Preschoolers And Pica: What You Need To Know


Getting your child ready for preschool can be a hair-raising experience, especially if they continue to show signs of pica. Pica is a disease that causes a psychological impulse to eat non-digestible items, such as hair, cigarette butts, and dirt. Understanding this condition can help you and your child's teacher deal with and treat this problem.

Understanding Pica Causes

Children with pica can't help it: it's a pathological condition that creates an impulse that can be impossible to fight. And while pica is most common in children with mental retardation, autism, or epilepsy, it is not limited to them.

Other common causes of pica in children include:

  • Low Levels of Zinc or Iron
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Emotional Deprivation
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Before sending your child to preschool, you need to discuss their pica with their teacher. Describe which items they are most often compelled to eat and create a plan of action for keeping those items out of their hands.

It's More Common Than You Think

While it can be despairing to fight against your preschooler's pica instincts, it's important to know that you are not alone. Studies estimate that between 10% and 32% of all children between the ages of one to six show persistent signs of pica.

In fact, these numbers might be even higher than that: many parents are too embarrassed about the problem with doctors or teachers. Don't be that parent. Your child needs a caring and nurturing environment to deal with pica. Keeping your preschool teacher out of the loop will make it more difficult to create that environment. In fact, actively engaging your preschool teacher in the process may help make treatment more efficient.

It Can Be Treated

Severe cases of pica, especially those caused by mental retardation and autism, are difficult to treat. However, behavior modification techniques have been shown to eliminate many of the symptoms of pica in preschoolers. These options include:

  • Discrimination Training
  • Mouth Protection Devices
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Aversion Training
  • Over-correction

Sometimes, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is enough to treat pica in children without severe mental or physical issues. However, some severe cases are treatable with atypical anti-psychotic drugs, like olanzapine, clozapine, and risperidone. Make sure to discuss the serious metabolic side effects of these drugs with your doctor before choosing this treatment method.

Once you've selected a pica treatment, immediately talk to your child's preschooler teacher. Discuss why you chose that treatment option and the ways it needs to be implemented every day. With persistence and the help of the teacher, you may be able to help your child learn to beat their pica impulses. For more information on how you can better communicate this problem with teachers, contact a school such as Sammamish Montessori School.


6 May 2015

Why Catholic Schools Can be Right for Non-Catholic Families

I am a mom and a former teacher, and I have chosen to send my children to a Catholic school even though we are not Catholic. My name is Laura, and I hope you will keep an open heart and mind as you discover the reasons for a Catholic education for children of any faith. My kids are getting an amazing education, and Catholic schools today do not cause non-Catholics to feel left out or lacking. If you are interested in a solid education for your children, consider a Catholic school. You may find that it is the perfect choice for your family.