Parent Coaching for an Eating Disorder

If your child has an eating disorder, then parent coaching can help you navigate their recovery.

Eating disorders are hard on families. They’re hard on the person who has them, and they’re hard on siblings and extended family. Moreover, eating disorders are really hard on parents.

An eating disorder can make parents feel as if they have failed (they haven’t). They may also feel as if the future is bleak and hopeless (it doesn’t have to be). In addition, you might feel angry, sad, irritated, furious, and hopeless. You may feel terrified, betrayed, persecuted, or manipulated. Whatever you feel right now, it’s normal. And it can get better.

Parent coaching can help you navigate your child’s eating disorder recovery. I can help you get the knowledge, support, and confidence you need to feel better.

Exercise: Take a minute to write down your feelings about your child’s eating disorder.

If your child has an eating disorder, you’re in a tough spot. On the one hand, your child’s behavior is terrifying and you desperately want it to stop. On the other hand, getting into power struggles over food can hurt your child’s eating disorder recovery.

So what can parents do if they have a child who has an eating disorder? Lots of things! But most of them are not intuitive or natural. Therefore, it helps to learn some new skills and try some new approaches to parenting.

Coaching can help

Parent coaching to help you navigate eating disorder recovery will make things easier for everyone. A therapist will dig deep into your child’s history and the meaning behind their eating disorder. They will help your child find recovery. But meanwhile, you are on the front line with your child every day. You need some immediate coaching to help you make decisions that can positively (or negatively) impact your child’s recovery.

It sounds daunting, but don’t worry! You can totally do this! Parent coaching when you’re dealing with an eating disorder gives you a safe space to share your greatest fears. And you’ll get practical tips and scripts for handling the challenges of recovery.

Parent coaching is a solution-oriented approach to eating disorder recovery.

With coaching you will have access to:

Information: Get answers to your questions about eating disorders. What are they? Why do they happen? How long will it take to recover?

Understanding: Decode your child’s behavior and learn how to interact with them. This way you can minimize stress and optimize your home for recovery.

Conflict Resolution: Learn how to resolve conflict with your child over eating and other struggles.

Responses: Get ideas and scripts for how you can talk to your child about food, weight, and eating disorders.

Techniques: Learn about the science-backed eating disorder treatment approaches Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating

Recommendations: Find the books, articles, and resources that are available to help you navigate recovery with your child.

Parent coaching can make an immediate impact on your ability to parent your child through eating disorder recovery. Most parents feel much more confident in just 2-5 sessions. Of course, we can continue working together beyond that. I can also stay “on call” and be available for you as needed.

Parent coaching can help your child recover

A lot of parents assume that if their child has an eating disorder, then it’s the child who needs treatment. And it’s definitely true that your child should be treated by qualified eating disorder specialists.

However, eating disorder specialists agree that treatment is most effective when the whole family, and especially the parents, get involved.

This is because eating disorders are biopsychosocial disorders. This breaks down to three components:

Bio (biological) There are biological components of eating disorders that may be addressed with medication.

Psycho (psychological) Eating disorders are psychological disturbances and are often treated with psychotherapy, counseling, and coaching.

Social: the social environment, beginning with the family, often shapes eating disorder development and recovery.

The third element, social, is where parents can impact recovery.

There was a time when parents were blamed completely for eating disorders. In fact, many parents were told to just “stay out of” eating disorder treatment. Parents recall horror stories of being told they had “done enough” already and should just stay away.

We now know that this approach is rarely effective. In fact, it’s best if parents are involved in treatment and recovery. The key, however, is to learn how to be involved appropriately.

Appropriate involvement in eating disorder recovery

Most parents spend more time with their child during recovery than the child’s treatment team. So it makes sense that when parents know how to help it makes a huge impact.

But how does a parent know what is appropriate? There are so many moving parts to eating disorder recovery. You want your child to stop having an eating disorder, but what can you do?

For example, parents are involved in feeding and eating with the child. Should they talk about food? Insist on a clean plate? Cater to rigid dietary restrictions? Then there’s body talk. How can parents talk to kids about bodies without triggering them? This can be tricky. That’s why it helps to become educated about your child’s unique needs as well as eating disorders in general.

There is no single path to recovery, and there’s no single rule book for eating disorder recovery. But there is a lot that parents can learn about eating disorders and parenting to help. And that’s what parent coaching for eating disorder recovery is all about.

Ginny Jones is a Parent Coach who helps parents handle kids’ food and body issues. She has +15 years of coaching experience and is an expert in helping parents navigate eating disorders and other difficult parenting situations. Learn more