Messages To Get Across When You Talk To Your Teen About An Eating Disorder

Realizing that your teenager is struggling with an eating disorder isn't an easy situation for either of you, but it's something that you need to address. Eating disorders are highly serious, and it's possible that this condition will dramatically impede your teen's quality of life — and potentially even threaten it — if this behavior isn't curbed. Before you can get your teenager to accept help in the form of visiting a treatment center, you'll need to discuss the problem with him or her. This isn't a time to dramatically confront the teen about your suspicion or discovery. Instead, here are three messages that you should get across.

You're Not Judging

When you talk to your teenager about his or her eating disorder, it's possible that the teen will feel judged. One of your top priorities should be to get across the message that you're not judging the teen. Avoid making statements to the effect that the teen's behavior is wrong or that it goes against what you've taught him or her over the years. It's probable that the teen will already be highly sensitive about this topic, and you expressing any sentiments in a judgmental manner can quickly derail the conversation.

You're Concerned Because You Love Him/Her

It's also important to make it clear that you're concerned about your teenager's eating disorder because you love him or her. The reality is that eating disorders are hazardous to the health of those who struggle with them, and you want to get the message across that you don't want your teen's health to suffer any longer. You don't need to try to use scare tactics during this conversation; it's probable that your teen already knows that bad things can arise from an eating disorder. Make it clear that you love your teen and want him or her to be healthy.

You'll Support Him/Her

Teens with eating disorders can often feel alone. They might feel that no one understands them and that help isn't available. Make it clear that you'll support your teen however you can. This support should include finding the best treatment center for the teenager to attend, as well as fulfilling your parental responsibilities such as attending meetings and counseling sessions with the teen at the center. Part of your support should come in the form of keeping this topic within your family, rather than telling others about what your teen is going through.