Helping Your Child
Please note: For ease in reading, we have used “she” and “her” in the description below even though eating disorders exist in men, women, girls, and boys. This advice is suitable for a child of either gender.
First, remain calm. Approaching a child with an eating disorder can be tricky. Naturally, it is very upsetting to discover that your child might have an eating disorder. If you are panicked, talk to your pediatrician, your partner, or a trustworthy family member or friend. Avoid letting your child overhear you or see you distraught.
Find resources. Before approaching your child, you need to find out what resources are available for your child and for your family, so you can offer her a helpful strategy. Talk with your pediatrician, internist, and school counselor or nurse for information and referrals. You might want to talk to another parent who has been in a similar situation for support and information about available resources. Learn as much about eating disorders as you need to feel like an informed parent and advocate.
Meet with a referred therapist initially – without your child, but with your partner – to learn how the therapist practices and to discuss the best strategy for approaching your child. If you are feeling strong emotions such as anger towards your child, you might want to work with a therapist on your own before approaching her.