My other child has become very withdrawn

This is a natural response to a sibling's anorexia and my younger son did exactly this. Siblings will probably notice at an early stage that their brother is not his usual self. They will probably have picked up that their mother is anxious and their father is cross. They may also feel that the anorexic son is getting more than his fair share of his parents' attention at the moment. Withdrawing to the bedroom is the easiest option in such a situation.

As with the first scenario, education and communication can help enormously. Obviously it depends on the age of the siblings as to how much you tell them about the illness and its effect on their brother. What is important is to make sure they feel involved and don't feel they are being pushed aside by their brother's illness. Children who feel they are not getting enough attention from their parents may start to have problems at school. They may not be able to concentrate and so their grades might start to suffer. They might start to misbehave either at home or at school in order to get more attention. They might start to comfort eat, or they might copy their brother's behaviour and cut down on food themselves.

It is well worth trying to spend some special time with your other children on their own, maybe a trip to the cinema or a shopping trip and a meal. You might like to ask them how they are feeling or explain your concerns about your son and see how they respond. It is important for the siblings to feel secure within the family. If you make them feeI included and explain what is happening they will be more relaxed. They may even have some useful insights as to what is going on in your anorexic son's mind at the moment.

If you feel your other children's schoolwork is being affected it is important to let an appropriate person at the school know why. The last thing you want is your other children becoming miserable because their teachers are putting pressure on them.

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