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How to prevent eating disorders in children?

A child suffering from an eating disorder goes through immense emotional and physical turmoil. Though eating disorders (like anorexia and bulimia) are generally seen in adolescent women, but the seeds are often sown in their childhood. Many cases of pre-teens suffering from eating disorders have also been reported. These disorders however, can be prevented, if steps are taken at the right time. A child’s mind is extremely impressionable and can therefore be molded easily. One may not be able to control the messages given through the media, but parents can certainly choose the way they want to condition their kids. Keeping the following points in mind will go a long way in ensuring that your children develop healthy eating habits and a positive body image:

• Be careful of what you say about your own body image in front of children. Children learn how to view their bodies from you as much they do from the media. If you often express dissatisfaction with your body, or talk about how fat you feel, you children will develop similar attitudes towards their own bodies.

• Always emphasize on good health instead of “ideal” weight in front of them. You could slip in messages about the importance of good health vs. less weight in a casual discussion

• A lot of people feel that appreciating their children would make them arrogant. The truth is appreciating your child makes him/her confident, though overdoing it can be harmful. Compliment them on their non-physical attributes and make sure that you are never critical about their physical features and bodies.

• Teach them the importance of appreciating virtues in other people. Tell them stories, show them movies which give a message of “beauty not being skin deep”

Clichéd as it may sound, a stitch in time does save nine! After all taking preventive measures in time is better than battling an eating disorder.