My 4 year old is making himself throw up at daycare

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by My Dear Sons, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. My Dear Sons

    My Dear Sons New Member

    I'm new here, but I am really at a loss for how to handle this new development with my son. He just turned 4 last week and when I picked him up from daycare yesterday he had a new shirt on. I asked what happened and the teacher said, "Oh he went to the corner and put his fingers down his throat and made himself throw up... again." This was the first time I heard about it. I called his father (we are divorced) and he said they told him he had done it 2 weeks ago when he picked him up. Over the last few weeks he has casually said things like, "I think I'm gonna throw up" and "that makes me wanna throw up" but never actually thrown up or shown any signs of needing to throw up.

    I've googled some responses to this, and just to clarify here are a few things about my son:
    - he is not a picky eater. He loves to eat, loves vegetables, cleans his plate, eats very healthy and regularly.
    - he does not get sent home from daycare or get any special attention when he makes himself throw up. They don't take him to the office or the nurse, they just clean him up and change him if necessary
    - he really has no behavioral problems, he is well mannered, very bright, social, generous and sharing with other children
    - he has never thrown up when he was sick or seen anyone in our home throw up. I am assuming there have been kids in his class who have thrown up, but that is the only place I can think he has seen it. He has also never made himself throw up at school.
    - he is not worked up or upset when it happens, and he is intentionally putting his hand down his throat, so it is not just a internal gag reflex or a sensitivity to puking.

    Well, hopefully someone can shed some light on this for me. I want to be sure to address it appropriately with him. When I ask him why he did it or who showed him, he just nonchalantly says, "No one" or "I don't know." The teachers said he is the only one doing it, but he does do it in front of the other students and away from the teachers.
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I remember months ago a woman posting her child was having issues but it did get a ton of attention and the child was refusing foods. You are saying your child has good eating patterns??? does not have self imposed restrictions on types or colors of foods??? Does he like certain textures only or anything? Are there ANY odd coping things he does other than this?

    It may just be something he figured out by accident when something got stuck and he now sees he can make it happen. Hopefully just a phase, but if it increases or he is losing calories of course you may have to do more investigating. Some kids do have sensory difficulties and can't handle the food going down or being in their tummy and it can be a release.

    Just offering off the cuff ideas.....

    Do you know for sure he does not have any allergies or upset tummy from any foods? If it is mild he may not complain but just take care of it himself. Is he getting any molars or anything that would make him want to stick his fingers in his mouth to begin with???

    Things like that are the ultimate in control and so even though he does not have any other behavior issues, if it is purely behavioral, it may just be a thing he can do and who can stop him??? Kids just do strange stuff sometimes. I sure hope that is all it is, because if you have to get into any kind of power battle over something like that I can imagine it not going well. Even if you simply reward times he eats and does not do that... it could accidentally give it too much attention, but if this goes further with no physical cause, that is how I would start. By rewarding appropriate behavior. If possible, if the know that it happens immediately after snack or meal time, maybe that could be a great time to do immediate one on one story time or some other fun activity before he can even get a chance to go and start the process.... if they catch him while he is on the way to do it, they could accidentally chain he learns he can get their attention for going over to do that. So, that is why I say if they can predict the times he does it and then intervene, distract and not mention it but do something incompatible like his sitting on their laps and helping them with a game or building things or a story.... that may get him away from it.

    Ok, obviously I really do not know for sure, but wanted to offer some ideas and thoughts. Aren't kids fun?
  3. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Welcome! I have been thinking about it, and I'm not sure how to help you since there are no other behavior issues... V used (still does sometimes) to make himself vomit while in the middle of a tantrum. But it was always related with a tantrum. Now if he gets upset and I see he is trying to vomit, I look at him very firmly and say "don't you dare" and that usually stops it. But let's be honest, I don't control it: V does. Or too, if I see it happening, I walk him to his room and ask him to calm down (the tantrum does not stop right away but he has never vomited after being forced to move around).
    Like Buddy said: it is a fine line to walk between dealing with the issue and not giving it too much attention.
    Distracting him seemed like a good idea.
  4. apesfordana

    apesfordana New Member

    The woman buddy was referring to was me. My son was putting his hands down his throat to gag. I see the discussion link below if you want to take a look.

    We went rounds with my son - who, yes is a picky eater, but never displayed any such actions at home or anywhere but school. After trying lots and lots of things, making his lunch worked for a while. Until the day came that he threw up anyway even though he had his lunch. It was a day where the school was having a party - lots of parents around for a breakfast. He thought they were going to make him eat the breakfast & he was update we couldn't be there.

    He got caught each time he tried & each time it was too late. The school finally asked us to find another arrangement for him.

    Boy has that new arrangement been the best thing we've ever done for our boy. And now that the situation is over, he is very vocal about what the problems were. Yes, it was the food the school served. I make his lunch every day now. It's likely healthier than what the school serves anyway. But moreover, he just wasn't in sync with the environment there. The learning style was too much for him - it was a daycare run by a church, so they worked real hard to get the kids beyond the kindergarten curriculum standards... my son simply wasn't ready for that. He also really really hated his teacher. She talked down to him. She rushed him when we was eating, coloring, cleaning... anything.

    My son LOVES his new school. The new school is the early eduction center for the school district we live in. Full access to any kind of therapy we would need - which to my suprise his teachers say he isn't even close to needing. He keeps saying that he doesn't want to turn 5 cause he'll have to go to a new school. We didn't tell his new teacher a single detail about the old situation. We didn't want to set our boy up for failure by making the teachers too careful. If the cause was something else, I wanted to see if it came up on its own. NOPE.

    So I think in part, my son grew out of it. He matured enough to finally start hearing that what he was doing was wrong. He still talks all the time about not putting his fingers in his mouth. Calm & rational (for a 4 year old) worked I think. Repitition, support and a chance for him to feel safe with us helped. The change of environment played a bigger part. Maybe because it proved that we were listing to our son. Maybe because it just needed to happen - certainly because we had no other choice! lol

    So that's my story. So far it seems that there was nothing wrong with my son except that he found an extreme & very effective way to act out. And we listened. We changed what we decided we needed to change. My fear of course is that it could resurface in the fall with kindergarden. But our hopes are that a little more time will have helped him figure out how to deal with situations better.

    Your story may not be the same. My only advice is to give your son a chance to talk about it. The situation got worse any time we put our son in time out or grounded him. It got better when we started to listen & let him make decisions - what to bring for lunch. Four is quite the age. They can't articulate, but they certainly can feel very very strong emotions. My son never 'knew' why either. So over time, we talked about his feelings in general & not just the throwing up.

    I've got to run - but I do check this site frequently. Please feel free to share more or ask any questions. It's hard not to go straight to extreme answers for what is happening. It really may be much more simple.

    Good luck!