Eating Disorders

Tricolomania: the compulsive pulling out of one’s own hair is a common tic, as is chewing hair and biting one’s own fingernails.  This can result in stomach discomfort and lack of desire to eat.  This may occur in a large percentage of pupils during their school years but it should only be transitory in most cases. If it is prolonged their may be a need to investigate for further problems, e.g. Tourette’s Syndrome.

If a pupil does have an odd eating habit, e.g. picking pieces of fluff off the carpet and eating them, it is best not to tell them off or not to do it, but to explain that it is not good for their stomachs and it would be better to spit it into a hankie rather than swallow it.

Pica: the eating of non-food stuffs. This can be associated with development delay or nutrient deficiency. Keep an eye on what the pupil is eating and check whether he or she does it at home. Is he/she smaller than average? If you are concerned discuss it with parents and perhaps recommend a visit to the doctor.