Talking to an adolescent child about the importance of eating disorder recovery through anorexia treatment facilities can be challenging. Typically, the first people to become aware of a teen’s issues with anorexia nervosa are their parents, coaches, teachers or friends. When encouraging a teen to learn more about the benefits of anorexia nervosa treatment, it is normal to anticipate an emotionally charged conversation. However, taking the time to mentally prepare for a difficult conversation about next steps and when to search for anorexia treatment centers is necessary. To help parents and loved ones begin this vital conversation, we’ve highlighted a few tips below.
5 Essential Tips for Talking to Teens About Anorexia Nervosa Recovery
1. Prepare Resources
Know that many teens are not fully aware that their disordered eating patterns are an issue. Gather resources that will help them understand the severity of an anorexia nervosa diagnosis. This will help them to understand what they’ve been experiencing and learn more about the benefits of early intervention. Additionally, utilizing literature surrounding their condition can also make it easy to understand the role that adolescent anorexia treatment facilities will play in the recovery process.
2. Express Concern and Compassion
Loved ones should make sure that they’ve picked a good time to talk to the teen. Begin the conversation in a private space when everyone has adequate time to speak openly and honestly. Parents should approach the subject of anorexia nervosa treatment in a caring and non-confrontational manner. Calmly outline specific observations that have been a cause for concern and focus on disordered eating behaviors that have been easily noticeable at home and at school.
This is perhaps the most important step in the entire process and without good listening skills, there is a chance that parents could end up pushing their teen further away. Give the teen plenty of time to respond to any concerns that have been presented. Listen carefully to each response in an open and non-judgmental manner. Face the teen and maintain eye contact, with an open posture. Take special care to avoid conflict. If the teen refuses to acknowledge that there is an issue, parents should restate their previous concerns and leave themselves open as supportive listeners.
4. Validate Feelings and Encourage Conversation
Summarize everything that the teen has said, reconfirming that after everything that has been observed recently, those closest to them believe that they have issues surrounding food, eating, body image, or exercise. Parents should once again restate their concerns and explain that anorexia nervosa treatment is essential for long-term recovery.
5. End with an Action Step
Parents should have an action step in mind, like searching for anorexia treatment centers, before beginning the conversation. When they feel comfortable, they can share this action step with the teen. If the teen is responsive, parents can take the time to research anorexia treatment facilities that focus on adolescent care with their child. Offer to make an appointment with them and to accompany them for an initial consultation at multiple anorexia treatment centers if necessary.
Parents should also work hard to use “I” statements instead of using “you” language. For example “I am concerned about your health because you often refuse to eat meals.” Avoid placing blame or using accusatory language with blank statements like, “You need to start…”
Approaching such a sensitive subject can be very intimidating for most parents. But with the right set of tools and information behind them, it is possible for this important conversation to end on a very positive note. Early intervention is an essential step in the anorexia nervosa recovery process, so parents should work hard to begin these conversations sooner rather than later.