How do I explain scars when a young child asks about them?

159 Answers
Last Updated: 02/08/2020 at 5:59pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Melissa Hudson, MS Ed, PhD(c), LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

I work with clients of diverse backgrounds on a multitude of concerns. My approach is, at times, directive, yet always curious, nonjudgmental, collaborative, and validating.

Top Rated Answers
July 13th, 2016 3:51pm
I once read a story of this girl who was babysitting these kids. They saw her scars and asked what they were. She told them they were her battle scars and she fought very hard and bravely to keep from getting more.
July 20th, 2016 10:00am
When a kid asks me about mine, I tell them I they're battle scars. Its not a lie and also isn't too much for a young child to handle.
July 20th, 2016 9:23pm
You can tell them the reason why it happened and tell them. How it will stay for long... Or maybe for a lifetime.
July 22nd, 2016 4:22pm
This is a very tough one, I'll admit. What I tend to do is explain how we get scars when we get hurt, then say that a long time ago I was very hurt because I was very mean to myself. I explain that I had to learn to love myself and take care of myself and then I stopped getting scars. I don't go into too much detail because I feel like it's not necessary., Maybe everyone has a different response, but that's how I handle it.
July 24th, 2016 10:25pm
If a young child asks about scars, explain to them that mental scars happen to everybody. Tell them that eventually scars heal. They might hurt a little bit as they heal. The wound and scab covering the scar might be a little sensitive. But , scars always heal.
July 31st, 2016 10:21pm
You can tell them you don't want to talk about it. You could say the truth, too. Kids don't have to be hidden from the truth. Any other kind of scar people are open to talking about but self harm scars seem to be hush hush.
August 4th, 2016 5:06pm
When kids used to ask, I would tell them they were cat scratches. Or, I would tell them that I got into an accident on my bike and the road bit me. Either way, they don't have to know the truth unless you want them to!
August 4th, 2016 6:45pm
Personally, if they're under 11 years old, I would lie in order not to scare them or make them worry - but if they're 11+, and you think it is appropriate, you can explain to them in simple terms that sometimes some people have the need to express their feelings, and when it's strong, negative feelings, some feel the urge to hurt themselves.
August 12th, 2016 3:26pm
you could say they are battle scars, much like soldiers had them. You are (or were) fighting a battle and that's what's left behind, that's what shows your strength and it's now a memory of those situations. hope this helps 😊💕
August 13th, 2016 9:48am
Tell them they are war scars, because in a way, they kind of are. If they are self harm scars, then you've had a war with your own mind. If a young child asks, take the situation carefully. You don't want to encourage them to get the same scars or want them.
August 14th, 2016 9:12pm
Depends on how young the child is.. If the child is really young then maybe make a joke out of it or lie and say that you fell on the road and hurt it when you were younger so that the child doesn't try hurt themselves...
August 14th, 2016 10:15pm
tell them you got hurt a while back. i don't think there is an easy way to tell a child about scars while being honest. if you are alright with not being honest i would say you should tell them you fell of a tree or scratched yourself accidentally
August 18th, 2016 4:04pm
Scars are like stubborn marks that don't you don't easily remove, nor do they easily fade away. They usually appear after something bad has happened. But they can always serve as a gentle reminder of better days. It may take a while before you realize it, but scars actually show the strength in you.
August 20th, 2016 11:39am
You could tell them the truth in a more abstract way. For example, you could say something like "The world has made me hurt" which wouldn't be a lie. You could also tell them that you have fought through tough times and these are your battle scars. Which isn't a lie either. Just go with what makes you feel comfortable.
August 24th, 2016 4:21pm
I used to answer that they are stretch marks. But you can tell them that you had a hard time and that these are your battle scars
September 1st, 2016 10:42pm
They're like little badges or trophies for being alive and living! You see, when I was a boy, i got in a car accident and got this scar on my chest. That's my trophy for getting up when the car struck me down!
September 2nd, 2016 3:18am
If the scars are from a sensitive topic, such as self-harm, then I think it is important to be truthful but sensitive. I explain mine by saying that they are my tiger stripes, that I was very poorly and I got better but my tiger stripes are now part of my body and thats okay.
September 2nd, 2016 9:29am
Explain to them that they are scars from a bad battle but you over came it, that the scars remind you of how far you have come since the battle
September 2nd, 2016 10:53am
I have some cats so I'm saying to them that I played a lot with my cats and that those scars are the result of playing with my cats.
September 3rd, 2016 7:23am
I think the best way is to say they're battle scars.. scars from a war within yourself you just didn't win. But don't be gorey about it.
September 7th, 2016 1:49pm
Tell the child you were in a battle. That the battle left you scars but you were able to get through and fight them. Tell them you were able to do this because you are strong and everyone needs to be strong. The child can veiw you as a hero or a really strong person that in the future they will soon understand that the battle was withing yourself and you were able to overcome your troubles. This will allow them to see that you can do anything and get through everything. It can also give them a powerful outlook on their future life. They might even veiw you as an inspiration.
September 9th, 2016 7:51am
Tell them that all of the "scars" represent a time you were "sad" , they appear when your feeling down and or lonely.
September 18th, 2016 2:26am
"I've been through a war. These are my battle scars." You can't really explain that to young kids thoroughly enough
October 12th, 2016 7:58pm
Tell the child that you were in a challenging battle and those scars are what it left behind. It is not shameful to struggle.
October 20th, 2016 2:00pm
I call them my battle scars, which honestly is pretty true. And from what I've seen, that's usually good enough for most little kids
October 27th, 2016 4:34am
I have in the past said, "These are my battle scars. Life can be a war and sometimes we come out wounded. You may not understand this now, but one day you will understand, though I hope you never come out wounded."
November 10th, 2016 11:16am
Keep it short and sweet. Kids don't understand, and explaining to them may just make them upset. Say something like, "I was upset and scratched myself. But, I'm all better now."
November 20th, 2016 11:29am
Tell them the truth in a simple vocabulary. If a child asks something is because he/she is ready to handle that information and it's important explaint things and be open to them. (They understand much more than we think).
December 4th, 2016 9:25am
If you feel comfortable being honest you can use examples of people they may be familiar with in the media. When I helped my cousin have this conversation with our 8 year old cousin, we used Demi Lovato as a reference point. Because she was familiar with Demi's struggle she was able to have a better understanding of the situation and was interested in talking about it instead of being intimidated or upset.
December 29th, 2016 6:59pm
You can tell a small child whatever you feel comfortable with. If that is an animal scratched you or if that is saying it shows that you have been strong it doesn't change who you are.