Teen Girls: A Crash Course

Conflict, communication, and connection with your daughter

Stressed Out Teen Girls: Cutting to Cope

While self-harming is not a new phenomenon, cutting is showing a disturbing rise in popularity. Eager to please, overly stressed teen girls are at risk. Read More

Teens Cutting to Cope

Dr. Hemmen,
I have just recently learned that my 12yr. granddaughter(my husband and I are her legal guardians, along w/her two older sisters for the past 12 yrs now)is cutting herself.
Last week her middle school counselor brought to our attention as her school mate told the counselor she was fearful for my granddaughter. As I read your article regarding this subject, I am still absorbing the reality of it all, I tried to tie in the stressors that may be driving my granddaughter's reason to cut to cope.
When I have spoken with her, I have mentioned to her how much she is loved, and other positive realities in her life, but unfortunately she does not see it that way. "You don't understand my feeling!" is a common response. She also approached this evening and stated that she lied initially, she confessed that she has done several times last year, and that she has felt suicidal at times. This IS really SCARY. I have been placed on a "waiting" list so to speak to have her seen by some one with a local child behavior \ counseling center. My granddaughter is a returning patient, and due to her cutting issue, they assured me I would be "worked" in shortly. It has only been a week so far. What other things should I be doing for her right now?
thank you, Nervous Grandma.

I too am a grandmom raising

I too am a grandmom raising my 14yr old granddaughter who recently attempted suicide. She has depression and anxiety also. At this time I found out she was cutting. After her inpatient hospital stay, she came home and 2 days later came to me and said I cut myself and showed me. I said to her thank you for telling me this and talked about what led up to this before she cut. She told me and it is her mother and always has been. I sat with my granddaughter and set up limitations and informed her that I love her so much I need to keep her safe. There are no locked doors, and body checks daily. Also we set up short term goals that if she doesn't cut in a two week period, she can reward herself for doing a fine job and keeping the communication open between us. So tomorrow will be her first 2 weeks and if there is no cutting her friend is coming over and we will rent movies and have a wonderful evening. I also gave her my wedding rings to wear and taught her that when she has these feeling of cutting/depression and being overwhelmed, she is to turn the rings, think about momom and that these feeling will eventually go away and to think that she can do this and I am with her all the time. So far this one technique has helped. We do have her in counseling and go weekly. Also she is on medication which will also start working.

I myself don't understand the cutting and the relief it gives and helps them feel better, but I can say that she shares all the time and I support her in everything that happens whether she cuts again or is so depressed not wanting to get out of bed. These past 2 weeks have taught me so much but I can say by supporting my granddaughter and not judging her for cutting has given her some relief and she confides in me all the time. I am still doing research and reaching out to counselors for effective ways to cope and deal with her sadness about her mother and how she is treating her. But I do believe that this will get better because everyday my granddaughter is trying and everyday when she does not cut and tries to help herself I reward her with love and say I am so proud of you we made it through today. I take one day at a time and this is working right now. I am blessed that my granddaughter talks to me about this and I listen and continue to help her through this terrible time in life. One thing I reinforced daily was that she would tell me what she is feeling, did not cut and one response I give her is that whow you are feeling this emotion and you did not cut, this is great good job. She smiled and said you are right momom I am sad about my mom but I did not cut so this is good, I can feel. We squeeze and celebrate daily with whatever emotion she has for the day.

There is no guarantee but I know I will never understand but I will keep trying and I am so lucky that she confides in me and allows me to help in anyway I can. Communication and being non judmental is the key. Times are different today than when I was growing up but this is what children do today. It is very common and many of her friends also do the cutting, I was astounded. Keep the faith and support your grandchild anyway you can. I am lucky that my granddaughter shares with me the good and the bad.
Do not give up, stay strong and positive.

