It’s normal for children to go through “fussy patches” about eating. Sometimes they may eat lots, on other days, barely anything. They may try diets or refuse to eat particular foods.
However, if your child is feeling under pressure, struggles to manage their emotions, or has low self-esteem, they may start to experience problems with food and eating. Eating disorders are usually a sign that your child has an underlying problem they need support with.
Signs your child may have an eating disorder:
- Sudden or dramatic change in weight or body shape
- Anxiety, depression, or mood swings
- Becoming withdrawn from friends and family
- Stunted growth and delayed puberty
- Making themselves be sick
- Worrying about being fat when you feel they are too thin
- Food seems to dominate their life
- Lying or becoming secretive about food and eating
- You have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right
If you’re concerned about your child’s eating habits and think they have a problem, it’s important to seek professional help. Visit your GP and discuss your worries so they can decide if your child needs to be referred on for specialist help.
Eating disorder help for parents: how to support your child
Many children deny they have any problem with food and struggle to accept they need help. They may try to keep it a secret, tell lies, or hide food. But it’s important not to dismiss or ignore any worries you have about your child’s eating. The earlier you get help, the more likely it is that they will get through this successfully.
Your child may find it difficult to talk with you about their problem. You could have a trusted adult in your family or a close friend they could speak to instead. Reach out to their school to ask for help, as your child may find it easier to talk to a teacher or school-based professional.
For more detailed advice, download the Young Mind’s guide to eating disorders to find out more eating disorder help for parents and children.