What would a typical 11-year-old do if you refuse to buy him jeans of his choice? In most cases, the kid would be disturbed, cry or scream. However, would you expect the kid to burn himself?
That’s exactly what Rohit Kumar (name changed) did. Kumar was the only son of an army officer who, on one occasion had wanted a green pair of jeans. As the kid was denied the jeans saying the colour wasn’t good, he attempted lighting himself aflame.
Fits of rage and impulsive actions can often have dire consequences. And that is what Kumar is facing even today. So deep were his burns that, he had to undergo multiple surgeries and is still under treatment, trying very hard to gain his confidence.
An event of setting himself on fire, about three years ago was just a means to show his reaction to rejection. The acceptance of rejection among children has been a matter of several debates and it is so because, one or more such rejections may end up having disastrous consequences.
Self-harm is not an unheard phenomenon. However, a lot of it needs to be carefully assessed say experts.
“I have seen about 10 such cases of children in the past seven years. The reason that this is an alarming situation is because these are trivial causes that they are trying to attempt these steps for. It could be because of excessive peer pressure or parenting foibles. Kumar came to me with severe burns and is still undergoing treatment for the same. In the beginning he wouldn’t even cooperate with us but eventually he has started trusting us. Even though, he has grown-up to be someone with a very short-temper,” said Dr Rajesh Pawar, Professor and Head of the Department of Plastic surgery, Jawaharlal Nehru (KLE) University and Medical College, Belgaum.
Self-harm disorder is a known concept among people. It basically means to hurt oneself impulsively with an underlying intent to cause harm to self and cause trouble to other loved ones. “I have seen a lot of people with self-harming tendencies. Kids trying to cut themselves or set themselves ablaze, such kind of behaviour comes under the tag of ‘deliberate self-harm’ personality disorder,” said Dr Anjali Chhabria, Psychiatrist and Founder of Mind Temple.
Experts believe that all of this could be a result of punishments that the child must have seen or experienced during childhood. “Primarily children will indulge in self-injurious behaviour for few of reasons such as attention, imitation or stress. Kids find it hard to express like adults do, which is why they indulge in this as a way of expression and cope. If the child is used to harsh punishments or so, he/she start assuming this to be a part of self-punishment,” Janki Mehta, Director, counselling psychotherapist at Mind Mandala.
Generally this stems from conflicts at home, school or with siblings or after undergoing acts of bullying, physical emotional or even sexual abuse or because of low self-esteem,” added Mehta.