February 2, 2013

Mommy Survival Tip: Stop your Kids from Picking their Noses...PLEASE!

Disclaimer: This post may gross you out a little bit! So, yesterday I was standing outside the dance studio chatting with another mom while we were waiting for our daughters in their dance class. This woman's 3 year old son, Who was standing with us, starts picking his boogers, I am a little taken aback when she stands by watching him, yet says nothing to him, but I keep the conversation going. Then, low and behold, this kid starts EATING is ginormous, slimy boogers and still she says nothing! She then chuckles and tells me this is his new thing now and apologizes to me, but still does nothing; doesn't try to stop him, doesn't hand him a tissue, doesn't tell him about germs, just keeps saying to me how gross it is and that he will eventually learn how disgusting it is and stop on his own (she hopes)...ummmmmm I don't even know what to say about this one!

What is even more interesting is that I posted this story on my personal Facebook page because long after I got home I was just baffled about the whole thing. I was shocked when this post started a little bit of controversy among some of my friends sort of implying that I was being judgemental or harsh towards the mother of this child. I am still trying to figure this out. We are smack in the middle of cold and flu season and even if it doesn't gross this mother out that her child is standing in a very public place picking and eating his boogers, my opinion would be that whatever leftovers are now on his fingers are going to be transferred to whatever he touches and then the spread of germs has started. How am I being judgemental when I am just worried about the health of others?

Apparently, there are articles out there somewhere that advise parents that the way to handle nose picking is to ignore the behavior and not say anything to the child. Really??? I get the idea of not making a huge deal out of it because your child may do it more for the attention. But to not say anything?? That theory I do not understand at all. Is it not our duty as a parent to TEACH our children healthy habits and proper social behavior? Last I checked, as a mother and an educator, it is my job to help my own children as well as the students I work with how to take care of their health, and to me, picking your nose is not a healthy habit.

So, here is my two cents on the subject based on how I handle it with my children. If you have a nose picker (and I do, so this is from experience), in a very matter of fact tone tell them to stop the behavior. Don't act totally disgusted and make a huge deal out of it, because then that child will be looking for that reaction out of you. In your matter of fact tone, make it a teachable moment. Mention the germs that are on their fingers that could make them sick if they end up in their nose. Mention the germs that there are in their nose, that can be passed on to others. For heaven sake, teach them that if they have a booger in their nose that is bothering them, to ask you (or their teacher, or whatever adult they are with) for a tissue because that is where boogers and germs belong! In a tissue that can be thrown away! Not on your finger, not on the wall, and certainly not in your mouth. It may take a while for the behavior to stop, but be consistent and keep reminding them about the dangers of it. 

Ignoring the behavior is teaching the child that this is an acceptable behavior, and this is not an acceptable behavior, socially or otherwise. If we don't teach our children about these things from the very beginning, then the habit starts and it will be much more difficult to break as the child gets older. You will be better off being a teacher and not a friend in a situation like this. Just be consistent, not demeaning, not over dramatic, just consistent.

Call me judgemental, call me what you will. As a mother and an educator, it is hard for me to stand by and watch a teachable moment pass by. Especially when my children could be the ones to suffer the consequences by having touched something that other kid touched with his spreadable germs all over his fingers. Let's be smart about how we handle our children and teach them the lessons in health and manners that we were taught and the generations before us were taught. Let's help keep each other healthy this cold and flu season! And remember, kids do not innately know proper behaviors, it is your job to teach them.


  1. One of my kids would do it, she gets in a lot of trouble from me. :) i am your new follower from the blog hop! I would love if you follow back. http://olga-kidapproved.blogspot.com

  2. I agree with you Megan...Every once in a while I will catch Reagan (who is 2) with her finger going towards the nose and it grosses me out.
    So I try to make it a teaching moment and explain to her that she doesn't want to get sick.

    I know if I react badly she will just act out so I try to educate more than humiliate.

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  3. I just literally screamed sitting here in my living room! I'm sorry but eating boogers is disgusting and I'll be the first judgmental mom to matter-of-factly tell my child the gross germy reality of picking boogers. Thank you...

  4. On, I couldn't agree wi you more! I've seen this kind of unacceptable behavior more and more, and more and more parents doing nothing to stop it or teach the proper behavior. We definitely did not grow up like that. Why has this changed so much I wonder? Well when I have my babies I will be passing on the good manners I was taught, not going with whatever this new non-teaching way is... I'm sure some people will not be happy that I'm not a mom yet and I'm commenting on this. But I don't want to get sick! Lol, anyway, I'm a new follower of yours and am loving your blog!
    xoxo- Kaara

  5. haha... I can definitely relate to this! :)

  6. hmmm... I agree with you that nose-picking is gross. I think that most parents (including myself) would encourage the child not to do it, without making a big deal over it and not let the 'teachable moment' as you say, pass by.
    BUT I can see why your facebook post caught a bit of flack. As a mother, I try really hard not to judge others and in turn hope not to be judged myself. This really is the hardest job, and having each other's backs is one way to make it easier - respecting the choices of others.
    I accept that you are concerned that maybe your kids might get sick because of another child's behaviour - but really? mouths and hands are a whole lots germier than noses... I can't say that I would be stressing out because a kids has his finger up his nose, more likely he'll make my kids sick just from what is on his hands!!

  7. I agree! I am not a mom but I work with kiddos a lot and I have found that gently correcting their behavior helps them grow and mature. Just assuming they will figure it out will land them somewhere where they end up in an embarrassing situation (for themselves) when a kindergarten friend yells "EW GRROSS so-and-so is picking their nose!" Yes, that way helps them learn but is a little traumatic and the kid wonders why you never told them it was gross before to save them that embarrassment...

    anyways. I am a new follower :) nice to meet you!