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Author Topic: 14 year old son  (Read 786 times)
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ange
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« on: April 09, 2012, 01:10:48 PM »

Our 14 year old son started to self harm around 6 weeks ago. We found out within a couple of days of the first incident and he has done this about 4 times since. The latest being 10 days ago, during a lesson in school. We were called to school and brought him home, but he didn't seem to understand what all the fuss was about as by the time we got there he said he felt fine. He has talked with a teacher and some issues have come to light, which we have done our best to reassure him about, the teacher has also found out from friends that around the time of the first incident he had talked with them about suicide. He has said over the last few weeks that he no longer feels like that and that he does not want to self harm again. He does not know what led him to cut himself in class. In every other way he seems to be fine, he does not appear to us to be in a low mood. It's hard to discuss how he's been feeling when he says he's Ok, but clearly something still isn't right. He has a CAMHS appointment for early May.
We dont know what to do for the best at the moment. Do we just carry on as normal whilst he seems Ok and hasn't harmed again, always giving him the option of talking with us if he needs to. We have discussed alternatives to self harm but asked if he could come to us first if he needs to harm so he can help him with an alternative. Is this the right thing to do? Or would that be taking some of his control away? Also he is due to go on a camping weekend next month, our gut feeling is not to let him go so we can keep a close eye on him, but would this seem to him to be punishing him for harming? He is sure he still wants to go and that he'll be OK. He has a good supportive group of school friends but they will not be with him and no-one at the camp will be aware of what has been happening.
Any advice anyone can give us would be gratefully received.
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greenday
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 08:54:50 PM »

hay im 16 and life is hard im like your son ya i still sh but freinds r a graet way to talk to if he feels like he need to talk to some one  littlehug2
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jackgrillo
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 09:30:16 PM »



(a bit of background - I started s/h at around 9, did it for a couple of years, and then it came back when I was around 16)

Firstly, it must be a difficult position to find yourself in. I can't imagine how hard it is to have someone you love so much as you would a son harm.

I think it's important not to make him feel like harming is a bad thing. I know it's not brilliant, but it is a coping mechanism. He also, from your description of how he has said he will come to you, seems to realise that it's not the best method, and seems to have shown an interest in not harming.

Also, like you said, not letting him go camping would seem to punish him for harming. I think it's probably a good idea to let him go, and then if he feels like he's not in a safe place that weekend, let him tell you that. You can always change the plans, or encourage him to stay home if that happens.

Being there for him is also a very important thing. It's something that I've only really realised recently, but being able to talk to your parents about stuff really helps. Don't push him to talk about it, but let him know that if ever he wants to all he has to do is ask. One thing I would say is that, from my experience (and I would imagine this is more likely to happen in boys than girls) the hardest bit of asking for help is actually asking for it. For this reason, perhaps have a system where there's something completely unrelated that triggers you starting a conversation with him? For example, I have a plushy snow lepoard, and I know that if I put it on my sister's bed, then she knows that I want to talk about something, and will come and find me and start a conversation. I find that a lot easier than going to her actually having to ask her to talk. (that might just be me though - I'm a bit loopy sometimes!)

Sorry, I think this has turned into a bit of an essay. I can't imagine how hard it is to be a parent and to know your child harms, but well done on keeping strong, and joining the forum. There are a lot of interesting people with different backgrounds on here, and hopefully you will find lots of support!
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bluey <-- gregory
bluey <-- that one was given to me by chihiro

I like walking in the rain because then nobody can see me cry
ange
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 10:36:23 PM »

Thanks for the replies.
We have found this site really helpful.
We realise from reading other posts that we may not have handled things right, we have been checking him for new cuts and have moved stuff that he might use out of sight. Although he hasn't objected to this we wonder whether we might be making things worse for him. we do things with the best of intentions but we feel a bit out of our depth and just don't know what to do for the best.
we like the idea of a sign to let us know that he might want to talk, that's something we could try. His teacher has asked us to come up with something like that that might work in school, in case he feels the need to harm during a lesson again. The only thing we can think of is to ensure that he is sitting next to one of his friends who knows about the harming, so he can let them know how he's feeling and maybe take him out of the lesson. Does anyone else have any suggestions?
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jackgrillo
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 11:02:32 PM »

I would say that checking for cuts is probably a little intrusive. If he has new ones, and he wants you to know, then he'll let you see them (it might not be blaringly obvious, like "look mum, here are some new cuts", it might just be that he wears a short sleeve t-shirt which may not hide them, or something).

Moving the stuff out of sight is fine, but I would say from my perspective, to know where something sharp is helps. For example, this week I am away on holiday, and I have a tool in my bag. It will probably be that I go through the entire week without using it, but knowing that it's there helps, because it gives me the option, and stops me feeling like I'm trapped in a situation.

