I think that being a parent of teens can be quite terrifying. Never has the world been more connected and yet families are becoming more disconnected. Children are subject to many influences each day through social media. Trends spread like wildfire. In my experience, people cut for several reasons:
- They do not have the coping skills for dealing with strong emotions
- They may feel worthless and angry with themselves and therefore cut to release the pain
- They may make mistakes and cut to punish themselves
- Some feel emotionally numb and the pain from cutting is temporally stimulating
- Their families are in turmoil and the cutting releases anxiety. They may be the ones that are showing stress because of what is going on in the family circle
- They have periods of intense sadness and seem disconnected
- There friends are doing it, so they try it and become almost addicted to the sensation and adrenaline rush
Primarily, cutting is a maladaptive response to emotional problems and should not be taken lightly. Your teenager could also be suffering from symptoms of depression and should be checked out by a mental health professional. Cognitive behavioural therapy may help to change thoughts and behaviors. Do not just hope that they will “grow out of it”. They need to learn better coping skills and the matter should be immediately addressed. With better coping skills, their symptoms can be remedied.
Keep the lines of communication open with your teen. Have open discussions with them. Canvas their opinions. Practice empathy. If you are cutting, talk to your parents and ask for their help.