How To Talk To A Teen About Anorexia

The teen years are riddled with pressures that make body image a sensitive subject.

Too often parents miss the warning signs of anorexia because they believe that being image-aware is a natural part of adolescence, especially for young girls.

But if you suspect your teen has an eating disorder, it’s important to broach the subject in a constructive, supportive way, as well as to offer long-term guidance and supervision.

Listen.

A sympathetic ear may sometimes be the only thing your teen needs in order to talk about body image issues. This type of conversation can be the perfect transition into talking about anorexia or eating disorders.

Listen carefully to the concerns or frustrations he or she expresses, as it may give you more clues as to where to steer the conversation without creating conflict.

Educate.

In the age of Internet information, many teens may not be fully aware of the dangers of anorexia. What’s more, “pro ana” websites, forums and online communities can misrepresent anorexia, minimize its harm and glorify it, at worst.

When you talk to your teen, make sure you come armed with accurate information about the dangers of the disease.

Be willing to share the cold, hard truth – it may be the only accurate education your teen gets on the subject.

Act.

Talking can open the door, but it may be necessary to take action, too.

If you’re worried there is a problem, discuss with your teen what options may be available, such as seeing the family physician, eliciting the help of a counselor or joining a support group.

Support.

Communicate to your teen that there is a wide network of support available to him or her.

Letting your child know that there is a safety net could inspire the desire to get help or end unhealthy behaviors.

Most importantly, let him or her know that you are there as a source of education, support and love.

Together, you can keep the discussion of anorexia or eating disorders an open and ongoing one.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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