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Six Tips for Parents on Supporting Your Adolescent Through an Eating Disorder 

By Lee Neagle MA, LPC| 3 Min Read | February 9, 2024
Eating Disorder Prevention Strategies And Awareness

For caregivers or parents, watching your adolescent suffer from an eating disorder can be painfully distressing and overwhelming. The journey to recovery can be challenging, but as a caregiver, your support can make a significant difference in your child’s recovery process.  

Below, we’ve listed six practical tips for how parents or caregivers can provide the necessary support to their child in their recovery process. 

  • Educate Yourself: Developing a deeper understanding of eating disorders is critical to your ability to effectively support your child. Educate yourself about the different types of eating disorders, their symptoms, and potential treatments. This knowledge will help you better comprehend what your child is going through and how you can best support them.
  • Seek Professional Help: Eating disorders often require professional intervention in addition to support from family members. Consult with healthcare providers specialized in eating disorder treatment to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your child’s unique situation. Our team at Inner Haven Wellness can help you better understand your child’s symptoms with a complimentary phone assessment. One of our compassionate team members can advise you on the appropriate level of care for your child once the assessment is completed. You can reach us by clicking here.
  • Avoid Blame and Shame: Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions and a common misconception is the symptoms are a choice or a phase. Avoid blaming or shaming your child for their behavior, as this can exacerbate feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Instead, encourage open and transparent communication with your child. Create a safe space in their environment where they feel comfortable discussing their feelings and struggles without judgment. Listen actively, validate their emotions, and communicate your support.
  • Promote Self-Acceptance: Cultivate a neutral body image environment at home by refraining from making negative comments about your own weight, appearance, or food. Avoid restrictive diets, compensatory behaviors or excessive exercise regimes that may inadvertently reinforce disordered behaviors. Instead, share your own experience with individuality, self-love, and acceptance.
  • Understand Triggers: Seek to identify and understand triggers that may be difficult for your child to navigate. Work together with your child to minimize exposure to these triggers and as your child works with a professional to develop healthy coping strategies you can reinforce them at home.
  • Care for Yourself: Supporting a loved one with an eating disorder can be emotionally draining and overwhelming at times. To stay committed to being a source of support and encouragement for your adolescent throughout their journey to healing it is important to care for yourself and your own mental wellbeing. You can seek support from friends, family, or support groups to navigate this challenging time effectively. In addition, at Inner Haven Wellness we offer multifamily groups for caregivers and parents to connect, learn, and share in the process together.

Supporting an adolescent through an eating disorder requires patience, empathy, and ongoing support. It can be overwhelming and challenging to see your child suffer. You can play a vital role in your child’s recovery journey by educating yourself, seeking professional help, avoiding blame and shame, promoting self-acceptance, understanding triggers, and tending to your own needs.  

We know this can be a difficult time and our team members are here to help you in this process. Feel free to contact us by clicking here, and one of our compassionate team members will contact you within 24 hours.