Identifying Self-Abuse in Teens
Your daughter's plucking and picking may or may not be related to self-injury. A lot depends on what these behaviors mean to your daughter and the goals she believes the behaviors can help her achieve.
Keep in mind that she may be under enormous peer-driven presentation anxiety to be flawless—an unreachable achievement. Obsession operates under the erroneous assumption that perfection and absolute control is reachable. It may be illuminating to wonder aloud with her what would happen were she not to pluck her eyebrows or pick her scabs.
To her, scabs may be signs of having been wounded and flawed that she may feel need to be eliminated so that she can appear flawless. Yet, of course, the continual picking of scabs prevents healing, which in turn creates new scabs—something she must register on some level. The obsessing may be the way she is locked into this pattern, and she may not know how to get out of it. The culprit, again, may be the drive to perfection and/or the fear of falling short of this status.
More often than not, if someone is habitually self-abusive, the wounds are hidden or concealed. Self-injury is usually either a self-punishment of some sort or a way to ground oneself through feeling pain or seeing blood. This may be an attempt to mitigate feelings of numbness or of floating away—perhaps to manage traumatic and/or disturbing memories, feelings, thoughts or sensations.
If your daughter's scab picking is done for any of these reasons, then it very well could be a practice of self-injury. I believe one way to address either the drive to perfection or self-injurious practices is to clear space at home, at school, among friends, in community gatherings, and at places of worship for persons to be accepted, validated, affirmed and loved as she is without having to earn it. All of us can help by allowing for failure, forgiveness and celebrations of our human fallibility, which is best done with a large dose of self-compassion and humor.