Protect Your Teens From an Eating Disorder

24 Jul

Raising kids is hard, especially in today’s culture and society, where they are pressured into all kinds of unhealthy activities, from drugs to alcohol to eating disorders.  As a parent, you want to shield and protect your teen from all of these things; you want to remove them from harm’s way. If you could, you’d make sure that nothing bad ever happened to them and that they’d never fall prey to the misguiding influence of someone else.

Protect teens from eating disorders with Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

As someone who really understands teens and the effects of media, society, and peer pressure to be thin, I want to talk a bit about how you can protect your teens and younger kids from the harmful effects of an eating disorder. These are tricky situations that seem to crop up from out of nowhere, but actually stem from something that is completely avoidable.

BODY IMAGE and SELF ESTEEM

To start, you can help instill in your child a healthy body image and sense of self-esteem. These are two key factors to avoiding an eating disorder altogether.

To do this, take the emphasis off of physical appearance and outward motivators and just love them for being them. Don’t make your love conditional on a certain goal or on their accomplishments; fully embrace them for being unique in their own way.

Also, provide lots of positive reinforcement for the things that they’re doing really well. If your kid is great at sports, show up at the games, cheer him on, and help him practice. If your kid is really smart, post her report card on the fridge so that everyone can appreciate her knowledge and intellect.

Protect teens from eating disorders with Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

WHO DO YOU KNOW?

A lot of influences for eating disorders are cues from the people who surround your children. If they interact with people who have an unhealthy relationship with food and their body, that can certainly affect their own way of eating and treating themselves.

If you have a problem with food or body image, look into coaching or counseling from BetterHelp to assist you so that you can set a glowing example for your child.

If you have family members who struggle with food or who are always complaining about their weight, you can talk to them about how what they’re saying is possibly affecting your child, or you can limit how much time they spend with them.

Spend quality time with your kids and get to know them, become more involved in what they’re interested in. Get to know their friends (and check them out to see if they’re a good influence for your son or daughter!).  The less exposure to negative messages about food and body image, the less likely it is that your child will suffer from an eating disorder.

Protect teens from eating disorders with Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

You can also pay attention to what your child is saying and doing. Is she talking about being fat? Is he pushing food around his plate but not eating it? Is she asking for a gym membership or spending a lot of time working out? These are signs that your child probably has an unhealthy relationship with his or her body and that they need your help.

Parents are often confused as to what they can do to help, but, as you’ve seen above; there are plenty of ways you can make things easier for your child. Make sure that they know how much you love and care about them, and that your love is not dependent on anything; it just is.

And remember that regardless of how much you try to keep your kids from harm, there’s always the possibility that something will slip through your guard. Don’t take it personally and don’t beat yourself up for it.

You are doing a great job as a parent, doing the best you know how to do. You are continuously learning and are doing everything you can to keep your children safe. That’s a lot of pressure, so applaud yourself for that.

Take time for yourself, which will help you to stay balanced, and will also be a good example for your kids. Remember to keep your eyes and your ears open, to stay engaged with your children, and to not be afraid to ask questions. (I remember when my parents first asked me if I was anorexic – they knew it before I did! You’re still their first line of defense!).

Today’s guest post is by emotional eating expert Shannon Lagasse of Hunger for Happiness.  Shannon is a recovered anorexic, bulimic, and binge eater who hated her struggling relationship with food. Thankfully, she is now a happy and confident woman who coaches others to win their battle.  She graciously agreed to offer her personal experience on recognizing eating disorder activity in our children.

19 Responses to “Protect Your Teens From an Eating Disorder”

  1. Becca March 4, 2014 at 8:56 AM #

    Good emphasis on how everyone has value, regardless of anything. Ultimately, they have value because they are a unique individual created in the image of God. Thanks for sharing this important topic at the Healthy Tuesday hop. 🙂

  2. Thomas Michael May 26, 2013 at 10:54 PM #

    Not sure how a daughter who takes high school online and doesn’t drive is a good thing. Very odd that you would want to raise your daughter in this manner. You seem to be the queen of my biggest pet peeve, the mom who wants to reinvent the wheel inregards to parenting. You even said it yourself, you were given freedom as a kid and you think you turned out fine. The mom of this generation are nothing the moms of my day. The moms of my day(80;s) were awesome. Always there for us, but didn’t smother us.

