Whether you’ve been told upfront or have gradually come to understand the truth, having a child with an eating disorder can be incredibly upsetting. Many parents fear the eating disorder becoming worse and want to know what to do. By researching the next courses of action, you are already doing the right thing. Eating disorders require a calm, level-headed approach – as well as providing fundamental support as a parent.
It is incredibly important that you show support for your child; however, it is helpful to know that the course may not be smooth. You may notice that they may have become withdrawn and difficult to talk to. They may also be prone to outbursts of aggression or frustration, but it is vital that you stay calm.
While, as a parent, you will want to do everything you can, sometimes there is no real substitute for professional help. Investing in expert support will provide them with a tailored programme for their recovery. Expertise is particularly valuable when it comes to something such as an eating disorder. Rehabilitation centres such as Eden Treatment could prove to be invaluable to your child throughout their recovery.
Don’t comment on their appearance
This applies to any stage throughout their recovery. The voice of the eating disorder is incredibly punishing, no matter how far they have come. It is important to be supportive without making any remarks about how they may physically appear. Your enduring care and acknowledgment in general will be much more important.
Don’t blame yourself
Your son or daughter will be going through quite a difficult period in terms of their mental health, and so it is important not to burden them with any guilt you might be experiencing. It is reassuring and helpful to know that you did not cause the eating disorder. There has been no link found between parenting abilities and the cause of eating disorders, so don’t weigh yourself down with guilt throughout the process. It’s useful at this stage to think about what you can be doing now rather than what you could have done in the past.
Be encouraging and persistent
As a parent, you may have become accustomed to disciplining and talking to your child in a certain way. However, the way you communicate with your son or daughter with regards to their eating disorder should be different. You must not give them ultimatums with treatment; instead, be consistently encouraging. Your dialogue with them must not be one of blame or accusation. Rather, it should be one of persistent patience and support for their dedication to seeking help, however long that might take.
It is perfectly normal to be frightened or anxious during this phase of your child’s life. You may feel as if you are trying to cooperate with a different side of your son or daughter, which may leave you feeling confused and stressed. It will be valuable to both you and them to research treatment and how best communicate with them on a daily basis.