Coping with self-harm: a guide for parents and carers 

White curve
Attending to your own needs 

It is normal for parents to experience strong emotions when coming to terms with a child’s self-harming. This is a difficult and unsettling time and it is important that you look after yourself as well as your child.

Recovery from self-harm may be a long process, so try to attend to your own needs by finding time for relaxation and reflection.

Pay attention to physical signs

Be mindful of your own body and watchful for physical signs of stress, such as stomach aches, difficulty sleeping or depression.

Take time for yourself when you are upset and working through challenging emotions. Be intentional and do things that you enjoy, such as going out with friends, regular exercise, reading or practicing hobbies. Look for positive distractions to focus your mind and energies elsewhere.

Learn to accept your own feelings

Identify the emotions that you are experiencing and be honest with yourself. It may help to write these down in a journal or notebook. Find an outlet for your emotions, such as talking to a trusted friend, relative or therapist.

You may also find other emotions coming out as anger - this is natural and understandable, but be careful that your child does not think this is directed at them.

Don’t worry about less important tasks

Give yourself permission to relax and take time out for yourself: only do things that really need doing and don’t worry about less important tasks. Take time off work if you are able, and accept help from family and friends.

Keep communicating with your child

While looking after yourself, keep having conversations with your child in the most comfortable way for you both. Your child may remember what you say even if they don’t seem to be listening at the time, and may take your advice and talk to you later.

Don’t give up

Trying to help your child may sometimes be very frustrating. However, when they push you away is often when they need you the most. Remember, most young people who self-harm will stop sooner or later.

Don’t give up. There is help out there. - Healthtalk.org parent interview

Healthtalk.org parent interview

This content has been adapted from Coping with self-harm, a Guide for Parents and Carers, produced by  University of Oxford Centre for Suicide Research in association with:

Young Minds

Royal College of Nursing

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Royal College of General Practitioners

and funded by the National Institute for Health Research

Resources

Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for parents

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

View resource
Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for teachers

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

View resource
Resource

Asking for help (adult)

When it’s time to talk about your mental health.

View resource
Resource

Asking for help (young person)

A simple guide for young people to help talk about their feelings.

View resource
Resource

Depression booklet

Featuring useful facts, figures and information, this booklet also contains sources of help and what not to say to people experiencing depression

View resource
Resource

Guide to depression for parents and carers

This booklet aims to help recognise and understand depression and how to get appropriate help for their child

View resource
Resource

Guide to depression for parents and carers (Welsh)

This booklet aims to help parents recognise and understand depression and how to get appropriate help for their child

View resource
Resource

Looking after yourself during your GCSEs - A guide for pupils

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

View resource
Resource

Low mood poster

Poster created in partnership with Bank Workers Charity highlighting common causes of low mood, how to help yourself feel better and information on where to get more help.

View resource
Resource

Making the move to university: care leavers

Read how to look after your mental health if you are starting university after being in care.

View resource
Resource

Making the move to university: international students

Moving to university is especially tough for those who are coming from another country. Don't forget to make sure you prioritise your mental health, and read how to do so here.

View resource
Resource

Making the move to university: LGBTQ+ students

Read our resource on how you can best take care of your mental health when making the transition to university if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

View resource
Resource

Making the move to university: not fitting in

Read our guide on how to protect your wellbeing if you are starting university and feel like you may not fit in in any way.

View resource
Resource

Making the move to university: students with adverse childhood experiences

Resource for those starting university who have had adverse childhood experiences such as trauma or abuse.

View resource
Resource

Making the move to university: young carers

Read how to access support and prioritise your mental health while transitioning to university as a young carer.

View resource
Resource

Perfectionism

Aiming high can sometimes come at a cost. This eight page guide looks at ‘unhealthy perfectionism’ – how to spot it and advice on how to develop effective interventions.

View resource
Resource

Supporting a child with anxiety

A guide for parents and carers to help understand anxiety more clearly and begin to address it.

View resource
Resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

View resource
Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

View resource
Resource

Wellbeing Journal

A simple, journal to help young people think about and write down the things which make them feel good.

View resource

Was this article helpful?

Your feedback helps us create better content so if this article helped, please leave a like below and let others know.
Follow us
The Charlie Waller Trust
Queens Voluntary Service Award