Why Your Child’s Eating Disorder is the Top Priority

Children are notorious for being picky eaters. However, if picky eating turns into an eating disorder, parents need to take action immediately. It’s easy for parents to miss the warning signs of eating disorders or dismiss the seriousness of the issue, but when it becomes apparent that there is in fact a problem, it’s of utmost importance to find an effective treatment program and support the child’s recovery journey.

Why is it so important to treat an eating disorder?

Children’s development centers around their education and socialization. If they are suffering the symptoms of eating disorders, their development may become interrupted. This impairment could lead to serious impacts outside of the immediate symptomatology of the mental health condition. It’s also important to treat eating disorders at a young age rather than waiting until the child is older. In fact, a systematic review found that people who were treated at a younger age for eating disorders showed a shorter duration of their untreated eating disorder (1).

Another study surveyed 425 individuals about the barriers to seeking treatment. The most common reasons were fear of losing control, fear of change, and difficulty finding motivation to change. This study highlighted that early intervention for individuals with eating disorders showed a larger decrease in eating disorder symptoms, again emphasizing the importance of eating disorder treatment (2).

Simply put, the earlier that an eating disorder is treated, the less of an impact that it has on a child’s life.

Parents often believe that it would be harmful to interrupt their child’s life for eating disorder treatment because they have “too much going on.” However, there’s a strong possibility that their child’s eating disorder could cause an even larger interruption at a later time. 

The best time to start eating disorder treatment, particularly for children and young people, is the moment that their eating behaviors become harmful. A 2021 study found that the average length of delay in accessing treatment for a cohort of individuals with eating disorders was 5.28 years. The main barrier to access described in this study was the stigma against having an eating disorder (3).

When parents put their children into eating disorder treatment, it sends the message that they deserve to be healthy no matter what. Without allowing shame to delay treatment, these parents can better support their children as they overcome the challenges of eating disorders and also be present for them when they finish their treatment program.

When looking for an effective eating disorder treatment program for your child, it’s important to find one that is a good fit. 

An ideal treatment program is one that utilizes evidence-based approaches and provides families with the reassurance of comfort and trust. The best treatment programs also include an element of family involvement, as family members serve as a strong source of support for those facing mental health challenges. Additionally, treatment programs need to ensure patient safety by having strong safety precautions and protocols. Bonus points if the treatment program also gets young people away from the dangers of technology and social media!

Hidden River is situated on a beautiful estate, including peaceful grounds, a well-stocked kitchen that hosts its culinary skills program, and a skills based emotion regulation clinical training program. Reach out to book a tour and learn why this program is an excellent choice for many children and young people with eating disorders. While there’s no good time for someone to develop an eating disorder, there is an ideal time to get treatment – and that’s right away.

Visit our website to learn more about eating disorder treatment at Hidden River. For a closer look at our grounds and living quarters, take a look at our gallery.

References

  1. Austin, A., Flynn, M., Richards, K., Hodsoll, J., Duarte, T.A., Robinson, P., Kelly, J., & Schmidt, U. (2020). Duration of untreated eating disorder and relationship to outcomes: A systematic review of the literature. European Eating Disorders Review, 29(3), 329-345.
  2. Scott Griffiths, S., Rossell, S.L., Mitchison, D., Murray, S.B., & Mond, J.M. (2018). Pathways into treatment for eating disorders: A quantitative examination of treatment barriers and treatment attitudes. Eating Disorders The Journal of and Prevention, 26(6), 556-574.
  3. Hamilton, A. et al. (2021). Understanding treatment delay: Perceived barriers preventing treatment-seeking for eating disorders. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 56(3).

Leave a Reply