Does your child act totally out of character when he or she is worried about food? Have you been screamed at, or kicked? Have you had a plate of pasta tipped onto your lap in a restaurant? Has your child run away?
After a highly charged event when your child (and perhaps yourself) have been very reactive, you could choose to initiate dialogue. The idea is to:
- take care of yourself (because you're hurt)
- take care of your child (because he or she needs safety and understanding) and
- repair your relationship
You might also be looking for solutions or agreements so that whatever happened won’t happen again.
Eating disorders tend to make emotions run high. What can parents do after the fireworks?
My experience is that while the eating disorder is raging, this kind of conversation is near impossible. Our children are in such a state of turmoil that they simply don’t have the space to connect with themselves or with us. But once you’ve moved on from this stage, how can you talk with your child about her latest outburst?
It’s wise to prepare for this kind of conversation with some self-compassion, so that you can be really present to your child. Your body language might give a lot away if you’re still hurting, and your child may not be well enough to bear it.
In Chapter 14 of my book, I guide you through mending conversations. The aim is to nurture the relationship, and if necessary to work out how to prevent a recurrence of what happened.