Self-Injury in a 5yr Old. DO NOT WANT.
May 24, 2010 10:35 AM Subscribe
Starting self-destruction young: What methods are best to re-direct problem behavior in a self-harming five year old?
posted by grapefruitmoon to human relations (25 answers total)
(The parents know that I'm asking this, so please, don't suggest that I consult with them. They're just as stumped as I am and we would all, collectively, like more help/information. Yes, we're working with his teachers and pediatrician.)
I nanny for a five year old who has some social learning disabilities. He has a lot of trouble "connecting" with the outside world and a fair amount of anxiety - beyond the normal kid stuff of not liking strange foods or loud noises, he really loses it when one of his triggers sets him off.
Lately, this has gone to a whole new and really scary level. When he gets upset, he's totally hell-bent on hurting himself. Many times, I've had to hold him in my lap with his legs in one hand and his arms in another to keep him from seriously injuring himself. He tells us point blank "I want to hurt myself!" and he really does mean this. It's very difficult to try and find a way to acknowledge his feelings while simultaneously keeping him safe.
Which is where my question comes in: How do we (his caretakers) do this? He doesn't exhibit this behavior at his preschool, and his teachers don't really have any easy ideas. The parents and I have tried everything we can think of to try and redirect him without feeding into his anxiety, but his tantrums keep escalating to this point where he truly intends to hurt himself. (And will seriously do so if not physically prevented.)
He's very much focused right now on everything in his life being "bad" and wanting to "ruin" and "destroy" things - this could be an extension in his feelings on himself, it's really hard to tell. In any case, we all want to do the right thing and help him control his anxiety in a way where no one gets hurt. Any advice - specifically for books/resources that cover self-harming in young children - is greatly appreciated.