  3. Sarah MumofThree World May 9, 2013 at 5:37 AM #

    What a fantastic post, thanks very much for linking up to the Britmums teen and tween round-up. I’m pleased to say we seem to be ticking all the right boxes so far – we support our kids with their sport and school work and we are a healthy weight ourselves and don’t talk about weight, calories etc!

    • HeliMomandJPD May 9, 2013 at 10:37 PM #

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I love Britmums! Great job with the kids…it’s so hard and we all just try our best.

  4. Lexie Lane May 4, 2013 at 11:24 AM #

    I think body image is such a big thing nowadays, especially with teens, because of all the media and things that talk about sex all over the place. It is such a big issue and I hope parents can really relate to the struggles that the teens have with this. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • HeliMomandJPD May 4, 2013 at 8:59 PM #

      Thanks Lexie, I appreciate your comments. So sad and scary at the same time. I don’t remember being so “judged” growing up. Different time, different era.

  5. Cynthia May 2, 2013 at 5:56 PM #

    Our son is only 2 year old – Imagining the teen years has me worried. We do use positive reinforcement and pay close attention to what he is saying & doing. I agree in trying to set a good example & being the first line of defense for our children.

    • HeliMomandJPD May 2, 2013 at 6:16 PM #

      Well said. Sad to think though that his body image “issues” may start shortly and he’s so young. I don’t seem to remember this being such an issue when I grew up. It’s gotten worse.

  6. Christy Garrett May 1, 2013 at 8:37 AM #

    My daughter is super skinny and already thinks she is fat. I have always instilled in her mind that she is perfect. I hope that people don’t tease her and make fat jokes about her at school. Being a teen in today’s world isn’t easy, especially, with all of the bullying that takes place.

    • HeliMomandJPD May 2, 2013 at 6:18 PM #

      So sorry to hear that. When did this all happen? Why is our weight even a factor? Geez. I hope that she’s strong enough to ignore any teasing that may occur. We have to remind them of their beauty and pray for the best.

  7. Sharon April 30, 2013 at 5:15 PM #

    I wish more people paid attention to this as our kids are little. I actually had my seven year old boy tell me last month he needed to diet. The kid only weighs 60lbs and he’s a BOY!

    That was a fun talk

    • HeliMomandJPD April 30, 2013 at 7:14 PM #

      Oh my goodness, that is so ridiculous. It’s so hard to explain to kids that everything the world is telling them; is crap! I truly wish that our kids got to see examples of real women [and men] on tv, movies and magazines. None of us can compete with perfectly photoshopped pictures and our children shouldn’t try. I’m glad that you’re able to talk with him, he will remember that as he grows.

  8. Rebel Sweetheart April 30, 2013 at 11:05 AM #

    Same here. My son is far from being a teenager, and so is my niece, but these pointers are very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kristine April 30, 2013 at 8:09 AM #

    I don’t have a teen yet, but these are great pointers I can remember while raising my son and future kids, if ever. Thanks!

    • HeliMomandJPD April 30, 2013 at 8:16 AM #

      Glad you enjoyed the guest post. I appreciate your comments.

  10. Columba Lisa Smith April 29, 2013 at 10:36 PM #

    I struggled with an eating disorder as a teen. I was in a boarding school. What you say about the people surrounding us is very true. All the girls were obsessed with their weight, and out of about 30, I believe only 3 or 4 did not have some kind of eating disorder.
    My healing began when I desperately prayed to God for help. It was a moment of releasing control. I learned that a controlling mom is also a factor. Diet was the one thing I felt I could control. It was terrible, and I am so thankful for my healing. Today I’m totally fine, healthy, and never worry about my weight.

    • HeliMomandJPD April 30, 2013 at 8:18 AM #

      I’m so glad that you triumphed through your troubles and I also believe that with God all things are possible. It’s so scary to raise children today, especially since technology makes it so much easier to have “secrets”. I am glad that you shared the info about your mom; I am that mom! I have to remember to back off where food/eating is concerned; for my daughter’s sake. I’m so thankful that you commented, stop by again soon.

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