, and that she may not agree with all the choices you are going to make, but that only you alone can make them. I hope everything gets better for you, and if you need anything feel free to IM or PM me anytime.


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