Why Kids Eat Glue and The Solution

We can unanimously agree that children are prone to exploring new stimuli based on their senses for the initial six years of their lives. 

They rely heavily on their visual, tactile, gustatory, olfactory, and auditory senses to develop an understanding of the world around them. 

As a parent or an immediate caregiver, you may have witnessed your tiny toddler forming strange habits of touching, tasting, or even eating random objects. 

It can be quite perplexing to come up with different ways to break unhealthy habits your child may have formed as they are exposed to new materials and objects. 

Sand, chalk, dirt, and even glue, among many more, are some common objects parents may have witnessed their children eating. 

Let’s agree children eating glue during an arts or crafts class is a stereotypical event, but have you ever wondered why?

If you as a parent or an immediate caregiver have noticed your child eating glue, no need to panic. 

To answer the questions circling the health risks relating to eating glue, or why most children pass through the phase of eating glue, here is everything you should know about the “glue-eating” phenomenon. 

What is the main reason behind kids eating Glue?

Kids eat random objects like sand, chalk, rocks, fingernails, grass, dirt, clay, hair, and even paint chips.

There are a plethora of reasons why your child may want to indulge in eating such objects, and understanding these reasons is integral for changing the child’s habits. 

There is also an in depth article about why kids eat glue by Creating Compassionate Kids which you can refer to learn more.

Here is a list of the main reasons that may trigger your child to eat glue :

1. Curiosity:

Children during their initial stages of development are beginning to establish their understanding of the world.

This newfound understanding often manifests in the form of curiosity and involves active sensorial exploration. 

The unique, thick, sticky, or gloopy texture of the glue can intrigue the child, leading them to explore the taste of the object to develop a better understanding. 

Some brands of glues also assimilate different colors and even beautiful glitters that may further spark any child’s interest. 

2. Defiance:

Children even at a very young age experience a wide range of complex emotional changes that may lead to behavioral changes such as consuming glue. 

Defiance of rules or boundaries at a young age can be one of the reasons why your child chooses to eat glue. 

It can be the possibility of overusing the word “no” that may cause your child to defy your boundaries or rules and eat glue because they feel like it. 

3. Attention Seeking:

Another closely related reason for such defying behavior is attention-seeking behavior that can trigger the child to eat glue. 

This type of behavioral outburst is often prevalent in children with younger siblings who experience a lack of attention from their parents. 

Your child may begin to consume glue or any other object in order to get any form of reaction from you. 

4. Pica:

Lastly, another plausible reason behind your child consuming glue can be the disorder, Pica. 

Pica is a mental disorder that causes individuals to crave and consume objects that are considered to be inedible. 

It is natural for young and curious children to explore new things with their mouths and often try to eat random non-food items out of curiosity. 

However, children diagnosed with Pica often take the consumption of non-food or inedible items to a dangerous level. 

Here is a list of items that individuals with pica would commonly consume:

  • Hair
  • Paper
  • Fingernails
  • Paint chips
  • Dirt
  • Ice
  • Chalks
  • Crayons
  • Clay
  • Glue

What can cause Pica?

While there are several speculations revolving around the potential causes of Pica, the key reason that triggers Pica in children is stress and anxiety. 

Furthermore, children who grow up in impoverished and downtrodden areas, are more prone to developing Pica. 

Children who belong to abusive families or may have experienced emotional or physical trauma are prone to developing this disorder. Lastly, Pica in children can also be a result of mineral deficiencies or even malnourishment. 

Is Eating Glue Dangerous or Harmful?

The fact that whether or not consuming glue is harmful or not, completely depends on how much glue has been consumed and which company of glue was it. 

Brands like Elmer’s Glues or similar pastes are adhesives formulated with non-toxic ingredients. 

However, if consumed in large amounts, even a non-toxic formula can accumulate and stick inside the digestive tract and may cause intense stomach pain, intestinal infections, and bowel problems. 

But you should immediately contact a doctor if your child is consuming industrial-grade glue or superglue as they may cause serious health issues. 

How can you stop your child from eating glue?

Eating glue frequently can cause serious health issues and may also cause severe illnesses. If you as a parent or immediate caregiver want to stop your child from eating glue, follow the steps mentioned below:

1. Pay Attention:

If the root cause of your child consuming glue is a way of gaining your attention, then you may shower them with your full attention. 

It is important to praise your child for their accomplishments and listen to your child whenever they want to vent about their hopes or dreams. 

2. Vigilant Monitoring:

It is important to keep a vigilant eye on your child whenever they are partaking in arts and crafts activities. 

If your child has a severe or irrepressible habit of consuming glue then you should avoid leaving your child alone during arts or crafts projects.

To avoid any accidents or avoid your child from eating glue, you can also store the glue where the child cannot reach it. 

3. Switch the brand of your glue:

If you believe that the brand of glue you are using assimilates toxic ingredients you can switch to using Elmer’s Glue School Paste. 

Elmer’s Glue School Paste incorporates non-toxic ingredients that won’t cause severe health risks, but they may cause stomach pain if consumed in large quantities. 

4. Use tape as an alternative:

If your child has developed an irrepressible taste for paste, then you should definitely choose tape as a healthier alternative. 

You can give your child a roll of colorful or even patterned washi tape or duct tape to make art projects fun without using glue.