Why Do Kids Eat Glue

The other day, I was at my sister’s house, and I saw that out of nowhere, my nephew starts eating glue. Apparently, he has been doing it for a while now.

It got me thinking, why do children eat glue? If you also have the same doubt, you are in the right place! Let’s dig in!

The main reasons why children eat glue

There are different reasons, why a child might be eating glue:

1) Curiosity:

The children discover the world around them through their senses, that’s why whenever they come across something interesting, they put it in their mouth to know what it tastes like.

Plus, let’s have a look at glue and its texture. The glue used in most of children activities is white and when you dip in with a stick, the glue spiral in and out of the tube in such a fascinating way. It starts looking a lot like a cheese stick. Then, why wouldn’t a child put it in his/her mouth?

2) Attention seeking

Another reason might be to get attention. Babies and toddlers love to be the center of attention. That’s why, they get jealous, when they get younger siblings and realise they have to share their attention.

To get attention, children are ready to do strange things, like eating glue for example.

3) Defiance

Very often, if you tell a small child “no” they’ll do exactly the thing that you told them not to do. Acting in defiance of authority may feel like the “cool” thing to do. Eating glue is their way of showing defiance, other than screaming on top of their lungs.  

4) Pica

No, it is not the sound Pikachu makes in Pokémon. Pica is an eating disorder that causes people to eat inedible things. A person with Pica may crave items such as glue, dirt, paper, or anything else they can get their hands on like:

  • Chalk
  • Crayons
  • Fingernails
  • Rocks
  • Sand
  • Grass
  • Hair
  • Clay
  • Plastic toys
  • Paint chips 

Some health practitioners say Pica may be a signal that points to malnutrition or anaemia, which the body is trying to self-correct. It can also be caused or aggravated by other conditions such as:

  • Mental health issues
  • Development challenges 
  • Stress

In that guess, getting advice from a professional medical practitioner is the best thing to do.

Is eating glue dangerous?

Well, it depends on whether the child simply tastes it or consumes it, and how much. Most glue-like Elmer’s or pastes with a similar formula are non-toxic.

However, consumed in large amounts, the ingredients in Elmer’s glue paste or sticks can cause stomach pains, bowel problems, and intestinal infections.

The real danger is in your child consuming industrial glues. Superglue or anything stronger than school glue can cause serious health problems. If your child consumes toxic glue don’t hesitate to contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

kid girl with glue

How to stop your child from eating glue

Glue eating can lead to severe illnesses, so here’s what you can do to try and stop it:

1) Give Your Child Attention

If you realize your child is doing for attention, give them full attention. Praise your child for accomplishments, let them talk to you about their hopes and dreams, and give them attention even when you aren’t feeling up to it.

2) Strict monitoring 

Keep an eye on your child when they do art and craft projects. If you notice a severe habit, try not to leave your child alone whenever they use glue. 

3) Change the glue brand

If you’re worried about your brand of glue being toxic, change to Elmer’s school paste. The ingredients are non-toxic, and while they might give your child a stomach-ache if consumed in large quantities, it’s generally safe.

4) Implement child discipline techniques

If your child is eating glue out of defiance it may be necessary to discipline them. Implement consequences such as if they are caught eating glue they will have to sit in time out, etc. sometimes a gentle reprimand helps a lot with getting children to stop certain behaviors.

5) Store your glue out of reach 

Keep your glue stored in a high place or locked area where your kids can’t reach it. That way, even if the child craves it, they won’t act on their cravings. 

6) Give your child tape instead of glue

If your child is a paste eater, it may be necessary to remove the glue entirely. Give your child tape instead of glue when they’re doing art projects.

7) Do glue less art 

Try implementing craft projects that don’t need glue. For instance, projects like origami can be a fun and exciting craft for toddlers without using any glue. 

8) Talk to the school teachers 

Make sure your child’s teacher knows if your child is eating glue and enlist their help in stopping the behavior. Many grade schools require glue, but if your child is a glue eater make sure their teacher is on board with curbing that habit.

9) Get to the root cause of the behavior

Try to determine what’s driving your child to eat glue and solve the root cause. 

10) Take your child to see a child psychologist

If your child continues to eat things that are not edible or if you notice underlying behaviors such as pica or OCD, take your child to see a child psychologist who can help them move past those behaviors and pinpoint the root issues.