How to help kids with eating disorders

Anorexia

(NB This photo is taken from the internet – it is not someone I know). This week I’ve struggled with what to write for our fortnightly post. This is my third attempt (before I can watch my Friday night movie). The other two were ‘How to enjoy the moment’ and ‘How to do something else’ (I can’t even remember to tell you the truth).

Thankfully, since neither of these articles is inspiring, I had a phone call today from my gorgeous friend and single father of three, Ben. He told me again about the positive changes in his daughter since he let go of his fear that he was a bad father. He also told me that since that worked so well he decided to let go of his fear of her ‘being fat’ (his house has minimal junk food, but she had a habit of sneaking it and binging on it). And then he said, “That worked too! Get this, she came to me the other night and said, ‘Daddy I want to eat healthy like you because I don’t like being pudgy. Can you help me?’” Then they sat down together and wrote a plan! Cool hey?

“The problem now,” Ben explained, “is that I need some help to make sure she doesn’t get obsessed with what she is putting in her mouth and end up with some kind of eating disorder!”

Mmmm okay then. I listened to this new fear of Ben’s and then rudely interrupted and suggested that all he had to do was imagine his daughter having an eating disorder and to feel his grief about this so he could let go of this fear too.

Recently a friend said to me, “Kathy you seriously trigger me when you say ‘all you have to do is let that fear go’ – because it isn’t ‘easy’.”

I totally agree! It isn’t easy to let a fear go because it means we have to grieve an imaginary loss. Why would we grieve something that hasn’t happened? Because we already have the feelings inside us – they were caused by fear in our imagination (our subconscious doesn’t know the difference between reality and imagination). When we voice our fears and let our feelings come out of our physical body they are no longer triggered by our kids and they no longer attract the very thing we are fearful of (the ‘law of attraction’).

Imagining our fears for our kids coming true, like them: getting hurt, becoming drug addicts, saying we were hopeless parents, not being able to learn because of their behaviour, developing an eating disorder etc., is not something we want to do but if it is going to prevent it happening isn’t it worth it?

Okay back to the eating disorder conversation… coincidently (or not) I had a conversation with a friend this week about her 25 year-old daughter, who was recently hospitalised for a heart condition caused by anorexia and bulimia. (She could have died!)

Can my friend help her daughter by imagining her dying and grieving her death? Yes, of course she can. But will this heal her daughter’s condition? No it won’t. We can’t be blamed for the way our kids ultimately turn out because they have choice too. The older our kids get the more choice they have! Sure we may have contributed to their baggage (marriage break up, issues of our own we haven’t dealt with, etc.)… but once our kids understand how they work they are capable of letting their own baggage go.

Eating disorders are caused by Shady beliefs like, “I am not worthy of love. I am not important. I don’t belong. I don’t matter.” They are a ‘fake high’ to avoid the painful emotions associated with these beliefs. (A fake high is where we do something that may feel good but it is not good for us, like doing drugs, smoking, drinking, over eating and under eating). You may ask, “How can under eating possibly feel good?” Well it does because it makes you feel powerful and in total control of something in your life (something that most people can’t control!) A Shady thought that could go with an eating disorder would be, “If I can control my weight and stay skinny I am powerful, important and worthy of love.” And subconsciously, “If I put all my effort into managing my food all day everyday I can totally avoid all my painful baggage!”

If you have a child with an eating disorder it is important that you seek professional help from someone who is an expert in this field (because they are past the point of being able to hear Sparky’s loving and rational advice – all they can hear is Shady on replay – I am fat, I am fat! Their view is totally distorted!)

If you are like Ben and have a child who knows about Sparky and Shady before they have had an opportunity to develop an eating disorder, you can openly talk to them about your fears and their fears too.

Take a Pit Stop yourself first and then if they still seem to be sneaking junk food and binging (or starving themselves), support your child to take a Pit Stop too. Listen to all their fears about not being loved and important and then encourage them to ask Sparky for advice. Remember to ask your Sparky for advice too!

Hope that helps!

Love Kathy

PS Does anyone know a fantastic anorexia clinic in Australia or a specialist (in or near Coffs Harbour) that could help our beautiful 25 year-old friend?

4 Responses to How to help kids with eating disorders

  1. Jasmin April 1, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

    This is a resource up here in Lismore: http://cedd.org.au/ but the page also has some helpful links that may be of use, including online therapy, and a ‘search for a practitioner’ link with lots of practitioners not just medical 😉 including movement, body and art therapists.

    • Kathy April 2, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks angel Jasmin – I will pass this info on! Love ya!

  2. "Ben" April 2, 2016 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks Kathy.
    Letting go of your fears may not always be easier, but it’s SOOO much easier than holding onto them and bring them to fruition!

  3. Kathy April 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    Thanks Ben! Now everyone knows you are ‘real’!

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