Resources and guidelines for parents who have a teenager with an eating disorder
If you have a teenager with an eating disorder, you’re probably desperate for resources and information to help you navigate this difficult situation. The good news is that we’ve got the resources you need to figure things out and start helping your teen recover from their eating disorder.
Teenagers develop eating disorders for many different reasons. Your teen may have experienced puberty and growth spurts that made them feel uncomfortable in their body. They may be experiencing high levels of stress at school or on sports teams. And, unfortunately, they may be exposed to harmful ideas and ways of thinking about bodies, weight, and eating from their peers and social media. Maybe your teen has always been anxious and perfectionistic, and lately all their attention is on their weight, exercise and eating.
Whatever your teenager’s symptoms are, we can help you understand them and start to take meaningful action to help them recover. Eating disorders don’t have to be a life sentence – people can and do recover.
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Parenting a teenager with an eating disorder
Parenting a teenager who has an eating disorder is not easy. Eating disorders are complex illnesses that must be treated comprehensively. Since most eating disorders begin during the teen years, parents are on the front lines of treatment and care. But few feel prepared to handle it. Eating disorders are biopsychosocial disorders, meaning they combine biology, psychology, and social factors. Here are three key things about parenting a teenager with an eating disorder you should know:
- There’s a lot of pressure on teenagers that exacerbates the risk of eating disorders
- Teens have been taught that eating disorder behaviors are healthy (even though they aren’t)
- Mental healthcare for teens is really hard to get
⭐ Tip: Help your teenager feel safe and secure at home. This will reduce their stress and anxiety, which contributes to eating disorders. Keep in mind that when your teenager says “life sucks,” it may be true. It doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent, it just means the world is tough on teenagers. Yours likely needs love and support as they navigate this crazy world.
Striving for peer validation can worsen people’s body image by linking popularity to appearance.
Influence of Culture & Media on Teen Body Image
This article is from Alejandra Sandomirskiy, a high school sophomore who addresses how peers, cultural messages, and the media impact a person’s body image. How do you think people should handle the impact of peers, cultural messages, and the media?
An eating disorder? No, not my child!
For two years, I lived in a fog of guilt after my child was diagnosed with an eating disorder by a specialist and then hospitalized. I constantly questioned myself, wondering how in the world my child could have this problem: No, not my child. I know her better than anyone else on the earth. She’s complex, but no way could she have a mental disorder!
Teenagers in Eating Disorder Treatment Programs
There are a few common challenges that adolescents may face when they enter residential treatment. Being away from the familiarity of home and their friends and families can certainly be difficult, especially since many of them have never spent any significant amount of time away from home.
< More About Parenting With Eating Disorders
free cheat sheet: Parenting A Child With An Eating Disorder
⭐ Get ready for recovery and find out how you can prepare yourself for maximum success.
⭐ Find out the essential steps and family rules you need to have in place for recovery.
⭐ Make your home recovery-ready with six simple steps that anyone can do.
More Resources for Parents Who Have a Teenager With An Eating Disorder
Parent Scripts For Eating Disorder Recovery
Scripts to help you figure out what to say to help your child with an eating disorder. Use these scripts:
- At the dinner table when behavior is getting out of control
- When you need to set boundaries – fast!
- After something happened so you can calmly review the triggers and events