“Tween” is the term used to describe the age of children who fall between childhood and adolescence. Once referred to as pre-adolescent, many pop culture and contemporary child healthcare services are, today, referring to this demographic of children as “tweens”. If you are the parent of a tween, it is important to understand the health risks specifically associated with this age group.
For many tweens, there is a risk for developing a mental health complication such as a condition involving an eating disorder. More specifically, this age group is at a particular risk for developing a complication with bulimia nervosa. In fact, nearly five percent of all tweens are believed to be engaged in some form of bulimia activity or eating complication. Because treatment plans are generally not designed to treat this age group, many parents are struggling to find solutions.
While cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to be successful for adults with bulimia nervosa complications, in tweens, the use of CBT may not be quite as successful. Instead, many child psychiatrists and eating disorder specialists recommend the use of family therapy. With family support and guidance, may tweens can recovery from bulimia nervosa without further health complication.
Because the maturity level of the tween population is quite complex, a full family therapy, one that involves every family member, may not be successful for this age group. Often, when multiple family members become involved in the treatment, the tween may feel the family is “ganging up” on them. Instead, in a family supportive program for bulimia, the eating disorder therapist may ask that your tween choose one family member to support and attend family therapy sessions with them. Often, this will be, at least, one parent but, in some cases, the tween may ask that a sibling attend.
For family therapy to be successful in the management of bulimia nervosa in a tween, it is important that every family member support and recognize the eating disorder exists and respect the tween’s choice of supportive family member. In addition, the person who has been selected to provide the supportive role must be one who is interested and willing to take this responsibility.
Eating disorders have long been considered a complication of adults. Today, both adults and children suffer from eating disorders and, in fact, these disorders can affect both males as well as females. In the case of tween development and the eating disorder known as bulimia, the use of family therapy may provide the best possible outcome especially when one particular family member provides that support and all other family members respect those boundaries in treatment.