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Eating Disorders | 22 Ways to Prevent Anorexia Nervosa in Children

Updated on June 19, 2013

Anorexia Nervosa, the disorder that causes starvation, has begun effecting girls as young as 6 years old. Parents need to create a home environment that counteracts the strong negative cultural influences that lead children down the path of this life threatening disorder.

Anorexia Prevention begins at home! Please read through these invaluable tips.

1. Love your daughter every chance you get, hug her and tell her that you love her and that you are lucky to have her.

2. Build self-esteem and self compasion from day one by creating an environment of acceptance

3. Be careful how you criticize, separate the child from the criticism. Instead of saying “What is wrong with you?” you could say “I don’t like what you did and I know you can do better.”

4. Remember that a critical parent will chip away at a child’s self-esteem; it takes 100 compliments to correct one criticism, choose your words wisely.

5. Explain to your daughter that images of skinny flawless women are used to sell makeup, clothes and other products, but do not reflect reality. With photo editing and touch ups, even models don’t really look the way they do in photos.

6. Talk to your daughter about how these images can create problems for young women.

7. Tell your daughter that she is beautiful both inside and out.

8. Fathers should avoid making negative comments about their daughter’s appearance at all costs.

9. When talking about other people in front of your daughter, focus on the whole person, not the person’s appearance.

10. Avoid discussing the topic of dieting in front of your child.

11. Find activities for your child that don’t involve television or media.

12. Be careful about what television programs your daughter is watching and be aware of the influence of the ads that may be shown especially those related to dieting.

13. Think about ways that you can minimize media exposure.

14. Encourage your daughter to eat until she is full and sense when she is hungry.

15. Avoid discussing calories but rather focus on the healthful nature of food and exercise.

16. Talk about how food nurtures our bodies.

17. Avoid putting certain foods off limits but instead eat a balanced moderate diet.

18. Realize that the social pressure to conform is great, the constant barrage of media images seeps into our brains and stays there. Parents need to fight back and regain their loving positive influence.

19. Create a non-competitive family environment; this helps children maintain good self-esteem.

20. Stay in tune with your child, engage in conversations that reveal their state of mind and allow her to feel connected and valued.

21. Allow your child to make certain choices about her life such as with activities and clothing.

22. Be aware of the signs of Anorexia – Signs of Anorexia may include:

  • eating tiny portions or refusing to eat;
  • intense fear of being fat;
  • distorted body image;
  • strenuous exercising that lasts for more than an hour; hoarding and hiding food;
  • eating in secret;
  • disappearing after eating—often to the bathroom;
  • large changes in weight, both up and down;
  • social withdrawal;
  • depression irritability;
  • hiding weight loss by wearing bulky clothes;
  • 3 consecutively missed periods

If you suspect that your child may be anorexic, seek medical attention without delay.

© Copyright 2012, Tracy Lynn Conway, with all rights reserved.


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