(TRIGGER WARNING: This post covers self-harm.) Inside: We are diving into a topic that many parents face, yet few openly talk about – self-harm. We’ll be hearing from a family who experienced this challenge firsthand and discuss the steps to take after discovering a child’s self-harm and where to find support.
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Trigger Warning: This post covers self-harm.
In this post/episode, we are diving into a topic that many parents face, yet few openly talk about: self-harm.
We’ll be hearing from a family who experienced this challenge firsthand. They’ll share how they addressed this dangerous and frightening situation and where they stand today.
Let’s welcome Amanda and Marc Ferraro, parents of 12-year-old highly sensitive twins. This brave couple reached out to Calm the Chaos after discovering their daughter’s self-harm behaviors. Understandably, they were terrified.
Imagine watching your child hurt, praying things don’t escalate while scrambling to figure out how to best support them… Beyond tough.
However, with guidance from Calm the Chaos, Amanda and Marc learned the importance of patience, allowing their daughter to open up at her own pace.
This trust-building eventually paved the way for her to see a doctor, begin therapy, use therapeutic cream for her injuries, and eventually return to school – a huge step forward.
So, if you’re looking for more information on this topic, either for yourself or for your children, I encourage you to tune in for this episode. We’ll discuss the steps to take after discovering a child’s self-harm and where to find support.
I promise this episode will offer hope.
The Dark Place
When faced with a parent’s worst nightmare – child self-harm – the first thing you ask yourself is “Where did this come from?!” Or to instinctively look for the signs you might have missed.
But that’s usually the path to self-blame and feeling guilty. And that’s the last thing you need in this overwhelming situation.
However, once you stop and try to truly understand your child without judging but with curiosity, things usually start to make sense.
This is especially true for observant and deeply sensitive kids who always keep their emotions locked behind walls. This was the case with Amanda and Marc’s daughter Lena, a silent and sensitive girl who faced overwhelming sensory challenges when she returned to school after COVID.
Add the impact of COVID, virtual learning, and its societal consequences, and you start to see the bigger picture. The girl’s struggle with grappling with sounds, smells, and finding her voice upon return to school took a heartbreaking turn to self-harm.
For a while, she masked her pain, wearing long sleeves even on warm days – which was an alarming sign to her parents that she was in a dark place.
As her father shared in the podcast, going into Lena’s space, he’d find her curled up, not lost in a phone, but deep in the sadness of a single song played again and again.
(If you need a resource to give you fresh ideas, strategies and the confidence to help you keep up with your kids’ rapidly changing sensory needs, go check my book Sensory Processing 101.)
Fix Yourself First
When they find at such a confusing path of self-harm, parents’ initial instinct is to try to fix the child. But the truth is, healing starts at home.
Amanda and Marc reached out to Calm the Chaos because they were at such a low point as an entire family that they felt they needed a handhold. And it was our one-on-one training.
During the CTC journey, they learned that if parents don’t fix themselves first, the child would just go deeper into self-harm, dark space, and non-social because there would be an atmosphere in the house that invites the child back in.
And if you want them to get out of that dark place that forces them to harm themselves, you have to create a gate for them where they would feel safe and welcomed. Only by addressing our issues first, can we build that gateway, inviting our children back from the shadows.
(Tune in for the full episode on YouTube and find out more details about Amanda and Marc’s journey.)
Where Is Lena Now?
With guidance from Calm the Chaos, Amanda and Marc have realized the immense value of patience, giving their daughter the space to approach them when she feels ready.
Building this trust, along with the “Stop, Breathe, Anchor” technique, has helped her start opening up to Amanda, smile more, and get back into the stuff she loved before things got tough.
Lena has also became more comfortable with her therapist, attending therapy regularly, and ultimately returned to school. The bandaids have become a thing of the past, and she has confidently started wearing short sleeves and shorts again.
What’s cool is, she didn’t just decide to hit school again on her own, but she’s also been going even when her brother’s staying home – something they wouldn’t have believed just a few months back.
Stop, Breathe, Anchor – The Hardest Simple Thing
Now, I get it. You might be thinking, “Sure, we ‘stop and breathe,’ and everything magically falls into place… Yeah, right.”
No, issues won’t simply disappear – there’s no magical solution, especially for challenges as deep and alarming as self-harm. But trust me – these first stages of the CTC road map do make a difference.
Although Stop, Breathe, Anchor might sound simple, in practice, it’s a lot of hard work because we’re going back and reviewing every habit we’ve built over the last 40 or 50 years, trying to undo them every single minute of your day.
Instead of hustling, to-do lists, worries about tomorrow, complaints, judgments, yelling, or talking too much, we are trying to stay calm, be truly there for our kid, and understand them instead of judging them and telling them what to do.
Yeah, it’s pretty hard to do, but it really works.
Here, I want to point out the magic of the Calm the Chaos program – see, I’m (not) one to brag. You don’t need to complete the entire journey to see results. (Amanda hasn’t even finished the Calm the Chaos book yet!)
But once you start practicing the first stages of the CTC roadmap and make progress one step at a time, you’ll see big changes from where you began your journey.
A Lot More Fun
Although things are much better now than they were when they reached out to us for help, Amanda and Marc are aware that they are just at the very beginning. They haven’t fixed everything, and they still have a long path ahead.
There are a lot of behavior changes in themselves and in the patterns of their kids that they need to work on as they keep moving forward, to really get to know their kids better than they do now.
Right now, they are trying to incorporate having a lot more fun rather than telling their kids what to do. They took this summer time to really dig into that. They canceled a ton of their plans and tried to keep it low-key.
That way, they minimized the stress and anxiety to give themselves space and time just to be with their kids in their mission to better understand them.
Atmosphere at Home Has Changed
After joining the Calm the Chaos program, they not only improved their relationship with their kids but also became way better connected with each other.
The whole atmosphere at home has changed. The tense vibes and constant blame games have been replaced with genuine communication. They have reached the point they always yearned for, where conversations flow without defenses immediately going up.
Now, they truly listen to each other’s words. Amanda and Marc’s bond as a couple has strengthened, even allowing them to tackle tough topics like finances. For Amanda, this change has been a huge stress reliever.
Amanda and Marc are living proof that even the hardest challenges our kids throw at us can be overcome if we work together as a team. If you tune in for the full interview, you’ll see that they are finishing each other’s sentences.
Implementing CTC at Work
Mark says this program has actually helped him at work. He works in a large manufacturing company, and it’s always chaotic. Things don’t happen as planned; they’ve got to pick up where other people left off…
It used to get him really frustrated, but now, with his home environment being much more relaxed, he started implementing CTC techniques at work and is like:
“Okay, this isn’t the end of the world. Let’s just stop, breathe, and anchor, take a moment, gather our thoughts, gather our abilities, and just move on from there.”
Not only has it helped him in a couple of situations, but it has also been noticed. People there asked him, “Why did you do that? Oh, yeah, you got it – you’ve done it so quickly.”
In my world, this is an example of “from surviving to thriving” at its finest.
And if you want to start thriving, order my ‘Calm the Chaos’ book and share your thoughts on social media. We appreciate every interaction and look forward to hearing from you.”
In the meantime, keep in mind,
You’ve got this!
P.S. – If you want to know more about the strategies, tools, and plans you can apply to your unique situation, order your copy of Calm The Chaos Book.
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Calm the Chaos Parenting is a podcast offering parents practical tools and strategies to navigate the challenges of raising strong-willed, highly sensitive, and neurodivergent children.
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