Sometimes when something goes wrong with our kids, we think that we need to clamp down our feelings and just get stuff done. And that might be necessary sometimes. But a big part of eating disorder recovery is learning to feel feelings. Your child is going to learn to process their feelings, and it will help if you learn, too.
🔎 ACTIVITY: Take a minute to think about how you feel about your child’s eating disorder. We often forget that there are many words we can use to describe how we feel. Most of us get stuck on the easy ones like “sad” or “mad.” But it helps to define the broad range of feelings you’re having. Take a minute to select which of the following negative feelings you’re having about your child’s behavior in this survey.
Print out your answers so that you can refer back to your feelings and process them!
You can use the Feelings Wheel to increase your emotional literacy. The more words we can use to describe our feelings, the better able we are to process them. Consider printing this wheel out and posting it somewhere like on your refrigerator so that everyone in your family sees them. The more you can correctly name your feelings, the more likely you are to actually feel them as they arise.
Name and feel your feelings
Most of us were raised to repress our feelings, but it turns out that there are some serious ramifications for suppressing feelings. It’s much better to name them and feel them. While it may feel overwhelming at first, the more you process your feelings in real-time, the less terrifying they are.
Articles about emotional literacy
I write about feeling feelings and building emotional literacy a lot on More-Love.org. Check out some articles that might be interesting for you:
Emotional repression can be considered the gateway to eating disorders. Parents who are interested in preventing and healing eating disorders can help their kids feel their feelings. Read more
If you have a child who has an eating disorder, then you are likely seriously overwhelmed and stressed out. The best way to deal with this is to accept that having a child who has an eating disorder is really, really hard. Read more
Many parents who have children who have eating disorders are surprised to discover that their child’s disorder is about emotions, not food. The underlying issue that needs to be addressed is their emotional wellbeing. Read more
If you want to learn more about how you can help your child recover, please reach out for parent coaching. I’d be glad to help!
Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.
She’s the editor of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.