Eating disorders are a mental illness with physical consequences. If your child has an eating disorder and has been admitted at a residential treatment facility, chances are that you are already extremely worried (and have undoubtedly already spent a lot of time researching treatment solutions and after-care support options).
Dealing with Media Influences, Meal Times and Mood Disorders
If your child is dealing with an eating disorder, there may be some long-standing issues that you will have to deal with as a family. Here are some of the challenges that you might face:
- Media influences: The American media is obsessed with looks and being thin – this puts a lot of pressure on young people to feel they fit into the idea of what “beautiful” means to the media (i.e. being thin). Make sure you focus on their feelings, health and relationships. Do not make any negative comments regarding their image.
- Meal times: Avoid power struggles over food. While this doesn’t mean you can turn a blind eye to any disordered eating habits, it does mean that you need to start giving your child control of what they eat. If they have successfully completed a program at a residential treatment facility, give them time to adjust and become comfortable with meal times at home again.
- Mood disorders: Comorbid disorders like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety can complicate and impede eating disorders. Make sure that your child has the right eating disorder support (including healthcare professionals, counsellors and support groups) so that any other type of mood disorders can be addressed.
Information for Parents - How to Deal with Media Influences, Coping with Meal Times, Coping with Depression, Anxiety and Self-Esteem
It’s vital that you keep an eye on your child’s progress. Not only can they be very susceptible to criticism, the media and mood disorders, they can also feel isolated and alone. Here are a few tips:
- Avoid threats and scare tactics: Never undermine the power of an eating disorder by offering a simple solution like “Just eat and everything will be fine!” Do not threaten your child or add to the emotional stress that they may already be experiences.
- Promote self-esteem: Encourage and complement your child on things that do not relate to his or her body image.
- Remember that it’s not your (or your child’s fault): Stay attuned with your child’s progress and remember that nobody wants to have an eating disorder.
Stay connected to their support group and make sure you are able to give them access to the psychological and physical specialists that they need in order to implementing lasting, positive changes in their lives.