Signs of self-harm in children

Psychologist Wendy Lader, PhD, discusses how it is very difficult for parents to know their child is self-injuring, but shares some of the common signs to help parents
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Signs of self-harm in children

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Sometimes it's very difficult for parents to know if their child is self-injuring. One of the reasons for that is that kids are masters at being able to keep this to themselves. It can be their own secret and they go to great lengths to cover it up. As as parent, don't berate yourself if you haven't seen the signs. However, there are some things to look for. When a child does this more frequently, they are going to get a little sloppier. Sometimes there might even be a wish on their part that their parents will notice or someone will notice. Certainly, if you see any kinds of lines or scars on your child's arms or legs or anyplace. Sometimes they will come up with excuses, like, "My cat did it,"or "My neighbor's cat did it," or "I fell and I hurt myself." But if they look too straight and they look too even, it's important to take notice of that. Also, sometimes kids have stashes with things that they can hurt themselves with and they will keep it in their bathroom or the bedroom. If you come across a razor or scissors in a strange place, you might want to wonder about that. Sometimes you might find bloody tissues in the trashcan. It's very important to notice those things and to say something about it, then to ignore it and hope it will go away.

Psychologist Wendy Lader, PhD, discusses how it is very difficult for parents to know their child is self-injuring, but shares some of the common signs to help parents

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Wendy Lader, PhD

Psychologist

Dr. Lader is co-founder and clinical director of the S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives Program. An internationally recognized expert on the treatment of self-injury, she lectures extensively on the subject and is co-author of the book, Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers as well as Self Injury: A Manual for School Professionals. In addition, she served as the expert for a training video on Self-Injury for the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lader is co- founder of the Self-Injury Foundation and a founding member of the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury. 

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