Childline advice for parents worried about eating disorders

by My Kent Family reporter

The pressure to have the 'perfect' image, body or lifestyle can weigh heavily on today's young people.

Childline services manager Wendy Robinson offers some advice to parents:

Growing up we all had someone we idolised and wanted to be like. How many of us grew up in the 1990s asked their hair dresser for ‘The Rachel’?

Childline offers advice to parents on a variety of subjects
Childline offers advice to parents on a variety of subjects

It’s no different for young people today but with the advent of the internet, social media and air brushing it can be harder to escape images of people with the ‘perfect’ look, body or lifestyle. It can be hard not to compare yourself.

This is something we are seeing at Childline and young people are increasingly seeking help for eating disorders as a result.

In 2017/18, Childline carried out over 5,900 counselling sessions with young people on the subject – a 22 per cent rise on the year before.

Childline has offered thousands of counselling sessions relating to eating disorders
Childline has offered thousands of counselling sessions relating to eating disorders

Young people tell us that they feel under pressure to look a certain way and live a certain life, and it’s worrying that so many children contact us, in some cases when they are still at primary school.

One young person aged between 12 and 15 told us: “I hate the way that I look, I’m fat and thinking about my body makes me feel so worthless. I’ve started eating again but I’m making myself sick when nobody’s around.

Everything in my life is so out of control at the moment, food is the one thing that I feel like I can control, and I can punish myself by being sick when I don’t feel good enough.”

It’s crucial that all those struggling with such debilitating eating problems are given all the help they need to make a full recovery so that they can go on to enjoy their childhood and teenage years to the full.

Wendy Robinson
Wendy Robinson

If your child is experiencing issues with food or body image, you can help them by:

* Explaining that everyone is different and everyone has the right to be comfortable in their

own skin.

* Encouraging them to be honest – it’s hard to overcome problems on your own.

* Urging them to avoid negative websites and apps – instead trying reading things that make

them feel good about themselves.

* Getting them to write down their feelings – this can help them get a sense of what’s going.

* Be positive – get them to make a list of things they like about themselves.

There is also help and advice on the Childline website on a range of eating problems, and our counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0800 1111.

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