Sitting next to a friend that knows about it will probably help too, because as you say he can let them know. When I was at school my teachers knew that I had MH issues, so in theory I could just stand up and walk out of any lesson, no questions asked. In fact, in the two years that I had the issues, I only did this once or twice, but again, knowing the option was there helped. It would probably then be useful to have somewhere he can go and be alone / quiet. Perhaps the school can suggest somewhere?

Hope this helps. I know I'm not / wasn't in the same situation as your son, but I figure if I tell you stuff from my POV, as a harmer, then it might help!
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bluey <-- gregory
bluey <-- that one was given to me by chihiro

I like walking in the rain because then nobody can see me cry
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2012, 08:52:54 AM »

dont give up im here to lisen
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shortcake74
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 09:59:42 PM »

Hi,
I can completely relete to your situation. I found out in January that my 14 year old daughter has been SH since september. Doing what you think is best is all you can do at the moment, sadly I never truly know what is best.
I agree that checking for marks, whilst instinctive as a parent, is not ideal. In my experience, they will let you know as, when and how they feel comfortable.
With my daughter we use a notebook whereby if she is feeling the need to SH she writes down her feelings, the idea being that she distracts from what she intends to do and expresses her thoughts and feelings without causing hurt and upset to anyone else which is one of her biggest concerns. Admittedly, this does not always provide an adequate distraction but the flip side is if she feels that she can't tell me directly, she can leave the book out for me to read then I can approach her about it.
I also agree that if your sons school is supportive and his teachers know of the situation then he should feel that he can leave the classroom if he needs to and that will be understood and supported. Sitting next to a friend that knows will also be a comfort to him without anything having to be verbalised. Maybe a visual indication to the teacher would be useful too. As a teacher myself I have used yellow cards which pupils can show discretely if they need help, maybe your son could use something similar to indicate how he is feeling.
My initial instinct was to remove tools straight away too but I have found that this is pointless as she will find something, somewhere if she needs to. I'm sure you, like me, question everything you say, do and decide but at the end of the day we are not experts in this and due to our immense love towards our children are only doing what we feel is best for them. It is a constant worry and as long as they know they can talk to us about anything at any time then I guess we are doing all that we can.
I'm not sure if any of this will help, but I'm here to listen and help if I can.
Keep talking and keep strong x
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ange
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 08:55:14 AM »

Hi, I have taken everyone's advice and haven't checked him for a few days now, I know his arms are Ok because he's been wearing short sleeves again for about a week. Still some marks visible but nothing too obvious. A friend commented to him at the weekend that it was nice to see him in short sleeves, which was nice of her and I think gave him a boost. Still worry about his legs though, there were so many cuts. But I have to trust that he will tell me if he wants to. I bought some new tools yesterday and some antiseptic wipes, haven't found myself able to tell him were they are yet, but I will. It is the hardest thing as a parent to give him something knowing that it might hurt him, when you've spent 14 years trying to protect him from harm.
I have e-mailed his teacher and just waiting on a reply to get things sorted before he goes back to school on Monday. He still seems Ok in himself and a bit reluctant to discuss any arrangements for letting teachers know how he's feeling in school. He hasn't said it but I'm sure he's thinking 'I'm fine, don't know what all the fuss is about'. Which I'm finding a bit frustrating but I'm being patient and not pushing him. 
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findingmyway
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 12:15:46 PM »

Firstly, I want to say that I think you're incredible in the way you are dealing with this littlehug1 I wish my mum had dealt with it when I was self-harming as a young teenager (she found it so hard, and so I just stopped talking about it - if she had been as patient and open as you are being, I would have been more honest).

I think you're doing the right thing by not checking him (though I understand it must be really difficult for you littlehug1 ) as checking can just add to the pressure you feel as a self harmer. You're right that he will come to you when he is ready, you're doing everything you can be just being there for him.

I bought some new tools yesterday and some antiseptic wipes, haven't found myself able to tell him were they are yet, but I will. It is the hardest thing as a parent to give him something knowing that it might hurt him, when you've spent 14 years trying to protect him from harm.. 

This is something I had wished my mum would do and know from speaking to others that they felt the same way. I cant imagine how hard it must be to try to give them to him, but, it will at least mean he is able to keep his cuts clean, and will build on the trust you have and hopefully make him feel more able to open up about it.

Keep talking xx
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24th April - I can't pm so I hope everyone that has supported me can see this.

Thank you all so much for your support, I really appreciate it. I am leaving the forum, didnt want to go without saying anything.

Please, all keep as safe as you can.

I will be thinking of you x littlehug1 :hug
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