I too am a grandmom raising

I too am a grandmom raising my 14yr old granddaughter who recently attempted suicide. She has depression and anxiety also. At this time I found out she was cutting. After her inpatient hospital stay, she came home and 2 days later came to me and said I cut myself and showed me. I said to her thank you for telling me this and talked about what led up to this before she cut. She told me and it is her mother and always has been. I sat with my granddaughter and set up limitations and informed her that I love her so much I need to keep her safe. There are no locked doors, and body checks daily. Also we set up short term goals that if she doesn't cut in a two week period, she can reward herself for doing a fine job and keeping the communication open between us. So tomorrow will be her first 2 weeks and if there is no cutting her friend is coming over and we will rent movies and have a wonderful evening. I also gave her my wedding rings to wear and taught her that when she has these feeling of cutting/depression and being overwhelmed, she is to turn the rings, think about momom and that these feeling will eventually go away and to think that she can do this and I am with her all the time. So far this one technique has helped. We do have her in counseling and go weekly. Also she is on medication which will also start working.

I myself don't understand the cutting and the relief it gives and helps them feel better, but I can say that she shares all the time and I support her in everything that happens whether she cuts again or is so depressed not wanting to get out of bed. These past 2 weeks have taught me so much but I can say by supporting my granddaughter and not judging her for cutting has given her some relief and she confides in me all the time. I am still doing research and reaching out to counselors for effective ways to cope and deal with her sadness about her mother and how she is treating her. But I do believe that this will get better because everyday my granddaughter is trying and everyday when she does not cut and tries to help herself I reward her with love and say I am so proud of you we made it through today. I take one day at a time and this is working right now. I am blessed that my granddaughter talks to me about this and I listen and continue to help her through this terrible time in life. One thing I reinforced daily was that she would tell me what she is feeling, did not cut and one response I give her is that whow you are feeling this emotion and you did not cut, this is great good job. She smiled and said you are right momom I am sad about my mom but I did not cut so this is good, I can feel. We squeeze and celebrate daily with whatever emotion she has for the day.

There is no guarantee but I know I will never understand but I will keep trying and I am so lucky that she confides in me and allows me to help in anyway I can. Communication and being non judmental is the key. Times are different today than when I was growing up but this is what children do today. It is very common and many of her friends also do the cutting, I was astounded. Keep the faith and support your grandchild anyway you can. I am lucky that my granddaughter shares with me the good and the bad.
Do not give up, stay strong and positive.

I too am a grandmom raising

I too am a grandmom raising my 14yr old granddaughter who recently attempted suicide. She has depression and anxiety also. At this time I found out she was cutting. After her inpatient hospital stay, she came home and 2 days later came to me and said I cut myself and showed me. I said to her thank you for telling me this and talked about what led up to this before she cut. She told me and it is her mother and always has been. I sat with my granddaughter and set up limitations and informed her that I love her so much I need to keep her safe. There are no locked doors, and body checks daily. Also we set up short term goals that if she doesn't cut in a two week period, she can reward herself for doing a fine job and keeping the communication open between us. So tomorrow will be her first 2 weeks and if there is no cutting her friend is coming over and we will rent movies and have a wonderful evening. I also gave her my wedding rings to wear and taught her that when she has these feeling of cutting/depression and being overwhelmed, she is to turn the rings, think about momom and that these feeling will eventually go away and to think that she can do this and I am with her all the time. So far this one technique has helped. We do have her in counseling and go weekly. Also she is on medication which will also start working.

I myself don't understand the cutting and the relief it gives and helps them feel better, but I can say that she shares all the time and I support her in everything that happens whether she cuts again or is so depressed not wanting to get out of bed. These past 2 weeks have taught me so much but I can say by supporting my granddaughter and not judging her for cutting has given her some relief and she confides in me all the time. I am still doing research and reaching out to counselors for effective ways to cope and deal with her sadness about her mother and how she is treating her. But I do believe that this will get better because everyday my granddaughter is trying and everyday when she does not cut and tries to help herself I reward her with love and say I am so proud of you we made it through today. I take one day at a time and this is working right now. I am blessed that my granddaughter talks to me about this and I listen and continue to help her through this terrible time in life. One thing I reinforced daily was that she would tell me what she is feeling, did not cut and one response I give her is that whow you are feeling this emotion and you did not cut, this is great good job. She smiled and said you are right momom I am sad about my mom but I did not cut so this is good, I can feel. We squeeze and celebrate daily with whatever emotion she has for the day.

