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Eating Issues in Elementary Aged Children
The William Alanson White Institute Clinical Services
Established in 1948
20 West 74th Street, NY, NY 10023
Questions? Please call: (212) 873-7070
Issues around disordered eating and eating disorders are encountered by many families. The Child & Family Center’s highly trained child mental health professionals can help children and their parents understand these issues and their severity better. These issues include:
Eating Problems Within Normal Development:
It is quite common for babies and very young children to have some issues around food and eating. These can range from certain foods that do not seem to agree with the child, to a young child’s “picky” eating and rejection of anything green or different from their usual preferences, to a child with little enjoyment or interest in eating and tends to remain small for his/her age. For many children under ages 7 or 8, these eating patterns may fall into a normal range, changing and lessening as the child matures.
Discussions with a therapist may help parents to better understand their child and find ways to promote their child’s development. A therapist will consult with your child’s pediatrician to evaluate and monitor the child’s growth.
Disordered eating includes a range of eating patterns that is of greater concern. It can both affect and reflect the health and well-being of a child. These eating behaviors can include the range of normal eating patterns described above; however, these same patterns reach a higher level of concern or persist well into pre-adolescence.
Contributing factors may include anxiety, stress, unhappiness, or low self-esteem. A therapist may help you, your family and your child understand and work with any underlying social or emotional issues that may contribute to these eating patterns.
Since every child is unique, your child’s pediatrician should also be consulted to evaluate your particular child’s medical situation.
Eating Disorders are a category of diagnoses that include anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, such as binge eating. These disorders involve a preoccupation with food, weight and body shape.
A preoccupation with food, fear of gaining weight, weight loss or a failure to gain normal amounts of weight in a growing, elementary age child as well as a distorted view of one’s body (seeing oneself as fat when, in reality, the child might be quite thin) are hallmarks of anorexia. There is a distortion of what is “normal” around weight, body shape and what constitutes a normal amount of food for a meal. Difficulty identifying and regulating feelings frequently accompanies difficulty regulating food intake.
Bulimia and binge eating are less common in elementary aged children. Loss of control over eating (binge eating) and binging combined with other behaviors such as vomiting, excessive exercise or dieting to prevent weight gain, together with overconcern about weight and shape, can be signs of bulimia.
Early intervention is important. If you have any concerns about your child in relation to these eating disorders, it is important to consult your child’s pediatrician to evaluate your child medically. Referral to a therapist is key, as a therapist can work with you, your family and your child, and be a valuable part of the treatment team. The Child & Family Center can refer you, and your child with an eating disorder, to a therapist specializing in treating eating disorders in elementary aged children.
Contact Us Today
The William Alanson White Institute established its award-winning, low-cost treatment center in 1948 to provide affordable psychotherapy and psychoanalysis to members of the community. Since that time, thousands of individuals and families have been served by our highly skilled clinicians. Download the Child & Family Center application or call (212) 873-7070 for more information.