Teaching Children Not to Pick Their Noses

by Heather Montgomery

Nose picking is a gross habit that almost every child will develop at some point. While your child having his finger constantly up his nose might gross you out, children often nose pick because of allergies, boredom, dehydration or simply general curiosity. Teaching your child not to pick his nose might be a battle that you will fight for a long time, but giving your child the right tools to handle his nose-picking habit will lessen the gross factor.

No Punishment

As with most nasty habits that children develop, using punishment as a means to stop the behavior results in shame and frustration on your child’s part, according to Kathleen Berchelmann in a ChildrensMD article. Instead of punishment, give your child the tools to tackle the nose-picking habit on her own. This includes having a frank discussion with your child about why nose picking might be harmful -- spreading germs, causing nosebleeds -- and why it is important to stop or limit the behavior.

Habit Breakers

Often, parents with children who are thumb suckers or nail bitters use habit-breaking aids to eliminate the habit. Consider putting bandages on your child’s fingers to make getting the finger up the nose more difficult. You might also create a secret word that you will say whenever you observe the nose-picking habit happening to remind your child he should not pick his nose.

Visit the Pediatrician

The nose picking might be because of an underlying medical issue, including allergies or dehydration. Have your pediatrician check your child’s nose for signs of irritation and allergies, and get a handle on those issues before addressing the nose-picking habit. Keep the nose area hydrated with saline drops or petroleum jelly to prevent hard mucus deposits from forming and tempting your child to use his fingers to remove the irritation.

Only In Private

If your child will just not kick the nose-picking habit, teach her that, if she needs to pick her nose, it is something that should only happen in private. Encourage her to only pick her nose in her bedroom, bathroom, or other private area and insist that she wash her hands before and after each nose picking session to limit the spread of germs. In fact, nose picking might even have some benefits, acting almost like a vaccine in the GI tract by introducing small amounts of pathogens that the nose secretions trap, according to ChildrensMD.

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