Parenting is no easy task. It’s a lifelong commitment that comes with heavy sacrifices. But, while parenting is a challenge to anyone, those with children living with eating disorders may have even more difficulty. It can be challenging to navigate parenting for a child with mental health issues. But, fortunately, there is parenting advice these individuals can take advantage of to get a better grasp on how they can help their child.
The Special Needs of Parents of a Child with an Eating Disorder
Every parent has the difficult task of raising their child into a self-sufficient, healthy human being. Furthermore, a parent must ensure their child’s health and wellness by providing for their needs. But, for parents of children with an eating disorder, being a parent can be even more difficult. Not only must they care and raise their child, but they must also work to identify eating disorder behavior, educate themselves about how to help their child, and find effective, professional help through treatment and therapy.
Establishing Healthy Boundaries
If you’ve already had to identify and address an eating disorder in your child, then you know the difficulties of supporting a child in eating disorder recovery. With each turn, you must showcase the love, support, and compassion that your child needs. And, to be able to commit yourself and your family to healthy boundaries established with the help of treatment and therapy tools. This includes making decisions that support your child’s healing and enforcing behaviors that support her recovery.
Dealing with Unhealthy Behaviors
Along with having to support a child’s recovery by enforcing rules and boundaries, but you may also have to deal with the mood fluctuations that can occur with various mental health issues. While many teenagers can go through a “rebellious stage”, these surges in emotions for those with eating disorders can be especially dangerous. This is because they can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are harmful to recovery. So, parents of children with eating disorders may find it difficult to manage these outbursts or behaviors.
Parenting Advice for Helping Your Child
Certainly, there are many challenges for parents of children with eating disorders. But, fortunately, there are things that these parents can do to help their child. Furthermore, there are even some things that these parents can do for themselves to ensure their own health and wellbeing.
Remind Yourself that Your Child has a Mental Disorder
It can be especially difficult to deal with a child who may treat you how you may not want to be treated. Or, who says things that may be hurtful – even though you are just trying to help them. But, it’s important to remember that your child has a mental disorder. And, they don’t have full management of their emotions, what they think, what they say, and how they behave. Specifically, if they are currently malnourished and hormones are not at balanced levels as a result. So, remind yourself that with treatment and help, these bouts of emotion may not be as frequent.
Get On Board Yourself
Whether you know it or not, parents have a big impact on their children. So, support your recovering child by jumping on board with treatment initiatives. This may include using positive language, working on your own relationship with your body, and understanding the importance of nutrition. When you implement these strategies into your own life, your child is more likely to mimic these behaviors and thought patterns into their life.
Trust the Experts
When you get help from professional eating disorder specialists, you need to trust that your child is in good hands. And, that you are in good hands as well. So, if you need to ask a question, parenting advice, or seek help with boundaries or coping skills, reach out to your treatment team. This way, when your child is done with treatment or is spending time at home, they’re always in an environment that supports their recovery 100%.
If you need to find a treatment team that’s dedicated to helping women of all ages with eating disorders, Willow Place for Women can help. To learn more about our outpatient treatment programs that teach women the skills needed to establish lasting eating disorder recovery, contact us today.