Dear Sue Ellen
My 2-year-old daughter eats paper. The other day I found her digging in the garbage and eating newspaper. She eats toilet paper, newspaper, paper towels and anything paper she can get her hands on. I scream at her and tell her to stop, but she won’t.
Children are eaters of strange things. When my daughter was two I discovered her eating dog food out of the pet bowl. I have been told by my older brother that I ate dirt when I was a toddler (with a spoon of course). A friend told me her little boy would eat bugs. I think grown-ups are eaters of strange things too. I watched a man eat a spider once. Kids eating paper isn’t that uncommon, especially in school. Ever hear of spit wads? I bet a few of them have been digested over the years. I was in my granddaughter’s second grade class to read a story one time and I watched in horror as a beautiful little girl daintily put her finger in her nose and…. you know the rest of the story.
You might want to ask a nurse or your daughter’s pediatrician about it to make sure it isn’t affecting her health. Will she grow out of it? Hopefully because when she is in middle school and kids see her eating her test paper with a bad grade on it, they will make fun of her
and even worse, you will never see the test.
How often do you scream at your toddler? There are times when screaming is necessary. If your daughter is about to chase a ball into oncoming traffic, you must get her to stop and it may include shouting at her. Screaming at children can be traumatic and put them at risk for emotional abuse. The words we use to communicate with our children matter. There has been a lot of research about child abuse. Emotional abuse is defined as using hateful, demeaning, unloving or critical words. People usually raise their voices when they are frustrated, afraid or angry. Are you screaming at your toddler because you are frustrated? I am not saying that you are guilty of emotionally abusing your child. I am just suggesting there might be a better way to guide her without screaming at her. Toddlers are impulsive and inquisitive. They are learning boundaries and need the loving support of parents to teach and redirect. If you feel that you are constantly having to punish your child, you may be the one out of control, and not your child. I am not shouting at you when I say this. I am lovingly trying to redirect your behavior. Shouting at a two-year-old for eating paper is probably too harsh.
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