One of the most tedious and daunting responsibilities in the life of a parent is finding the delicate balance between caring for the child and teaching them independence. It is indeed a tough challenge for a parent to tend to the needs of the child, while in the same way also training them to make decisions for themselves without an elder’s supervision.
Undeniably, a child suffering from an eating disorder will really be devastating to any parent. Just like any other neurological disease, it is pretty tricky and complicated to understand fully.
A lot of factors have been cited to cause it such as environment and heredity, but the more important thing is early detection and treatment before it becomes a critical health issue. You have a significant role as a parent in helping your teen with a problem.
If you think your child is affected and need affirmation, here are 5 signs your teen is struggling with an eating disorder.
A healthy growing child continues to increase in height and weight until the young adult stage, and a child losing weight instead of gaining them indicates a potential eating problem. Note that the weight abnormality doesn’t have to be really obvious and noticeable- sometimes you will not find the smoking gun until you intentionally and carefully investigate these metrics.
It can be subtle enough to be easily missed and overlooked, so be careful. If your child’s weight stagnates or plateaus, not necessarily losing it, or if the gain is really minimal, it could still indicate problems.
Missing meals at the table
If your child does anything to miss the family lunch or dinner, or hides in the room or somewhere during meal time, it could also indicate a problem. A child with an eating disorder may seem to bring and eat their food in their own room only to hide or throw it away when the parent is not watching.
Don’t tread lightly every time your children excuse themselves at the family meal, especially if it happens so frequently. You might be allowing the disorder to progress and cause further damage.
Excessive obsession over body image
As in the case of anorexia nervosa, children who exhibit the disorder will be extremely conscious over the way their body looks. It could be indicative when children place themselves in front of a mirror for hours, avoiding the pool or the beach, and wearing clothing that hides their body form.
Whether it’s just a case of simple vanity or something more serious, make sure your attention is on it.
Disappearing after every meal
If your child does indeed eat together with family during meals but immediately run to the bathroom after eating, it could be that they’re intentionally throwing up and purging themselves.
This is called bulimia, which is serious enough that it could actually cause severe complications leading to death.
Due to its nature of being a neurological problem, changes in demeanor are often associated with a child suffering from an an eating disorder. These include depression, isolation, irritability, and social distancing. Make sure to talk to your child if you observe these symptoms.
Eating disorder isn’t severe on its own, but if you allow it to happen, it could lead to potentially disabling and even lethal health issues. Early detection and treatment is key to your child’s wellbeing.