Advice about Nose Picking
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
Advice about Nose Picking
Yuck!!! I'm trying to find a solution for this gross behavior.
My 4 year old has been doing this for over a year. I've tried
the talking it through method without any success and now I'm
turning to more drastic measures. Now I'm taking away some of
his toys for a few days but that isn't working either. Is this
something we just deal with and try to ignore until they figure
out that it's inappropriate behavior?
People don't die from eating their boogers. Peer pressure will
eventually stop the habit. Its not a battle I would personally
choose to fight. I am/was a picker. My dad used to threaten to
spank me if I picked. I did it anyway. Considering that he was a
picker too, I think it was a bad decision on his part. Let it go.
Your child will probably not go to college picking his/her nose
Have you never driven on the freeway? There are normal looking
adults who pick and eat too. I look forward to seeing the
responses, because it seems to me you have to just find a way to
deal with it. It's almost like asking a child to not fart.
I will probably sound more anal that usual but here goes..we
have very few ''picky rules'' :) in our home in general but
eating snot or anything that comes from a nose is not
accepted. Both my husband and I find it disgusting and all too
accepted among many parents. Since day one we have told our son
that it is nasty stuff, carries germs, and those ''monsters''
should be put into a tissue or some form of proper disposal. My
son is only three and is really good about it now and I realize
that the future could be a little different. I would just
really make it unacceptable behavior so you can stop it before
it turns into a bigger issue. I know there are many other more
serious issues out there but...booger eating is horrible to
watch and really a nasty habit.
not a ''booger collection'' fan
Well, it's gross to look at and it's not healthy either. Unfortunately
I've seen adults do this, too; apparently they got into the habit in
childhood and never got over it. I think they don't realize they
are doing it. Gross! I have to say it makes me think
a lot less of a grown-up when I observe this and I don't want
to be around them. I think I even have the same reaction
to kids who do this too, although I try to cut them more slack.
When I notice my kid rummaging around in his nose with a finger,
I say "Don't put your fingers in your nose! You're spreading germs!
Use this tissue!" And then I walk him into the
bathroom to wash his hands. I do it every time, and consistency does work.
It's the same for any other politeness/cleanliness issue. Just
I think the hand-washing reminds him that interrupting play time to wash
hands takes longer than interrupting playtime to get a tissue.
Make sure there are tissue boxes handy.
My son has a
friend who picks and eats, and I do the same thing to him when
he is at our house. To an
adult I would say "Here, let me get you a tissue!" or not say
anything and just hand them a tissue.
My 3.5 year old has a nasty habit of picking her nose and if
that wasn't enough... half the time she eats them [gross!]. We
have tried telling her to stop and we've now switched to just
saying ''put your hands on your tummy'' and that seems to be a
good enough temporary distraction. But now that's she is in
preschool we aren't there to discourage the behavior. I feel
like I should be replacing the behavior with something we would
want her to do, but I'm at a loss. I'd love to hear some advice
Grossed out Mom
My son is prone to this too. My sense is that it's just the latest in
disgusting kid things that we'll have to work through. Chances are they'll
outgrow this phase. And no, you won't be around at preschool to
suggest alternative things to do with her hands, but the other kids will be
there, and peer pressure can be a good thing, sometimes.
You'll probably get a lot of replies along the lines of, ''If you
make a big deal of it, it will only get worse.'' I agree, but I
also know how hard it is not to make a big deal of it when it
bothers you so much. We've done a couple of things with my
daughter that worked. First, we gently move her hand from her
nose when we see her picking, and offer her a tissue, without
saying anything about it (we also have tissue boxes EVERYWHERE).
Second, we do talk at other times about the fact that nose
picking is impolite: a lot of people (including us) don't want
to see it, so if she wants to do it in private, that's one thing,
but she should try not to do it in public. And perhaps the
biggest thing is that we promised her a manicure at a nail salon
if she could stop putting her fingers in her nose (which would,
of course, rub the polish off)! That was an idea we borrowed
from someone else and it was the one that really worked. She
does revert to nose picking sometimes, but I've been amazed at
her willpower for the most part.
One final note that is pretty funny: my sister recently sent me
a newspaper article citing evidence that the bacteria in nasal
mucous are actually beneficial for the immune system -- so
picking and eating may have health benefits! :)
My now 11-year old daughter is the most refined adolescent on the
planet. Immaculate, well-coiffed, scrubbed, etc.
Once-upon-a-time, she was a nose picker/boogar eater. We made a
few feeble condemning comments and left it alone. Would she
qualify for debutantehood? Would she meet and marry a nice boy?
