Day treatment centers prove to be highly effective for adolescents with an eating disorder, but day treatment programs for teens are most successful when parents are on board to encourage habits and behaviors at home that support recovery. To help your child be as successful as possible through their treatment, there are a handful of positive habits you can encourage at home for your child and the rest of the household.
Having a negative self-image is usually one of the underlying contributing factors to eating disorders, which is something day treatment programs strive to help an adolescent patient overcome. Encouraging good self-care regimens can help people with different eating disorders in a few ways, including
- Encourages a positive view of the body
- Encourages a deeper connection with the body’s overall health and wellness
- Encourages activities that improve mood and anxiety levels
There are multiple self-care regimens to implement for your teen at home if they are taking part in eating disorder day treatment programs. Self-care can be something extravagant, such as getting a massage or manicure, but self-care can also be simple little regimens that are encouraged every day, such as:
- Taking a walk in nature
- Meditating or doing yoga
- Doing something you enjoy like listening to music or swimming in a pool
By encouraging these activities or something similar, the things your child learns during the time spent at the day treatment center will be carried over into their time at home.
One of the biggest signs of an eating disorder is social withdrawal, according to NEDA’s Parent Toolkit. Social withdrawal happens because the teen spends a lot of time focusing on their behaviors, feels shameful about their behaviors or eating habits, or simply because they have a poor body image and do not want people to see them. Because of this, the main component in eating disorder treatment at a day treatment program for teens will be a focus on getting used to social interactions again through group therapies and activities. At home, the parent’s job is to carry over this guidance and also encourage social interaction.
Social interaction can come from a lot of different activities, and it is best to start small if a teen has previously almost completely withdrawn before starting day treatment for their disorder. For example, taking a teen to see a movie requires them to be around people, but they do not necessarily have to interact, so this could be a starter activity. A few other social activities to get your teen involved in outside of day treatment include things like:
- Taking part in community charity events
- Volunteering time at local churches or youth groups
- Signing up for a skills class at a local library or extension office
- Attending festivals or sports events with friends
There are numerous ways to get your teen interested again in interacting with the family and perhaps some of their peers from school or social circles.
Keeping a journal is highly beneficial to psychological help, and can be an integral part of following through with the efforts to help a teen understand their behaviors, triggers, and challenges with an eating disorder. If the day treatment center the teen visits does not already require journaling as part of their therapeutic process, this can be something you encourage your child to do at home.
A major part of life after recovery from an eating disorder is replacing disordered behavior and activity with positive alternatives. Whether that’s mindful movement like yoga, self-expression through art or journaling, or simple self-care like splurging for a massage instead of having a binge eating episode, each person can find a way to make a full recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, don’t wait. Reach out to your doctor or counselor and start on the journey to recovery today.