How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Heidi LPC Your Own Question
Heidi LPC
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 278
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
65628425
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Heidi LPC is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

my 4 year old grandson eats small pieces of towels.Is this

Resolved Question:

my 4 year old grandson eats small pieces of towels.Is this normal-is it a compulsion should I be concerned? This has been going on for at least several months. His parents are starting to punish him for this behavior- no treats, etc.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 4 years ago.

Heidi LPC :

Hi there! I am hoping to be of some assistance to you with your question...

Customer:

ok

Heidi LPC :

The research on kids eating non-food objects points to a variety of suggestions; considering his age, it may be good to have his iron levels checked to see if he has any vitamin imbalances in his body. The research also points to having him checked for any developmental delays, as children who continually put non-food objects in their mouths may be dealing with a developmental issue... and yet sometimes, it is an attention-getting behavior that is getting them attention and so they continue. Has he been checked by the pediatrician for any potential delays or imbalances?

Customer:

yes

Heidi LPC :

And if the results showed normal development and health, then it very well be an attention-getting behavior... does this sound possible?

Customer:

well he already gets lots of attention his mom is a stay at home mom and his dad is wonderful with the children and plays and reads to them quite a bit parents are wonderful

Heidi LPC :

What can sometimes happen is when a parent gives a big reaction to something a child does, it causes their brains to kind of "light up"... and to get this stimulation, they may continue. I have no doubt that your grandchild's parents are doing wonderful things as parents; and this doesn't point to any lack in parenting. What we give attention to is what we get more of; simply put, kids just like the reaction. It may be more effective for the parents to reward the child when he eats regular foods... reward in a big way... to light the brain up when the behavior is the correct type. Does this make any sense?

Customer:

yes

Heidi LPC :

Pica is the term for when humans eat non-food items to a serious degree, and usually it is accompanied by a developmental delay. But, since you have said his development is normal, I would go along the premise as I mentioned above. There is plenty of research on the web regarding pica, but again, if he is eating regular foods and is getting enough nutrition, I would guess that with a little behavior redirection and reinforcing the proper behaviors, you can get him back on track!! I hope this answer was somewhat helpful to you, and I wish you the best in getting your family past this little hiccup!!

Customer:

thank you will tell my daughter to praise and reward him when he eats normal food

Heidi LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

Related Mental Health Questions