Why Do Kids Eat Glue? And What To Do About It

why do kids eat glue

If you’re wondering why do kids eat glue, especially young children, well, you’ve come to the right place. Children eat glue for several reasons. Let’s take a deeper look into these reasons;

Eating glue because of Pica 

Pica is a form of an eating disorder that makes someone want to eat and crave things that aren’t food. 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 anemia, 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 

When a child has Pica, they may regularly eat non-food things like glue, among other mentioned items. It can be unsafe because it may lead to serious health complications. 

If you notice your child eating glue along with other things like dirt, reach out to your health practitioner as soon as possible. There are different treatment options available that can help your child to stop eating it. 

why do kids eat glue

Attention seeking behavior 

Children usually know what they are and aren’t allowed to do. So when a child seeks attention, they may deliberately do something they know to be bad to get a reaction from an adult.

For instance, if a child is feeling neglected or anxious over the arrival of a new sibling, they may resort to eating glue to get the parent or caregiver to start fussing over them.

Kid’s generally don’t cope well with anxiety. While this may be an extreme form of attention-seeking behavior, it’s essential to get to the root cause of it before it escalates. 

What does eating glue mean

Curiosity can drive kids to eat glue 

Children are naturally curious about the world around them. They want to feel and experience everything. One way that young children often explore the world around them is through taste.

You may have noticed your little one bringing everything they touch or see up to the mouth to see how it tastes. 

So kids can eat glue out of genuine curiosity. They may want to see how it tastes or may have seen another kid do it and what to try it also. 

ALSO READ: What Does It Mean When a Baby Looks Through Their Legs?

Defiant behavior

Sometimes, a child may eat glue just because they’ve been told not to. Acting in defiance of authority may feel like the “cool” thing to do. Defiance may be linked to attention-seeking or other behavioral problems.

If you notice a child continuing to eat glue for no other apparent reason but defiance, you may need to contact a child psychologist or similar health clinician. This will help you get to the root cause of the defiance and get your child the help they need. 

Is eating glue dangerous? 

Eating glue can be harmless or dangerous depending on the type of glue and how much your child consumes. 

For instance, one of the most popular brands of glue, Elmer’s, makes their glue from an aqueous polyvinyl acetate emulsion, alcohol, and propylene glycol. In small quantities, eating Elmer’s glue won’t cause any harm. 

However, repeatedly eating a large amount of glue may lead to illnesses, stomach pains, and obstructions in the intestines, so it’s best to nip glue eating in the bud before it gets too far. 

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. 

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. 

Change your brand of glue 

Your child may be attracted to the brand of glue because of the glitters or bright colors.

So buying a different one that doesn’t look fancy or attractive may stop the child from eating it. 

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. 

why do people eat glue

Get to the root cause of the behavior

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

For instance, if their glue eating stems from a lack of attention, proactively seek ways to give your child attention even when you’re juggling work and other kids. 

Talk to the school teachers 

You may stop this behavior at home, but the child may continue to eat glue at school, especially if the problem is Pica-related. So work together with the teacher to limit access to glue.

For instance, the teacher may monitor your child whenever they need to use glue and take it away when they finish the project.  

Do glueless 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. 

Seek psychological help 

Most cases of kids eating glue tend to resolve themselves. Your child will usually outgrow the phase or stop once you explain the risks.

However, if the problem persists, you need to get help from a licensed and trained professional. The professional can help you get to the root cause of the problem and find the best solutions. 


Kids eat glue for several reasons like normal curiosity, attention-seeking, or defiant behavior. They may also even be driven by a condition called Pica which causes cravings for non-food items. 

Regardless of the reasons for eating glue, it can be dangerous if your child forms a habit. It can cause stomach pains or other serious illnesses if left unchecked. So try to nip any glue eating practices in the bud. If the problem persists, seek help from a trained professional quickly. 


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