What's a parent to do about self-injurious behavior?

  • First, don't panic if you discover that your teen is injuring herself.
  • Realize that most teenagers with self-injurious behavior (SIB) are not attempting suicide.
  • You'll want to carefully address the issue with your child. It's not a behavior that requires punishment; punishment may only increase the child's negative emotions.
  • Do not judge or blame your child for what has happened.
  • Understand that many of the internal impulses are often unexplained or unrecognized by the child.
  • Try and listen to what your child has to say.
  • Hug your child if she will let you, or sit by her side.
  • Tell your child: "I am so sorry you are going through this. You must be hurting so very badly inside, and no matter what has happened in the past, I am your parent and I love you. What can I do to help?"
  • Do your homework, call a local support group, talk to your child's pediatrician and/or local social-service professional for recommendations for health-care professionals who can help your child.