Would we be kicked out of the social register? She outgrew the
icky habit and now marvels that she ever did such a thing. There
are a lot worse, more destructive habits, certainly.
Didn't get it from my side
I'd like advise on how to keep my 2 yr-old son's nose moisturized
enough so he doesn't resort to nose-picking. He is not a habitual
nose-picker. My son's cousin was a habitual nose-picker and so
was his dad when he was a child. I would like to avoid this. I
notice that he starts to pick his nose when it's irritating him
(Dry stuff inside). He has developed a dislike for me trying to
clean it cause it probably hurts. Is there something out there I
can moisturise his nostrils with so it doesn't cause such discomfort?
Try a plain (non-medicated) saline solution such as ''Little
Noses'' or the like. You can use it at drops or spray. It loosens
up and moisturizes the nasal passages. Great for when you're
stuffed up or feeling too dry (Like in an airplane or after
taking an allergy pill). I discoved it for my daughter when she
had a cold, now we each have our own bottle to use whenever needed.
You can put a light coat of vaseline in there, but not too much
or skin can get boggy leading to irritation.
My otherwise charming-in-every-way, 13-month-old
daughter has developed the habit of sticking her finger up
her nose. She often does this during meals (when her
hands are visiting her face), while we are reading books or
out in the stroller. Any advice on what, if anything, we should
do about this? If the timing is right I gently pull her finger out
of her nose and say something like, ''Honey don't stick your
finger up your nose.'' She doesn't seem to mind when I
remove the finger, but she keeps on doing it...
This is a recently evolved family secret that works wonders for
me. Yes, just around 13 or 14 months, my son discovered the
holes in his nose as well! But prior to that.....
My sister came for a visit and her daughter is two months
younger and when her daughter goes for something dirty, my
sister says, ''dirty bird!'' I liked that.
Well, when my son started sticking his fingers in his nose, I
started signing (b/c we use some sign language!) and
saying ''dirty bird!'' My son finds it funny and his fingers are
redirected away from his nose as he attempts the sign!!
Works like a charm..... try it, or find a sign that works for
Dirty = Hand on chin, palm down, fingers out, wiggle fingers.
Bird = Index finger and thumb together at lips. Open and close
like a bird's beak.
My son (now 17 months) did this for a while a couple of months
ago (and occasionally still does, but DEFINITELY not with the
regularity that he was doing it).
One thing we have noticed about dealing with behavior we don't
like in him is that he is always checking us out, to see what
we think of his behavior - and we've found that if we react
(whether we say ''Please don't do that'' or we laugh, or however
we react), he repeats the behavior. In fact, he now knows when
we don't like certain behaviors, and it delights him. He
repeats the behavior gleefully, testing us.
So with the finger-in-nose thing, we completely ignored it. We
didn't comment on it; we didn't move his hand; we didn't (tried
not to) laugh. He eventually got bored with it and has mostly
Hi, my 2 yr old girl has recently discovered that things come
out of her nose, and now can't help picking all the time, when
she's playing, meal time, and in the bath. I tried to tell her
not to do it, but seems like that gave her even more reason to
do so. Any suggestions?
My very gracious and graceful middle-schooler was a nose-picker,
boogar-eater, non-pareil, from 2ish to 7ish. Discouraging such
behavior does not help nor did the offered kleenexes. The good
news is that she outgrew such ''disgusting'' behavior and
beseeches me to tell no one; in fact, she is a very fastidious,
well-groomed child. I sometimes wonder when I see
adult-nosepicker-excavators, in a neighboring car in traffic, if
such adults were forbidden the childhood nosepicking behavior.
Nosepicking 101--It's only a phase.
Our beautiful 5 year old daughter unfortunately has started picking her
nose, rather frequently. Any suggestions to stop her? Incessant scolding is
not our approach and in limited quantities does nothing, and rubbing the
offending finger in garlic and/or onions also does not work, since she
generally loves such things.
As a parent of another nose-picking five year old, my tactic
is to gently and quietly ask her if she needs a tissue. I
don't think she is even aware that she picks her nose, and I
think that this is a non-insulting, non-embarrassing way to
make her more aware. Sometimes I just hand her a tissue
without saying anything, especially when there is company
I think a lot of adults (including me) still pick their
noses on occaision, so I guess it is something many of us
still need to work on. Maybe some of us have overly
sensitive schnozzles. I told my daughter that if she ever
sees me picking my nose she is welcome to ask me if I need a
tissue. Hasn't happened yet.
Member of NPA
this page was last updated: Oct 7, 2008
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network