Understanding How Parents Can Talk to Teens About Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

As teenagers grapple with the demands of their daily lives, they may keep their lips sealed about the stressors they face – and the disordered thoughts and behaviors that may arise as a result. When approached by family and friends, teens may choose to stay silent about their troubles and try to find solutions on their own. As the symptoms of anorexia nervosa develop, they may quickly end up in over their heads as they look for ways to cope. Without help from their parents, many may wait far too long to seek and receive anorexia nervosa treatment.

Parents can help their teens open up and accept the need for treatment by approaching each talk with confidence and using the following tips. With these tips, it is possible to get past the barriers teens put up and start to engage in real, honest dialogue. Through this connection, it is possible to help teens get the treatment they need to become and remain recovered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Eating Disorders and Their Signs & Symptoms

Parents need to go into each conversation with their teen feeling confident and knowledgeable. They can accomplish this goal by learning about eating disorders and the signs associated with them. This allows parents to provide the support their teens need to recognize the importance of receiving an anorexia nervosa diagnosis and treatment.

When equipped with all the information, parents can support their teens to overcome feelings of denial and potentially see the signs in themselves. Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa teens may recognize in themselves include:

  • Urge to restrict eating
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Negative body image
  • Low self-esteem
  • Need to engage in food rituals
  • Loss of menstrual periods
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Difficulties concentrating

Sharing these warning signs and other facts about anorexia nervosa can empower teens to take control of their health and seek treatment.

Drop All Expectations

High parental expectations can put too much pressure on teens, making them shut down and refuse to talk. Teens may fear disappointing their parents if they engage in the discussion honestly. As a result, they may keep quiet about their difficulties and resist admitting they may be experiencing symptoms of anorexia nervosa.

To overcome this dilemma, parents need to leave their expectations at the door and simply offer compassion to their teens. This can be accomplished by avoiding any expressions that imply disappointment, anger or sadness. Overall, parents must be there to support their teen on the path to getting help for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and to keep the conversation going.

Always Avoid Judgement

Another thing that may make teens immediately shut down the conversation is any sign of judgment. Parents need to voice their love and acceptance to ensure their teens feel comfortable talking with them. To effectively leave judgment at the door, parents must first identify their own biases. This might mean going to talk to a therapist to sort out strong feelings about eating disorders.

When parents can avoid judgment in talks with their teens, they allow their compassion to shine through. This is what many teens need more than ever, especially when they are dealing with the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Without judgment, teens can share their thoughts, feelings and experiences to receive the help they need at anorexia nervosa treatment centers and home.

Use Compassionate Language

Compassionate communication opens the doors for deep talks about the risks of eating disorders and the importance of treatment. With this approach, parents can show their teens they care and express their love without the pressure. In response, teens lower their defenses and feel they can open up about their troubles and desires.

Communicating with compassion requires parents to sincerely try to understand their teens’ unique perspectives. They must attempt to put themselves in their teens’ shoes to experience their daily stressors and the impact of those experiences. They should listen thoughtfully and carefully select their responses to show their teens support. It is very important parents do not take what their teens say personal nor respond in hurt or anger.

Put the Focus on “I” Statements

When talking with their teens, it is recommended parents use “I” statements to avoid inciting shame or guilt. This approach helps teens see parents respect their space and independence while still caring about their wellbeing. It helps teens from feeling attacked and defensive during each conversation about anorexia nervosa diagnosis and treatment.

Through the use of “I” statements, parents can express their love for their teens while addressing concerning issues. They can help their teens see their status from a new perspective, potentially helping them understand their need for anorexia nervosa treatment.

Find Frequent Opportunities to Talk

Starting from an early age, teens need to talk about eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, to feel comfortable with this line of dialogue. Parents can help their teens remain comfortable with the talks by keeping them short and low-key. Even during the busiest of days, parents have many opportunities to have these educational discussions.

Parents can find time to talk to their teens while:

  • Driving to and from activities
  • Sitting down together for meals
  • Getting ready for the day
  • Preparing to go to bed
  • Taking family walks
  • Cleaning the house

The discussions should not center around the teens’ behavior or the parents’ worries, but eating disorders in general. Centering the talks around general information keeps teens from feeling as if they are being put on the spot. This allows them to learn the facts they need to open their hearts and minds to the possibility of going into anorexia nervosa treatment.