There is no guarantee but I know I will never understand but I will keep trying and I am so lucky that she confides in me and allows me to help in anyway I can. Communication and being non judmental is the key. Times are different today than when I was growing up but this is what children do today. It is very common and many of her friends also do the cutting, I was astounded. Keep the faith and support your grandchild anyway you can. I am lucky that my granddaughter shares with me the good and the bad.
Do not give up, stay strong and positive.

daughter's friend cuts & confides in me

I have a teen daughter and a couple years ago we moved out of state away from her best friend. We have flown the friend out on a few occasions and they stay in touch and have a grand time together. However, the friend has been cutting. I don't know the details of her situation but understand that there has been some form of abuse in her past. She has confided in me and text messages me about suicidal thoughts and cutting. She has been seeing a counselor, but it sounds like there are things she may be telling me that she doesn't tell the counselor. I've been encouraging her that she is loved and has such a bright future. We are both Christians and I have given her some scriptures to read and prayed with her. I really want to help her, but don't know how other than continued encouragement. She's several states away from us, so visiting is difficult and expensive.

cutting

I used to cut myself. The reason that i cut was because of sexual abuse when i was little, and sexual abuse by a guy that i have known my entire life.
Cutting does not only let us cope. but it gives us a sense of feeling. i don't know how to tell what i am feeling. i don't like to explain it. i have seen two counselors, and i did not like either of them. i know that it is something i can not change, but i don't like to be asked how i feel. when i cut. I feel relieved. the blood that dripped down my wrist, was comforting. not understandable, but it was. it gave me the sense of knowing how i felt. and i felt relieved, and in pain from the razor slicing my skin open. It felt good though.
My friends, when they found out, did not help me at all, they just told everyone (including me) that i was "emo". and other kids would yell in the middle of a crowd, "alyssa, you cut yourself?!" it would be embarrassing, but i would just come up with a lie. like i crashed my quad into a fence and it cut me. and they would believe me because i would not let them see up close.
It became almost like a game of hide and go seek, tag. I hid the cuts and scars, and if someone seen i would run. I was told im depressed. and one of the guys that abused me overdosed. I felt bad. and he abused me again. I tried to convince him of reasons why he should leave. but he didn't care.
Cutting helped to get my mind off from all of this. I hate that people look at me different now that they know i used to cut myself. and a lot of people dont think it is an addiction. but it is, and it is hard to stop. like smoking or drinking. (i also have a drinking addiction). my mom does not know about. when i see alcohol, i want it. and i dont just want a little bit of it. i want a lot of it. so that my memories will go away. weather i remember that night or not.
I am very irritable. if someone that i dont like walks into the room, im automatically annoyed. they dont even have to say anything. but i dont act on it. i just act like i dont care. because im supposed to be the "nice" girl. Im not supposed to stand up for myself. im supposed to let people walk all over me.
Not as easy as people think. and its not as easy as my family thinks either. highschool, friends, parties, peer pressure, they all affect me. my weakness is alcohol and razors. But after alcohol i cant remember anything and i feel gross, because i know that i had sex with a guy because usually they let me know afterwards. and with cutting, the cuts last a long time.

thanx author

I really want to thank the author for writing this. In most blogs and stuff they just mostly scip the 'start' part. I felt like it was just stupid and attention seeking because I was fascinated by it and did know what I started. That's also part of the reason I don't really feel like seeking help (and I sort of like that I'm doing it (stupid huh?)). That more girls start the way I do and have the same things and stuff really help me. Most places they just call it 'to relief great emotional pain' and than I get mad because I feel like I'm a poser also because I'm doing pretty well in life getting good grates and making my way up to university and all and having the discipline to actually accomplish things. And you helped me feel less alone and less mad at my self.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH

Boys Cut Too

What people don't seem to realize that cutting is prevelant among boys too. They don't disregard it, however they usually don't acknowledge it. For example, this article itself SPECIFIES girls. It specifies girls and focuses on a girl, and constantly brings up the stressors of girls.

Boys may cut themselves far less frequently than girls, but it is still an issue. A boy's place in society and his psychology and his adolescent development are all different from a girl's. I believe because of this, they should recieve attention to find out why they do it. It may not be far off from a girl's, but should still be studied and written about.

By constantly specifying girls, people tend to associate cutting with girls. If they hear of a boy doing it, they will take it far less seriously. They will view it with disdain and scorn. I have personally seen it happen. Writers of articles like these should explain that it happens across both genders.

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Lucie Hemmen, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and author of the book Parenting a Teen Girl.

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