Strategies for Parents of Children… | Counseling | Therapy

Strategies for Parents of Children with an Eating Disorder

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

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Parenting Help Strategies for parents of children with an eating disorder to help them recover

38 Strategies for parents of children with an eating disorder (Anorexia, Bulimia, or binging or Over Eating) to help them recover:

* Have your adolescent seen by a medical doctor who is very familiar with Eating Disorders. Make sure they are seen often to check vitals and weight.
* If you think you want to stay with your current Primary Care Doctor asks him or her “How familiar are you with Eating disorders.”
* Do not blame your child for having the eating disorder. This is very important.
* Externalize the Eating Disorder Voice. Call it a name such as “The Alien” or “The Demon” so that you can separate it from your child. Refer to Eating disorder behaviors (Lying, refusing to eat). With the name that you have chosen.
* Seriously consider attending counseling by yourself or with your mate. Being a parent of someone with an eating Disorder is stressful and therefore counseling can be very helpful for you.
* Do not blame yourself or your spouse
* Monitor use of your child’s computer. You do have a right to do this. Make sure your child is not on websites where teens encourage one another to be active in their Eating Disorder.
* Do not expose your child to your dieting (low calorie, Atkins, The Zone, South Beach) Model sensible eating with a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
* Do not make negative or positive comments about your body shape, your child’s body shape, or anyone’s body shape.
* Try to be with your child for as many meals as possible. If they are having difficulty with portion size (too little or not enough) then assist them with this by preparing and serving their meals. Sit with them while they eat.
* Remember that many Adolescents with Eating Disorders (especially with Anorexia) are not honest about what they are eating for lunch at school. They may tell you they are eating when they are not.
* Be aware of the possibility of Water Loading. Water loading is very common for Adolescents with Eating Disorders who are low weight. If they know they are being weighed they may drink a lot of water the day they are being weighed to increase their weight on the scale. This can lead to a medical condition called hyponatremia. Too much water can lead to a deficit of sodium in the body. Generally speaking, more that eight eight ounce glasses within a 12-hour period can lead to hyponatremia (water intoxication) Hyponatremia is very dangerous and can be fatal.
* For an accurate weight have the PCP weigh your child without any clothes underweight adolescents often tape change to their underwear among other things to alter weight.
* Monitor use of the scale so your child cannot weigh herself excessively. This may mean taking the scale out of the house and just having her weighed at appointments.
* Do not label foods, as good or bad For example, Twinkies are not “Bad” they are just not that nutritious and they are to be eaten in moderation.
* If your Adolescent is low weight or losing weight rapidly consider going to their school during the day to have lunch with them (privately) You can pack a lunch for both of you and eat with them privately (E.G. at your house privately in the car, in a park near the school) You can arrange this with the school and their peers don’t have to know the details.
* Remember that they are the most likely to purge within one hour of completing a meal so try and closely monitor their behavior after a meal.
* If you are concerned about your child’s low weight or rapid weight loss and they want to socialize have their friends come over to your house where you can monitor meals. It is not a punishment it is a protection.
* Remember that your child’s health is what is most important. It is more important than school, grades, or prom.
* Read the magazines your daughter reads, watch the TV shows and movies she watches. That does not mean censoring them but it does mean having awareness and discussing the Media Messages with your child…
* Do not put siblings in charge of monitoring your child’s Eating Disorder Behavior. Do ask siblings to be emotionally supportive of your adolescent struggling with the Eating Disorder. (Giving them a hug, drawling them a picture, making them a card).
* Recognize that deceptive behavior is part of the Eating Disorder. Think of the Deceptive Behavior as part of the Eating Disorder and externalize it. Let your child no you are not mad at them for deceptive behavior…you are mad at the Eating disorder
* Examine your own attitudes about food, weight, and body Image.
* Do not allow your child to Exercise unless a medical doctor and nutritionist familiar with Eating Disorders approve it.
* Have clear consistent expectations. Make sure you are on the same page with your spouse about how to treat the eating disorder. Present a united front.
* Realize that with Anorexia and Bulimia Denial is Part of the illness
* It is normal to have feelings of anger towards your child about the Eating disorder. However, do your best not to display that anger at them. Speak of your anger as being towards the disorder and if you cannot then go to your room and cry, punch a pillow, call a friend
* Don’t make statements such as “You are doing this to hurt me” or “Why can’t you just be normal”. Vent to a friend, spouse, or therapist.
* Don’t make statements like “You are making us look like bad parents!”
* Don’t believe them when they said they already ate. You only knew what your Anorexic child ate if you saw them physically eat it and you were watching closely. Even kids who never had any previous behavior problems will lie if they are Anorexic. Unfortunately, this is part of the illness.
* Let them know you are sorry they are in so much pain and you know that eating is very difficult for them.
* Ask your teenager to share some of the music that she listens to with you. Ask her to share A SONG that EXPRESSES how she is feeling.
* Call their coach at school and let them know that your child is currently unable to participate in sports if she is underweight.
* If your child is losing weight rapidly by restricting then consider talking with the school counselor and having him or her eat lunch with your child. This can be done in his or her office (not in the lunchroom).
* Let the school nurse and coach know of your child’s health condition if your Doctor has any medical concerns due to the Eating Disorder.
* Just because your Childs grades have not dropped does not mean they are not sick.
* Seek professional help for you adolescent with an Eating disorder.
* Remember the toilet is not the only place your adolescent can vomit. They can vomit in the shower or bath or in their room and put it in a bag.

Need help implementing the strategies for parents of children with an eating disorder to help them recover more efficiently? Call the Center for Growth and speak with a counselor today. Your concerns are our concerns. 267-324-9564.

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