Ask About Their Wishes and Ambitions

Parents need to ask their teens about their wishes and ambitions, and share the ways anorexia and other eating disorders can act as barriers to these goals. Otherwise, teens may not see how much these conditions can take away if they do not attend anorexia nervosa treatment centers for care.

Parents need to share that the symptoms of anorexia nervosa often worsen until they fully impede participation in teens’ favorite activities, including playing sports and participating in after-school clubs. They should also discuss how disordered thought patterns and behaviors begin to overtake every aspect of life.

Parents also need to talk about the physical and mental health effects that could keep them from participating in these activities. These health complications may include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Poor focus
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Infections

As these complications develop, they tend to continually worsen as teens restrict their eating and increase exercise levels. Serious medical problems can result, including pancreatitis, kidney disease and heart failure. Talking about these problems while framing them around each teens’ preferred activities can help them visualize a better future.

Use Patience to Get Past Resistance

Even when using a compassionate, judgment-free approach, parents can expect to be met with resistance from their teens. This reaction often arises due to denial or an unwillingness to accept help. Anorexia nervosa symptoms can often cloud the mind, making it difficult to see the path to becoming recovered. Parents can get past resistance by using patience while talking with their teens.

Parents of teenagers must be willing to engage in calm discussions on a regular basis. They also need to exercise awareness of their emotions and avoid reacting in frustration when the talks do not seem productive. Teens may not often show they are absorbing the information and reflecting on the discussions. In fact, it may often appear they are rejecting the information outright and refusing to see the situation before them.

In most cases, they are really listening and the discussions help open their minds to the possibility of getting help from anorexia nervosa treatment centers. Parents are encouraged to be patient to see results. If teens are in dire need of help, admissions specialists at eating disorder treatment centers can help facilitate the discussion and motivate teens to accept care.

Invite Questions

Teens may not feel comfortable speaking up unless their parents invite them to ask questions. The ability to ask questions allows them to explore the subject on their own terms. They can explore the aspects of anorexia nervosa they want to understand best to help themselves or even their friends. This helps them approach the issue as a problem-solver rather than someone in need of help.

Depending on their knowledge and comfort levels with the subject, teens may not have a lot of questions at first. Parents can offer prompts that help relieve teens of their uncertainty and start to explore the questions surrounding eating disorders. Through this approach, parents and teens can work on demystifying anorexia nervosa and revealing it as a medical condition that can be resolved through treatment.

This is when parents’ focus on building knowledge about anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa will come in handy. They will be able to answer most of their teens’ questions with confidence using judgment-free language they can understand. Parents can stay calm and compassionate when they have the answers their teens seek before any questions arise. If they are unable to answer the questions, they can research the facts online or with help from admission specialists at anorexia nervosa treatment centers.

Get Ready to Listen

Parents can make the most of every talk with their teens by listening far more than they speak. Although it is important for parents to convey their thoughts and feelings to their teens, silence can prove more effective in breaking down barriers. By allowing for silent reflection after speaking a bit, teens have an opportunity to process their thoughts and find the right words. This keeps stress levels low for everyone.

The breaks in conversation can also help parents by providing them time to temper their emotions. Talking with teens about eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can bring up a lot of strong feelings. Parents need to speak calmly, compassionately and without judgment, which requires an understanding of their emotions. By giving their teens time to listen and share their own thoughts, parents can keep the conversation flowing without causing stress.

Inspire Action by Sharing Solutions

Through all these talks, teens need to know what to do if they have any symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Parents can inspire action by sharing the treatment solutions that typically work best for individuals with eating disorders of all kinds. They can help their teenagers learn about how to seek treatment and what to expect through every phase of the process.

When parents present these solutions as tools, teens can see a path toward becoming recovered. They can better understand the process of receiving an anorexia nervosa diagnosis and how treatment can help. This helps ensures teens can see a way out and accept help when they need it most.

Parents can reach out to admissions specialists at anorexia nervosa treatment centers to receive help for their teens with eating disorders. The treatment center staff at Oliver-Pyatt Centers is available at 866-511-4325 to assist parents in getting help for their teens.