As a parent, there are countless matters in your child’s life that bring joy, happiness, and excitement. There are also a myriad of matters in your child’s life that can raise concern and cause alarm. In our youth and appearance based culture, one of these alarming matters is eating disorders. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia, along with more general disordered eating, are commonly thought of as a problem that affects teen girls. Teen girls are historically most affected by these disorders, but boys and younger/older children can also develop these issues. Read on for 3 clues that may indicate your child is on a path toward an eating disorder.
3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder:
- Your child is constantly looking in the mirror. Do you notice that your child seems obsessed with the mirror? Does your child appear to be scrutinizing her face and body? Children with body image concerns will often spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, which may take away from homework, family time and other necessary or enjoyed activities.
- Your child is overly focused on glamorous images from the media. If your child appears to be fixated on certain celebrity icons, and more specifically, the appearance of these icons, she may also be struggling with her own body image. Some children pull out magazine photos of a current celebrity obsession and create a shrine of the image. While celebrity crazes are common among children and adults alike, if your child seems to idolize the physical appearance rather than the talents of celebrities, it may be a sign that your child is unhappy with her own image.
- Your child is skipping meals or cutting out foods she once enjoyed. If you notice that your child is eating much less at meals or is no longer eating foods that she once loved, it could be a sign that she is attempting to lose weight and restrict calories. Dr. Burnell, Vice President and Co-Director at the Renfrew Center Foundation (a nationally recognized treatment center for individuals with eating disorders), reports that child and adolescent athletes may be especially prone to cutting meals and various food groups because of the pressure to perform and compete.
If your child is regularly displaying any of these behaviors, therapeutic interventions aimed towards building self-esteem, learning and utilizing various coping skills to deal with common life stressors, and practicing certain cognitive behavioral therapy strategies may be crucial to help them work through body image or eating concerns. Please contact one of our behavior therapists for more information.