Supporting Your Child S Eating Disorder Recovery

From a clinical perspective, eating disorder recovery involves medical care, weight gain, nutritional counseling and psychotherapy. For your child, however, eating disorder recovery involves the monumental tasks of learning new eating habits, dealing with emotional distress and developing a positive body image. Learn how to provide effective eating disorder help during this difficult time.

Your Child’s Eating Disorder Recovery and You

As a parent, you play a significant supporting role in your child’s eating disorder recovery. The following guidelines may enhance your ability to support your child:

  • Be careful with your words. Comments can have a profound impact on your child, and guilt and self-deprecation are hallmarks of eating disorders. Although you may feel hurt by your child’s eating disorder, communicating this to her will make her feel guiltier. Additionally, comments about weight (i.e. “You look better now that you’ve put on some weight”) are easily misinterpreted. More generic comments (i.e. “You look beautiful today”) are best.
  • Be encouraging. Your child will most likely experience setbacks during his eating disorder recovery. Be supportive and encourage your child to press on, and view his setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures. Praise his efforts and encourage small, hard-fought achievements. This type of eating disorder help will allow him to develop the confidence he needs to recover.
  • Educate yourself. The more you know about your child’s eating disorder, the better equipped you’ll be to assist and support her through the eating disorder recovery process.
  • Listen. Try not to give advice if you’ve never had an eating disorder. Rather, let your child know you’re willing to listen and that you won’t judge her.

Eating Disorder Help: Find the Right Balance

Recovery is a personal process and your child will have to make many of her own choices. Repeatedly, you’ll have to choose between forcing your child to do something and allowing her to proceed independently. In general, try to avoid:

  • Constantly questioning your child about food.
  • Cutting out specific foods simply to accommodate her disordered eating.
  • Forcing her into getting a particular type of eating disorder help.

Instead:

  • Allow your child to choose a type of therapy she’d like to try.
  • Ensure she attends her medical appointments.
  • Make mealtimes enjoyable.
  • Respect her independence.

Eating Disorders: Recovery through Family Therapy

If you’re looking at different types of eating disorder help, consider family therapy. With the guidance of a professional counselor, family therapy allows you to work through eating disorder recovery as a team. Research shows that family therapy is particularly effective for adolescents with eating disorders, especially children under 18 years of age.

Resources

Gusella, J. (2000). What is helping? Youth and recovery. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://www.nedic.ca/knowthefacts/documents/WhatisHelpingYouthandRecovery.pdf

Nemours Foundation. (n.d.). Eating disorders. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/eating_disorders.html#a_Warning Signs

Segal, J., Smith, M. & Barston, S. (n.d.). Helping someone with an eating disorder. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://helpguide.org/mental/eating_disorder_treatment.htm#treatments