Many parents feel helpless and overwhelmed when their child is diagnosed with an eating disorder. Parents want the best for their children, and when these things happen, it is perfectly natural for them to feel defeated and criticize their parenting skills. There are also cases wherein their child is not yet diagnosed but demonstrates signs of a possible eating disorder. Here are some tips you can follow to help your teenager overcome an eating disorder or prevent one from materializing.
Educate yourself and watch out for warning signs
As parents, it is important that you educate yourself with adolescent eating disorders. Some of the common disorders are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. Early invention is essential in effectively addressing an eating disorder. Watch out for red flags such as skipping meals, wearing baggy clothes, disappearing during mealtime, exercising excessively, refusing to eat in public, constantly counting calories, and preparing an elaborate meal for family and friends. Do your research; read studies and journals, watch educational videos, listen to podcasts, talk to an expert, and exhaust every available resource so that you can appropriately address the situation.
Talk to your teenager and always keep your lines of communication open
When talking to your child, you must set your emotions aside. It is highly probable that your teenager will deny having an eating disorder and will ultimately act defensively. Be patient, supportive and listen to them without judgment. Explain your intentions, do not force solutions, and express your concerns as objectively as possible by highlighting specific situations that you noticed in the past. Never criticize your child as it will make them defensive, and remember to acknowledge their feelings.
Remember that these conversations are threatening and overwhelming to your child, so do your best to stay calm if they become disrespectful. Avoid giving ultimatums and do not use derogatory or accusatory statements. Try not to take it personally and make it clear that you will be there for them no matter what happens.
Set a good example for your family and know the possible triggers
Be mindful of how you treat and speak to yourself about your body. Avoid criticizing yourself and make a conscious effort to change your lifestyle. Talk to your children about body image and good eating habits. Discuss the consequences of not eating correctly and the dangers of emotional eating. Eat together as a family and make sure to focus on their positive traits and qualities. Never make hurtful jokes or offensive remarks about their physical appearance, and always offer reassurance and compliments.
You should also discuss the effects of mainstream media to your children and how it can affect their self-esteem. Experts say that social media can trigger an eating disorder, and while we cannot filter everything, it is crucial that we encourage our children to discuss how they feel and to never compare themselves with others.
If you believe that your teenager has an eating disorder, consult a medical professional immediately. Consider booking a psychologist from an experienced healthcare provider such as 24-7MedCare provides secure telehealth services, anytime and anywhere.
It is important to remember that one of the best ways to approach this situation is to shower your child with unconditional love and be with them as they walk the path to recovery.