Eating inedible objects (PICA) - The Play Doctors
Identify why the child is eating inedible items
Could it be:
Seeking sensory stimulation
Anxiety or stress relief
Reaction to an under stimulation
Getting out of doing something
Behaviour associated to an underlying
impairment or condition.
Younger children explore the world around them by using their senses, this often means picking things up and putting them in their mouths. As time goes on you would expect this behaviour to change. However, in some instances children continue. This may also be due to an underlying impairment or condition. Be reassured by the picture, it happens to the best of us!
Strategies and Responses
Respond quickly and use a consistent approach. Children may not know
exactly what is acceptable to eat or not. Teach the child when it is OK to put
things in your mouths for instance when sitting at the table at dinner time, but
not sitting at the table eating crayons.
Use clear communication to identify the
object the child is eating is used for other
purposes i.e. ‘(child’s name) crayons are
for colouring, take it out of your mouth’.
Provide safe sensory opportunities of a similar texture i.e. a carrot stick.
Consider activities that allow the child to use their other senses using textures
to encourage exploration through hands such as fur, fabrics, hard, soft.
Distract the child by using different sounds, ask the child to participate in other
Create an activity that allows the child to choose what is edible or inedible.
Use distraction techniques
Praise good behaviour