It’s unfortunate, but there will come a time in children’s lives when they will listen more to friends than their parents. It’s a normal phase in their lives that they feel the need to adhere to their peer’s culture or behavior to be fully accepted.
According to psychologists, one of the mental health disorders that stem from peer pressure is anorexia. You, as a parent, have the tools to stop this from happening. Along with the help of specialists in eating disorder treatment programs in Westport, you can help your kid win the battle against anorexia.
A combination of two factors
Teenagers are the most vulnerable to peer pressure. You were once a teenager, too, so you know how hard it could get to be accepted by peers. This is the reason a lot of kids would go to great lengths just to be part of the crowd.
What’s worse with teenage kids’ situation these days is that social media is a lot more accessible to them. So, they have a lot more access to negative reinforcement of what’s beautiful and what’s not.
Media has always been a huge factor in influencing people on what’s beautiful and what’s not. Granted, the media shouldn’t be burned at the stake for sharing its opinion on the aesthetic value of an individual. But seeing how impressionable teenagers are, it’s hard not to pin the blame.
On top of that, what the media is espousing is what teenagers are promoting in less than congenial ways. It’s no secret that every school has its cadre of bullies, and these individuals often ridicule people who don’t fit the kind of person that the media deems to be perfect.
This is why many teenagers who are not as physically fit as their peers are often targeted by bullies in their school. They then develop a low self-esteem, which they try to counter by developing an eating disorder such as anorexia.
It’s not as straightforward as that, however. Psychologists say that there are many factors that could contribute to a person developing anorexia nervosa.
What you can do
First, you need to confirm first if your child is indeed suffering from anorexia. Look out for the following signs.
- Obsession with diets and food intake
- Sudden changes in emotional state
- Distorted body image
- Denying to be hungry
- Exercising excessively
- Taking too long to eat
- Taking too many diet pills
- Drastic weight loss
In order to help your child, you should first ban negative self-talk in the household. No one should say, “I feel fat,” “I should never have eaten that last piece of custard pie,” or “I don’t think I’ll fit in this dress, I need to lose more weight.”
Then, be vocal about how you value your kid no matter what she looks like. Tell her that physical appearance should never be the sole basis for one’s self-worth.
Also, you should speak with your teen’s teachers and school principal to address the issue of bullying. Tell them to help your child against bullying and to penalize the aggressors. You can also ask your child to spend less time on social media.
Handling a child who is suffering from an eating disorder can be difficult. But as long as you keep your communication lines open and seek professional help, you’ll be able to pull your kid out of that debilitating condition.