Stressed Parents Could Mean More Self-Harm by Kids

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

Teens have a higher risk of self-injury — deliberately cutting or burning themselves — if they have a fraught relationship with a struggling parent, a new study shows.

Teenagers were nearly five times more likely to self-injure if, when they were 6, their moms and dads reported stress and discomfort in their role as parents, researchers found.

Teens also had a nearly doubled risk of self-harm if they perceived parental hostility and negativity at the age of 6, researchers report.

“Stress in parents is hypothesized to have widespread negative impacts on child development, including the development of behavioral problems,” said researchers Tove Wichstrom and Lars Wichstrom of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 759 Norwegian adolescents at ages 12, 14 or 16 to determine the teens’ rate of non-suicidal self-injury.

About 10% of the teens reported self-injury within the past year, with girls nearly 12 times more likely than boys to cut, burn or otherwise injure themselves.

Such self-injury is typically a way to cope with emotional pain, sadness, anger and stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s rarely meant as a suicide attempt but rather as a means of finding calm and releasing physical and emotional tension.

The researchers linked that self-injury information to other data collected from the children’s parents, teachers, and the kids themselves when they were 6.

The results found an association between later self-injury as a teen and a strained relationship with an overwhelmed parent at age 6.

This fraught relationship did not need to be extreme to influence the child. Researchers noted there were few reported instances of parental sexual abuse or physical abuse among the Norwegian teens.

The new study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: HealthDay

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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