Self Harm Advice

So you just found out your child self-harms?

Don’t Panic!!

M.A.S.H. Mums have been there and know how you are feeling right now. You may be feeling shocked, sick, scared; angry even! But just hold on and collect your thoughts…..

What should you do?

Here are some very important DO’S and DON’TS which we hope you find useful. Trust me, I made lots of mistakes right at the beginning of our family journey and this blog is intended to help you not to do the same.

  • DON’T hide all the sharp objects and take the door off your child’s room. No one can make a harmer ‘get better’. Hiding sharp objects, medicines or anything else thought to be harmful will not stop someone from hurting him or herself
  • DON’T  ask your child ‘Why?’  Harmers may not understand why they do it.
  • DON’T ask your child to stop. They usually turn to something else, maybe even more harmful, in its place.
  • DON’T jump to conclusions. Many people suppose that the harmer has ‘mental health’ issues. However for the vast majority of harmers it is an emotional difficultly- an expression of difficult or unbearable emotions.
  • DON’T be afraid of professional help.
  • DON’T: Run around like a headless chicken and tell all your friends. They may understand or be sympathetic but all sorts of well-meaning people can give the wrong advice or be insensitive.


  • Do: offer to help your child, offer to listen. They may well say ‘no’ but they will learn that they can come to you when they are ready.
  • Do: Remember they will not know why they do what they do.
  • Do: offer to bathe wounds & provide comfort once any incident is over. Most harmers don’t feel the pain at the time but do genuinely feel it afterwards.
  • Do: offer unconditional love. They need to know this even when they have trashed your home and scared the living daylights out of you.
  • Do: try always to build them up and encourage them through every small step.
  • Do: find yourself a discreet friend to talk to. Someone who has been through similar experience would be ideal. This is what MASH is for.
  • Do speak to professionals. Your GP or school can refer your child to local therapists or counsellors. Most young people get referred to CAMHS (Child and Mental Health Services).  I found my school Child Protection Officer to be an excellent source of help and encouragement.
  • DO find out about self-harm. There are excellent websites linked to this blog which we hope you will find useful.
  • DO feel free to join MASH; tell us your story, read other peoples’ stories, ask your questions and raise points which are of concern to you. 
  • DO find help locally. Anyone living in the Loughton Essex area might be interested in our new SUPPORT GROUPS, details of which may be found on  Our vision is to see more support groups across the UK, so please register your details on the red balloon family website. 

Here’s a very helpful resource:-

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5 Responses to Self Harm Advice

  1. I would also encourage the following which is what I have done with my daughter who self-cut for years and it helped her to express herself in new creative ways without harming herself.
    1. Encourage them to use magic market (perm or washable) to write anywhere or whatever they want on their body in place of cutting. They will write words that are very deep, dark and scary at times, but it is a form of expressing what they can’t in other ways.
    2. Encourage them to write their thoughts and feelings through musical lyrics, raps, poetry. It can be in any form. Ask them to share if they feel comfortable enough, with a close and trusted friend who also like creative works.
    3. Give them a photography assignment. Have them take pictures of themselves or of object or words and allow them to go on a editing photography site such as and see them use creativity with the editing to show another side of their thoughts and feelings and emotions of their daily struggle or hurt or pain.
    4. Paint half of their room with black chalkboard paint. I did this along with a wall with white marker board. Give them chaik or markers (depending on what medium paint you used) and encourage them to draw pictures, write poetry or anything that speaks to them on an emotional level.
    5. Ask them to listen to 30 days of Christian music and then at the end of the 30 days, write out what spoke to them the most and what changes did they feel that spoke to them the most. My daughter loved rap, screamo, and rock that was on the dark side. By doing the 30 days, what she noticed the most was a peacefulness that she never experienced before along with a hope that she never thought she could have. It changed her life.
    I hope and pray that some of these coping skills will minister to your teens. Even when it seems that they are finally out of the self-harm, be expected to have them fall back into it once in a while because for some, they have been using the coping skill of self-harm for a long time. My daughter has been set free from it for about 1.5 years with two small set-backs. But she continues to grow and mature and find new ways of coping whenever she hits a storm of uncertainty. God bless!


  2. asha says:

    Thank you so much for your advice and support. My daughter certainly used Art and creative activities to cope with her problems. Sometimes, even though we encourage this process, it can be frightening for parents, I remember once when my daughter drew a picture of an eye. I told her I thought it was beautiful but she challenged me to look closer and in the eyeball was a horrible image of a girl dying, It was explained to me that she was merely ‘processing’ her fears and feelings but it was quite shocking for me. Be prepared and don’t judge or criticize is all I can advise if you come across something like this. I have heard of other coping methods which I will write about later.


    • Yes, my daughter would take images of her reflection in a butcher knife. Then add black and red tears staining the picture. It didn’t upset me because I knew that she was expressing something that she couldn’t verbally share because it was too painful. She would show me her pics and I would let her know that the creativity in what she shared was very deep and even dark. But that was her point. She needed me to see how she was feeling and it opened a communication door that wasn’t before. She went on an adventure with all of these ideas but in the end, she found that she could express herself in a whole new way without self-harming and she gained confidence and bravery amidst her depression and anxiety. She has been free of cutting for over a year and now when she gets upset, she uses one of the tools that I showed her. She has really matured.

      Liked by 1 person

      • asha says:

        I like the way you express your daughter’s processing as an ‘adventure’. I was so out of my depth when my daughter was self harming because I knew nothing about it at all and was at the mercy of psychiatrists who were mostly concerned with her birth family’s mental health conditions. i didn’t dare tell them what she was doing in case it strengthened their suspicions that she may have a personality disorder. Eventually she told me that she acted out a lot of stuff that she thought her Mum must have done and tried to be like her to see how it must have felt being mentally ill. I understood this better than anything else. She has done a lot of acting and her chosen characters were always on the dark side, but now she has really come out of all that and is a completely different person. She has matured and become a lot of fun too. I hope that this new phase at Acting school will prove to be a wonderful time for her. You must be so proud of your daughter and how she has matured. Thank you for sharing. God Bless xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is normal behavior for what she had been through and to act out. My daughter use to try to scare the psychiatrist by talking about loving blood and and dead people. She was a trip! I can laugh about it now and I even shook my head at her for doing that, but it was her way of coping to being confronted with the issues that were hurting her. That was a school psychiatrist and not one that I had chosen. In the end, it was her way of dealing with how she felt and yes, she is definitely in a different place but boy oh boy, the things they did I gained a lot more white hairs on my head because of it. And I too also see a huge fun side to her now as well. God’s steadfast love and patience saw us through. Bless you!


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