I believe being an ARFID parent can be as hard on you as it is on your child. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with grandparents and in-laws. Of course people are well meaning, but the constant pressure to fix your child and the insinuation that you are not parenting properly or just coddling can be overwhelming. Forgive yourself. You are a great and loving parent who cares about your child. Only you know the reality of what you’ve been through.

Naturally, you’re probably concerned about your child’s health, socialization and whether they will grow out of this. Again, we don’t have studies or data. But we know many kids grow out of picky eating. We know teen ARFID sufferers can learn to expand their diets. We know there are no magic bullets. We know ARFIDers can grow up to have happy, fulfilled lives even if they are living with ARFID.

Yes socialization issues can be tough. It seems to get tougher as kids get older. My observation is that when kids are younger they aren’t as aware of people judging their eating issues. This changes though.

So when and how should you seek help? Obviously, seek a medical opinion as soon as you suspect there is an issue. My guess is if you are here, you’ve already done that. Maybe more than once. The hope is as ARFID becomes more well known and studied their will be a more concrete protocol for treating kids. For now there’s a lot of misunderstanding you have to wade through.

My thought is that if your child is healthy then getting bad treatment is worse than getting no treatment. The wrong treatment can reinforce negative associations with eating. It’s important to work with someone who understands ARFID and your situation. I’ve personally held off professional treatment for my daughter until I felt she was ready. Instead we’ve encouraged her, supported her, and worked with her at home. We’ve had some small successes. BTW, I am not making a blanket recommendation here. I know my daughter and our situation and believe it is/was the right choice for us. I was able to make that choice because of my own experience with ARFID.

Using the ARFID designation

Dealing with schools, doctors and other institutions can be challenging when they don’t understand ARFID. One potential solution is to educate them yourselves. One wonderful mom with an ARFID child has printed out ARFID information and given it to people so they can understand what her child is going through. This is a great idea IMO. I’ve always thought people who don’t understand our kids get frustrated not only with our kids but also with themselves for not being able to get our kids to eat. Giving them the understanding of ARFID can free them of their frustration and can help them to treat your child with kindness and understanding.



Stephanie Elliot

Feeding Project