So you just found out your child self-harms?
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 http://www.redballoonfamily.co.uk 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:-