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Discovering that your child is engaging in self-harm can be a heart-wrenching and confusing experience for any parent. While it’s natural to feel shocked and concerned, it’s essential to respond with understanding, compassion, and a commitment to providing the support your child needs. In this blog, we will discuss how to support your child who is self-harming, offering guidance and resources to help both you and your child navigate this challenging journey.

1. Open Communication

The first step in supporting your child is to create an open and non-judgmental space for communication. Let them know that you are there to listen without criticism or blame. Encourage them to share their feelings and experiences, even if it’s difficult for them.

2. Educate Yourself

Take the time to educate yourself about self-harm. Understand that it is often a coping mechanism for emotional pain or distress. Knowledge will help you approach the situation with empathy rather than fear.

3. Avoid Punishment

Avoid reacting with anger, punishment, or guilt-tripping. Self-harm is typically not a choice but a sign of underlying emotional turmoil. Punishment can exacerbate their distress and make them less likely to seek help.

4. Seek Professional Help

Self-harm is a complex issue that often requires professional intervention. Consult a mental health specialist, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, who specialises in adolescent mental health. They can help assess your child’s emotional state and recommend appropriate treatment options.

5. Create a Safety Plan

Work with your child and their mental health professional to create a safety plan. This plan should include strategies to cope with emotional distress and alternatives to self-harm. Having a plan in place can provide a sense of security for both you and your child.

6. Be careful about Removing Harmful Objects

If your child has specific objects or tools they use for self-harm, your instinct will be to remove them, however, this can sometimes create more harm. While a child may have a preferred method of harm, if you remove this it will force them to use a new method which they may not be as familiar with which can create more risk. Ensure your child’s surroundings are as safe as possible but always speak to them about their methods of harm and how to limit risk.

7. Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Help your child explore and develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing their emotions. Encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy, such as sports, art, or music. These outlets can provide a constructive way to release emotional tension.

8. Offer Emotional Support

Reinforce your love and support for your child. Reassure them that you are committed to helping them through this challenging time. Offer hugs, comforting words, and a shoulder to lean on.

9. Support Groups

Consider seeking out support groups for both your child and yourself. These groups can provide a sense of community and shared experiences, offering valuable insights and coping strategies.

10. Monitor Progress

Track your child’s progress with the help of their mental health professional. Celebrate their achievements, no matter how small, and be patient with setbacks. Recovery is often a gradual process.


Supporting a child who is self-harming is a delicate and emotionally demanding journey. Remember that you are not alone; there are resources and professionals available to guide you. With love, understanding, and the right support, you can help your child navigate through their struggles and work towards healing and recovery. Your unwavering support can be a lifeline for them during this challenging time.