When Your Child Needs Inpatient Eating Disorder Treatment

It is crucial that parents help young girls accept and participate in the critical care and inpatient eating disorder treatment they need. When patients are left to seek treatment on their own, they often will not follow through. They also do not see their eating behaviors as a problem, even in the face of obvious physical and emotional consequences.

Don’t Let the Disorder Make the Decisions

“You’re making a big deal out of nothing!”
“I don’t need to go away for treatment. I can get better on my own.”
“I promise I’ll eat if you don’t make me go.”

These are just a few of the responses you might hear when you tell your daughter she needs hospital-level care for her eating disorder. Most teens and pre-teens go to treatment in a state of denial. And, out of a sense of desperation brought on by their disorder, they may be very good at pulling the heartstrings that convince a parent to back down from sending them to treatment, or to remove them from treatment once they get there.

That’s why it is so important to stay strong when your child tries to tell you that she doesn’t haven’t a problem and can’t bear to be away. Trust your instincts. When your child begs you not to make her go, or to remove her from the care you know that she desperately needs, that’s the eating disorder talking, not her. Don’t let the eating disorder decide what’s best for your child.

If your child’s doctor, therapist, or outpatient treatment staff tell you that she needs partial hospitalization or inpatient treatment, it’s important to follow through. It means that they, as healthcare professionals, are very concerned about your child’s safety, and feel that she needs to be more closely monitored and receive a higher level of treatment to restore her weight and address any co-occurring health problems.

Sharing the Difficult News

How you approach the conversation with your child can have an important influence on her willingness to embrace her treatment plan and her perception of herself and her disorder. It’s perfectly normal for you to feel apprehensive about having the conversation. Here are just a few suggestions for helping to steer the conversation in a positive direction:

  1. Be honest and hopeful.
  2. Tell your child how much you love them and that this decision is being made by both parents and loved ones and is in her best interest.
  3. Validate your child’s feelings but do not get into a power struggle. Example: “I know this is tough for you, but there’s no other option,” and/or “We’ll give you some time to calm down. Then, we can talk more.”
  4. Express your complete confidence that she can and will get better.
  5. Express your trust in her treatment and team, and your intention to stay in contact with them and support her in every way you can.

It’s also okay for you to ask for help from your treatment team in discussing the decision with your child. It is important, that you, as a parent, are the one delivering the news, but your treatment professionals can provide you with extra support and assistance.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Family Too

As you are focusing on your child’s health and well-being, don’t forget about your own. This is also a trying time for you and your family. Make sure you gather up a support network made up of friends, family, and perhaps even a therapist or other mental health professional to help you work through your personal emotional struggles.

Our Eating Disorder Program Can Help

It also might be helpful to choose a treatment facility for your child that takes a family-focused approach to treatment. At The Meadows Ranch, families receive an extensive education on eating disorders, communication, and relationships. They also have the opportunity to do an experiential learning session with The Meadows Equine Therapy team and experience a full-day intensive “truth and love” session, where they and their loved one in recovery can share thoughts and feelings in a way they may not have been able to before.

For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to an Intake Coordinator at 866-390-5100 or contact us online.

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