Being a parent means being tuned in to what your child tells you – and also what they’re not telling you. Not only do you need to listen when your child wants to speak, but you also need to be constantly aware of any changes in their behavior, and any warning signs that there might be a problem.
This includes any indicators that your child might have an eating disorder.
An eating disorder is a sign of a bigger mental health problem, and it’s important to get the best help for your child if you suspect they are suffering with this condition. What’s difficult regarding this generation of children is the amount of time spent on social media and online, where they are constantly presented with “the perfect image”.
Here are some pointers to look out for when deciding if your child has the disorder.
They’re Avoiding Family Meals
Mealtimes are an important time to sit down as a family and talk. They’re also helpful for you to assess any changes in your child, especially if mealtimes are the only times you can see them most days around a busy work or school schedule. It’s important to encourage family meals together in order for a change in behavior to be flagged up.
If your child is suddenly resistant to joining the family at the table, this could be the first sign that something is wrong. Your child may not want to eat in front of the family, or they may pick apart or play with their food, instead of actually consuming it.
If you are concerned that your child’s mental health is compromised due to them avoiding socialization and changing their eating patterns, it’s important to seek professional guidance; clinics such as Eden Treatment can help.
Their Weight Has Changed
Small fluctuations are normal in everybody’s weight, and if you’re attuned to your child’s lifestyle, diet and level of fitness, you will know when something suddenly seems off. It’s not as easy to notice a weight problem in a child as it is in an adult, as a child might not look particularly undernourished – but they could be seriously underweight for their height.
Likewise, your child may also be over the weight expected for their height. If these weight changes don’t add up based on the meals you have been preparing for them, then this could be a sign of a disorder.
Increase in Exercise
It’s always great for a child to get plenty of exercise and fresh air, but if your child has suddenly developed an obsessive interest in working out, this could be a signal. With anorexia disorders, children may be unable to stop their excessive fitness routines in an effort to lose more and more weight. With issues of bulimia, children may wish to increase their fitness routine to even out their binge eating.
A healthy interest in exercise is good for your child, but if their nature seems obsessive, then it may be because of an eating disorder.