How to Support Your Child During Eating Disorder Recovery

A teenage girl sits and talks with her mom while recovering from an eating disorder
Understanding how to support your teenager during his or her eating disorder treatment is an integral part of recovery

Not being able to help your child can be one of the most difficult parts of parenting. If your teen has an eating disorder he or she will require specialized treatment along with your support in order to make a full recovery. But how can you best encourage them through this difficult journey? The key to their success is a good treatment program along with loving family support.

Recovery Goals

In order to recover, your child needs to break free of the thoughts and feelings that are troubling them and fueling the eating disorder. Treatment at an eating disorder facility will work to overcome this but you can also help by doing the following:

– Don’t try to offer advice and solutions all the time. Instead just ask: “What do you need from me?” Parents are very quick to offer advice when a teen often just wants to be heard.
– When eating with your child talk about other subjects. Ask him or her about their day or share a story you think they might enjoy. Don’t draw attention to their food or remind them what they are supposed to be eating.
– Try to do things as a family that do not include food. For example, take a trip to the mall or go see a movie.

10 Supportive Statements/Questions

While actions are important, so are your words. When you’re not sure what to say use the suggestions here to connect with and help your teen.

  1. “I may not understand what’s going on, but I’m here for you.”
  2. “I love you, care about you and it’s difficult for me to watch you struggle.”
  3. “How can I help you?”
  4. “What do you need from me?”
  5. “How are you feeling today?”
  6. “I’m proud of you for…”
  7. “I would like to be involved in your treatment so I can learn more about what you’re dealing with.”
  8. “Would you like to do something fun that doesn’t involve food?” (Of course, not at meal time).
  9. “Tell me more about what you’re dealing with.”
  10.  “If you’d like, I’ll sit with you while you eat.”

10 Things to Avoid Saying

  1. “Just eat.”
  2. “You’re so selfish.”
  3. “Why can’t you eat like a normal person.”
  4. “Can’t you see how much you are hurting me/us.”
  5. “This is all your fault.”
  6. “What are you eating,” or “Why are you eating that.”
  7. “You’re such a handful. We can’t do this anymore.”
  8. “None of your friends act this way.”
  9. “I’m so disappointed in you.”
  10. “You’re being ridiculous.”

Unlearning Behaviors

Teenagers can recover with the treatment they need and critical support from their families. Even though it’s a difficult journey, the eating disorder behaviors they learned can be unlearned from a personalized eating disorder treatment center. In order to recover your teen will need to listen to their feelings and their bodies. Then they will learn to accept and love themselves. It can happen. To get the treatment your family needs, call us today and start the recovery process in safe place where your child can learn how to cope with the challenges he or she faces.

Get help today. Call Adolescent Growth at 888-948-9998.