Anorexia in Children: 10 Effective Tips on How to Help

Do you suspect that your child is suffering from anorexia? These 10 tips will help you deal with the situation.

Anorexia is a serious mental health condition characterized by a person restricting the amount of food that he or she eats. It is very common for boys and girls. The UK National Heal Services says that this condition usually develops at the ages of 16 to 17.

I have a friend who has a daughter with anorexia. The teenager has been starving herself for years. It hasn’t been an easy situation for the family, to say the least.

And I can only imagine how difficult it is for parents to watch their children deal with other psychological problems related to Anorexia such as depression.

If you think your child is anorexic, the following are 10 tips that you should keep in mind in dealing with this condition:

Recognize the signs

The first step in dealing with an anorexic child is to recognize the signs of the condition. Simply put, you can’t help your child if you don’t even understand how to recognize the signs of Anorexia.

The most common symptoms of Anorexia are drastic weight loss and near obsession in cutting down food intake. Anorexic children will normally refuse to eat, and when they do, they only eat tiny portions.

In some cases, anorexic children may also eat like normal people. But the difference is that they would force themselves to vomit after eating. Other signs of anorexia are skipping meals, difficulty in concentrating and obsession with body size.

Make them realize they have Anorexia

Children with anorexia normally deny that they have an eating disorder. They are usually afraid to admit it. This happens with almost all anorexic people. They’re likely to hide their conditions for years.

One of the biggest challenges for parents of anorexic children is to make their kids realize that they have the eating disorder. Since it is normal for anorexic children to deny their state, parents should be prepared to approach their kids several times.

Ask but don’t accuse your child of having Anorexia

Avoid being straightforward to your child about your suspicions. This would only prompt her to deny it.  Instead, ask if they have an eating problem. The child may not admit to it first, but this is a good start to open dialogue.

Use “I” in your statements

Using “I” in your statements can be very comforting for a child who’s fearful or in denial. This would also let them know that you are concerned. Tell them, “I am worried about you since I haven’t seen you eat dinner this week.”

Discuss but don’t engage in any debate

If your suspicion turns out true, then your first conversation with your anorexic child will be the first of much more. As a parent, your goal is to make your child open up. Don’t try to engage them in a debate. After all, you are there to assist and guide them and not to prove to them that you know more than what they do.

Don’t make them feel that they are at fault

You wouldn’t blame someone for being diagnosed with cancer, so don’t blame your child for being anorexic, either.  

Anorexia is a mental health problem. It’s not their fault they are anorexic. Instead of blaming, why not comfort?

Listen—all the time

Your child may or may not agree with you all the time. They may respond to you in silence, or shout at you while denying that they have Anorexia.

It’s OK, but you need to pay attention no matter what they says or don’t say. You have to show them that you are there to listen. This let’s them know that you hold their opinions in high regard and more importantly, you are deeply committed to help them in overcoming this disorder.

Give her small rewards

It can be very difficult to encourage anorexic children to eat. But giving them small rewards may do the trick. For example, let them go to an event with their friends if they were able to eat a healthy dinner. If they manage to reach a particular weight, give them a bigger reward like a shopping spree or a week at a camp they love.

Limit Internet use

You might not know it but your child could be visiting pro-eating disorder websites. Doing so could further their belief that they doesn’t have to eat. You might have to monitor or limit Internet use.

Plan family meals

Plan family meals together with your children. This gives the anorexic child an opportunity to understand the importance of sitting down with the rest of the family and more importantly, of eating well.

Add more healthy foods for your whole family. These super foods are also in need of being plated well to attract to children’s attention. I guarantee you will see the difference after 1 or 2 months.

Don’t dismiss Anorexia as a problem that would eventually go away. It can lead to many dangerous medical and mental ailments. By following these 10 tips, you can get a head start in helping your child overcome Anorexia.

 

Susan Conley’s favourite space at home is her kitchen. She can stay there for a whole day just cooking and baking for her family. She is a home cook who wants to share her cooking experience with everyone. She hopes her information is useful and her story inspires parents to take action. with love!”
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