Watching your children go through any sort of pain can be agonizing. Whether it is heartbreak, bullying at school, problems with socializing, or issues with mental health,
there is not much that can make parents feel more helpless than seeing their offspring suffer.
Eating disorders are on the rise amongst teens and children and are disturbingly prevalent. Thanks to the rise of social media which makes it far less easy to monitor what children or teens look at, there is a whole new angle to deal with when it comes to expectations about bodies and the ever-changing ideals.
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That being said, eating disorders are not always related to body image and can be also significantly difficult to detect so this piece is here to guide parents on eating disorders and how you can help.
Eating Disorders Come in Different Disguises
Before eating disorders got more public exposure, it was common for anorexia to be the ‘one size fits all’ for eating disorders. Those with anorexia were said to look very thin and not eat much at all. However, as our research on eating disorders and their variants grow, so does our understanding. It is no longer enough to just look at someone ‘on the slight side’ or who is avoiding dinner as a means of detecting an eating disorder, and what might be even more frightening is a lot of eating disorder symptoms are in the mind.
Why Did My Child Get an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders often have no discernible cause but are an amalgamation of issues that result in the need for control or change. There is a genetic component which means that some are more likely to be predisposed to developing eating disorders over others, and this is not a guarantee they will. However, circumstance has a lot to answer for. There are many factors such as role models, social media, stress, and unhappy body image, to name just a few, that can all contribute to the development of an eating disorder.
How Can I Help My Child with Their Eating Disorder?
Despite the fact that eating disorders can be caused by multiple amounts of issues, parents and primary caregivers do have a responsibility to put their best foot forward when it comes to being a role model. Parents who have negative body image are much more likely to find that their children develop a negative body image based on their behavior. This can also be true for how parents unintentionally talk about food or weight in a damaging way.
For those who are concerned about their child or suspect an eating disorder, contact a professional immediately. There is more than one anorexia nervosa treatment or treatments for other disorders which can help issues before they continue.
It is important to speak to your child in a non-judgemental, neutral way so they know they are able to come to you if they are struggling. This means they might feel like they can come to you before things become detrimental.