Spending too much time on social media more than doubles a young person’s risk of developing issues with their body image.
Poor body image is a causal risk factor for eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. People of all ages have never been more susceptible to these illnesses than they are today. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of annual hospitalizations for eating disorders went up by 24%.
If you have a son or daughter suffering from one of the many childhood eating disorders, what can you do to help them recover? How can you alter your own behavior to make a positive impact on their life?
Read on to find out what steps you, as a loving mom, can take to help your little one overcome their eating disorder.
1. Sit Down and Talk
Before you attempt to discuss the issue with your child, conduct online research to learn everything you can about the subject.
Avoid doing the following during your conversation:
- Mentioning weight or physical appearances
- Accusing them of any wrongdoing
- Turning the discussion into a debate
- Suggesting easy fixes
Demonstrate to them that you’re willing to listen and support them in any way possible. Find fearless faith as a mom and practice patience, especially when things get frustrating. Remember that your little one suffers from a serious illness, so you need to show them compassion.
When you speak, start your sentences with “I”, not “you”, letting them know how worried you feel. Steer the conversation towards a discussion about how their behavior impacts their health. Ask if they want to change.
Prepare to encounter some pushback from them, and consider that you may have to try again later.
To make your job easier, talk to your child when they don’t have anything else on their schedule. Additionally, opt for a noise-free area with little to no distractions.
2. Love Your Own Body
Although you may not think it’s a big deal, the way you talk about your own body affects the way your child sees theirs. In fact, a child between the ages of five and eight is more likely to have negative opinions about their body if their mother isn’t satisfied with hers.
Realize that you’re not the blame for your son’s or daughter’s suffering. That said, by learning how your behavior impacts your child’s, you can make necessary changes.
For example, be careful what you say about your figure around your kids, even if it’s a self-deprecating joke.
3. Explore Treatment Options
Are you confident that you can resolve everything on your own? Delaying a visit to the doctor may result in long-term, irreparable damage to your kid’s health.
For example, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder can lead to low bone density and delayed puberty. Binge eating disorder, on the other hand, can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to keep in mind that treatment centers like Center for Discovery offer adolescent and teen treatment programs for everything from eating disorders to oppositional defiant disorder.
Going to a dietician might be a good idea if you want to put together a diet for healthy weight gain. Also, therapists can help address the root of your child’s problem.
Overcoming Childhood Eating Disorders Together
Helping your child starts with educating yourself on the subject, engaging in active listening, and being the best role model you can be.
However, the most important thing you need to do is get them the right treatment. Take action instead of hoping that they’ll get better on their own.
Now that you know how to approach childhood eating disorders, want more actionable parenting tips? If so, head over to our family life blog to learn about topics such as helping a child cope with divorce or dealing with toddler sleep problems.