A new study says that children as young as seven can injure themselves to cope with emotional stress.

The study involved some 655 kids including 197 third graders, most of whom reported that they had intentionally cut/poked themselves, or hit themselves or tried other methods of self-injury. Nearly two thirds of the study group had done some sort of self-harm more than once, according to The News Tribune.

According to the study, ninth-grade girls are more at risk of cutting themselves than boys of the same age. Girls are three times more likely to resort to non-suicidal self-injury.

"You can have young kids who are experiencing a lot of emotions, things that they don't know how to deal with it, so they start banging their head against the wall," said Benjamin Hankin, a psychologist from the University of Denver and an author of the study, according to Reuters.

"The study of self-injury is relatively new, so we don't really have good data to confirm it, but just about everyone who treats these children will tell you this alarming behavior is on the rise," said Hankin.

So how should parents who find out that their child is cutting him/herself up react? Experts say that it is better to keep calm and not judge the child.

"What's important is to react in a way that conveys the parent cares about their child, and to act in a calming way and a non-judgmental way," Stephen Lewis, told Reuters. Lewis has studied self-injury at the University of Guelph in Ontario Lewis, and is not involved in the new study,

Self-injury has been extensively studied in adolescents.

A separate study published in Psychiatry Research says that children who resort to self-injury are at higher risk of attempting a suicide. According to this study, 70 percent of the children who engaged in NSSI reported a lifetime suicide attempt. The study group included some 90 teens.

Recent report by BBC said that children who are bullied at school are 3 times more likely to injure themselves than their classmates.

The present study is published in the journal Pediatrics.