The times when an absolutely healthy child falls unwell, the family especially parents usually tend to find an easy self-made diagnosis: they start giving them medication for fever, cold or cough. But when your baby is identified with an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), guardians sometimes find it difficult since there is no immediate fix to treat these disorders. In such cases taking proper care of and supporting your child suffering with an eating disorder can be perplexing and scary for parents. Families involved in helping their child overcome the eating disorder may struggle with a sense of vulnerability and frustration when incapable to speedily reinstate their child’s health. While being accountable for your child’s health, you are not fully in control. Eventually, it is up to your child to select the path to recovery. As a responsible family, your duty is to generate an environment of support, sustenance and information for your child, to allow them to start taking charge for their own well-being.
But in cases where the children are not ready to self-motivate themselves, the greatest difficult the parents have to face is to let them to make decisions about their food and nutritional intake as they grow and learn. At times these choices are likely to cause real harm to a child’s body and mind. Parents whose child has been suffering from an unwanted eating disorder definitely face a predominantly hard challenge, of upholding their child’s health while also encouraging them to care for their body and mind.
Signs and causes of child falling prey to an eating disorder:
The causes of eating disorders are very complex, characteristically encompassing hereditary, emotional, environmental, and sociocultural aspects. Children are at augmented jeopardy if they already have a psychological disorder or if they experience environmental emphases on dieting and the ideal body shape. Noticeable signs for families to comprehend that the child has fallen trap to such a disorder are when the child starts demonstrating an increased peril of weight gain, inaccurate sense of body image, obsession with eating food, variations in child weight, dieting at an young age, declining to eat in front of others, child indulging in extreme exercising, unusual food rituals or displaying strange behaviours, making a trip to the washroom post eating, irritability or variations in mood, weakness and tiredness, thinning of hair, indulging in sports that focus on weight loss, having a family member with an eating illness and cerebral health problems such as anxiety, depression, or OCD to name a few.
How can families play an active role in helping a Child with an eating disorder?
Get informed about your child’s health condition: It is extremely hard to have understanding and sympathy about something that feels alien, so it is of primary importance for parents to get themselves familiarized with eating disorders. Seek out information and get yourself educated. Scout for methods that resonate with you and then share this information with your child so they can comprehend the consequences of the eating illness. If they hear it enough, there is a possibility that they may start to understand, and choose to turn positively towards their health.
Prioritize Self-Care Yourself: Always remember, the kind of lifestyle you set in front of your children, they will always follow suit. You can only efficiently care for your child when your own requirements are being met. Parents should themselves start following a well-balanced lifestyle by consuming nutritious meals. Get suitable amounts of sleep and exercise properly. Engage in activities that feel wholesome and joyful for you. If you follow a healthy lifestyle, you child will automatically follow your footsteps.
Get early help: When you diagnose an eating disorder early, the child definitely stands a better chance of recovery. Schedule an appointment with your child’s paediatrician to further aid your child’s recovery process, personally attend all appointments with your child, the treatment will take time and effort. Get involved with the care team to get all the assistance your child requires.
Practice Compassion and kindness: Offer yourself and your child sympathy. Never hold your child to be a culprit for falling prey to such a disorder. Guilt, blame, and disgrace will fail to create the gentle conditions that best serve positive healing. Never frame the unwholesome health habits that your child has been following as not something as “bad behaviour” that demands punishment, but instead as signs of a disorder that reflect the discomfort they feel inside, and call for love and comfort.
Nurture Trust: Lend your child ample opportunity to have faith and trust in you. Your child is possibly experiencing terrific amount of shame about their eating ailment, which forces them to departure into silence without speaking out their truth. Let your child understand they can always come and tell you when they purge or are feeling anxiety about eating, and that you are trying to comprehend with their condition.
It is so significant for a child to feel safe to define aloud their agony.
Believe in Retrieval: It is important for families to firstly believe that the phase of retrieval is possible. Set for your child a steady confidence that they have the courage and strength to accomplish health, and that blunders are not signals of failure. Particularly in times of setback, it is vital to offer absolute support and highlight your belief that recovery is possible.
On the whole, if your child is purging or is binging on food, the first and foremost treatment involves the family highlighting on standardising their intake of food. So, a child who over-indulgence needs to be thought to consume the next meal at a steady time. The child must be encouraged to eat within every few hours, hungry or not hungry, in order to stop big hunger cues later on, which lead to bingeing. Above all, remember that retrieval from an eating syndrome doesn’t happen just overnight, and it doesn’t happen alone. Eating disorders are curable, and with the right kind of support from your family and child health expert, your child can go on to live a full and healthy lifestyle.