How to Support Your Teen Through Eating Disorder Treatment

How to Support Your Teen Through Eating Disorder Treatment

When your child start treatment for their eating disorder, you will likely experience a mix of emotions. You might feel relieved that they received a diagnosis and are getting help. You may also feel anxious and scared, as any parent would. Fortunately, there are ways that you can be a more supportive parent during this time.

Whether your child is in a local residential programs for teenagers or receiving outpatient treatment, consider the tips in this simple guide. By being showing love and being a steady presence for your teen, you can help them make a physical and emotional recovery.

Do your research

When supporting your teenage child during their treatment, it’s best to come from an informed place. Do plenty of research on their type of eating disorder. Ask their treatment center for information on their specific treatment plan. By understanding the psychology behind their eating disorder and how their treatment plan will help, you can empathize with your child and trust the recovery process. If you have any questions, reach out to their treatment center for answers. They likely want parents to be as informed as possible.

Avoid power struggles

When your child eats meals with your family, you want to be as compassionate as possible. This means avoiding power struggles over food. If your child is hesitant to eat, gently encourage then without raising your voice or forcing them. It’s also important to avoid policing their eating. If they feel that you are hovering or monitoring them, they may be more likely to lie to you or create distance. By remaining a steady and supportive presence during mealtimes and otherwise, you can build trust with your child.

Talk to their doctor

Since your child is a minor, you should have a role in their recovery. This means that you will need to talk to their doctor frequently. Be sure that you always attend these meetings, whether they are in person or over the phone. The doctor will inform you of your child’s progress. They may give you specific ways that you can help your child overcome obstacles or improve even more. You can also give the doctor insight into what behaviors you have noticed at home. This open communication will be useful as you track your child’s progress after recovery, as well.

Watch your language

Parents of children with eating disorders need to avoid triggering language at all times. Avoid any talk of weight loss and diets. Set a positive example and don’t visibly restrict your own eating in front of your child. In general, it is best to de-emphasize the importance of body image and appearance. Be sure not to give appearance-based compliments to any friends or family members, choosing alternative compliments instead. Talk to your other children and family members about these boundaries, as well. Your whole family can work together to help your child through recovery and beyond.

Seek support

As a parent, it is easy to throw all of your energy into your child’s well being. This is especially true when your child is recovering from an eating disorder. However, you need to be your best self in order to support your child. To help yourself cope with this difficult time, see a therapist regularly. You may also consider joining a group of other parents whose children are in recovery. It’s also essential to practice self-care and take part in activities that you enjoy. By caring for your own well-being and mental health, you can be a steadier presence for your child.

Helping your child through their recovery program can be challenging. However, the effort will be well worth it when your child is living a healthy life again. By communicating with your child and leading by example, you can support them through this difficult time. Eventually, your whole family will be healthy and thriving again.

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