Christmas is generally a time for joy, giving, receiving and thinking of others. For some people however, Christmas brings about fear, trepidation and anxiety.

As schools are about to break up for the festive season, some pupils in particular may be filled with dread and the thought of having to take time out with their families; namely pupils who self harm. Some schools may already begin to see signs of structural attachment to the school or attachment to members of staff in the form of increased self harming as the end of term approaches and are looking for self harm help.

How Do You Manage The Situation?

Other than self harm training for teachers, there are some things that schools can do to help pupils to prepare for and do during the Christmas break.

These could include:

1. Helping the pupil to Create An Action Plan.
The Action Plan could take any form that is likely to be the most beneficial for the pupil, for instance:

a. An Action Plan that helps them to create a routine of things they will do over the break to keep themselves focused, busy, stimulated or just happy. For example, going along with or making the most of the family visits; creating a routine for their day that they are likely to stick to; making things and being creative and possibly gifting it to others; socialising with friends; helping to cook or offer to cook during the festive season!

b. A Crisis Plan Of Action. This is a Plan that can be created specifically in relation to the self injurious behaviour. It could include who they could reach out to in the midst of a crisis, and where they could get help and support from. This could be a particular family member, Samaritans (opened on Christmas Day!), or ChildLine.

c. Prevention Plan of Action. This is a Plan that is focused on helping them to consider avoiding certain things, situations or people (where possible) that are likely to be a trigger for their self harming, or fall into situations that they may feel uncomfortable with. It also includes the action steps that they will take to prevent the above happening and who they could call on to support them in implementing the Plan.

2. Doing One Thing Differently.
Doing something differently can help to get people out of certain situations where they feel stuck or is a situation that is a stagnant status quo. In practice this could look like this – saying hello/greeting others that they wouldn’t normally speak to; styling their hair differently; a different form of exercise; trying a different cuisine that they wouldn’t normally eat. Doing one thing differently each week (or day), will help them to change the energy around them, the status quo and possibly their outlook on life.

3. Contribute.
Find a way that they can give to others in a healthy way. Contribution and giving not only makes the recipient feel good but it also generates a feel good factor in the person giving. There are always charity organisations looking for more help at Christmas to help those in need. For instance, Salvation Army, Childrens’ Hospices, or Anthony Robbins Foundation/Basket Brigade which also operates in the UK and delivers food baskets/hampers at Christmas to families in need.

4. Help them to Reframe and to see a Different or wider Picture of Themselves.
In addition to self harm training courses, teachers can help pupils to see a different or wider picture of themselves.
This is where you could help them to challenge unhelpful or negative belief patterns about themselves and to help them identify a time in their life when they were being or doing the opposite of their limiting or negative thoughts. What is the opposite of that negative thought?

5. Continue Or Start A New Hobby
Getting and staying occupied by doing a hobby that is enjoyable and helps them to feel good about themselves and that is JUST for them!

Enlist their parents’ help in following through with the relevant Action Plan or ask them to share their plans with their parents, if and where possible.

As with anything new, reassure them that some things take time to get used to and that it is Very OK to make mistakes or mess up whilst getting used to their new Plan(s). Taking one step at a time is the key to consistency.

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