How To Speak To Teens About Eating Disorders

child therapy Westchester NY

How To Speak To Teens About Eating Disorders

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Are you concerned about your child’s eating habits? Are you the parent of an adolescent who is showing signs that he or she may be developing an eating disorder? Experts have not yet defined direct causes for this illness, although they have cited certain indicators that should let parents know that they’re child is at risk. For example, if your family has a history of suffering from eating disorders, or if you’ve noticed that your child has shown signs of insecurity, anxiety, or body image issues, then it could be time to sit down and speak to your child. Here’s how you can talk to your child about his or her eating habits without distancing yourself.

1. Educate yourself

If you really want to help someone who you know is struggling with some sort of illness, a good first step would be to learn about the illness. You cannot give solid advice to someone about something that you do not understand. And when it comes to mental illness, all too many people simply do not understand it. Read up on your child’s symptoms and learn why they are happening. Why is he or she refusing to eat? Or why does he or she so frequently feel the desire to expel what he or she consumes. And most importantly, what is the most effective and responsible course of action moving forward to combat this illness?

2. Keep your eyes open

Upon informing yourself on the nature and symptoms of the illness, you can more effectively pinpoint the causes. The earlier you notice them, the easier it will be to prevent your child’s illness from getting worse. This entails communicating with your child, monitoring how his or her social life is developing at school, paying attention to his or her eating habits when having meals together, and generally just looking out for self-destructive behavior.

3. Communicate and be supportive

Confrontation with anyone is a tricky thing. Confrontation with a teenager is a whole different ballpark. Adolescence is a complicated phase of life, full of hormones and volatile emotions. But that doesn’t mean that you can just ignore your child if he or she is struggling. As a parent, it’s your job to support and help your child through thick and thin. That means you, just as much as your child, have to make it through this phase in one piece. So if you notice any signs that your child may be developing an eating disorder, you cannot ignore it. Instead, try to make it as clear as possible that you support your child, that you want the best for him or her, but that you are concerned. If you can get your child on your side, you can work together toward finding a solution.

4. Lead by example

As you likely already know, seeing as how you’ve raised this child into his or her adolescent years, setting a good example goes a long way. Many of your child’s good and bad habits are a reflection of your own. What many parents fail to realize is that this pattern lasts well into the later years of life. Your child is still watching what you do even after those first five to ten years. If you demonstrate good habits, by eating a full, well rounded meal and taking good care of your body, your child will usually follow in your footsteps.

If you have a child who you suspect could have an eating disorder, contact the Counseling Center at (914) 793-3388 to learn more about our child therapy Westchester NY services.