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I would like to help you with your question.
I can understand how baffling your daughter's behavior is to you.
As a clinical psychologist with nearly 30 years experience it appears to me that your daughter is attempting to communicate something to you about her feelings. As an 8 year old, she may not have the words to express how she is feeling inside and instead may be resorting to cutting to get that message to you.
What should I do?
Cutting things that "she shouldn't" could be about destruction or anger...that is, she wants to ruin or destroy something because inside she feels she is "bad" or "wrong" or "not good enough".
Have you asked her why she cuts?
She said because she can't help, sometimes she just wants to cut something, is what she said.
Okay. So that tells me that she is unaware of her true emotions...but that she knows something is not right inside her.
Would you be willing to take her to see a psychologist?
Or allow her to have a private chat with her pediatrician?
I think so, would it resolve itself in a healthy way without one, in your opinion?
But it would take a different approach then what you are using.
What do you suggest?
My first suggestion is to ask her if she would like to talk to someone about this. If she says Yes...then ask if she would feel comfortable talking to her pediatrician or if she would prefer to see a therapist.
If you doesn't want to talk to someone, then you will need to work with her to help her understand what she is feeling inside.
Without talking to her, I cannot tell what she is feeling...but it could be anger, resentment, anxiety, disappointment, loss...
Have there been any changes in the family? Or at school? How long has the cutting been happening?
Her dad died two years ago, maybe therapy would be a good idea.
I would absolutely not punish her...rather what she needs is love, understanding, support, and lots and lots of love.
She started only the last couple months though.
I am so very sorry. Yes...that could be the trigger....
Children process grief differently then adults. In part this is because they do not have words to express how they feel inside. Her dad died when she was 6...she most certainly did not have an ability to express herself.
So...now she is feeling "something"...but still has no words. That's what she needs help with...finding the words.
And absolutely...I would recommend that she see a therapist to help her work through these feelings.
Does this make sense?
Yes, thanks a lot.
Kids of her age also benefit greatly from using art as a way to process their grief.
Please consider getting her a journal and some special art supplies so that she can make a memory book about dad.