I never imagined I would be writing this post, but I blog about life, and this is life my friends. I have two little boys and they are constantly picking their noses. Not only is it just a gross habit, but it’s mildly embarrassing when people come up to talk to your children and they are digging for gold (so to speak). We have tried redirecting, gentle reminders, etc. without luck. I scoured the web for tips and tricks to get them to stop but no advice I found was truly practical.
- “Kids usually pick their nose because it has something in it that doesn’t feel right.” (source) (Do people really need that explained to them?)
- ” just keep her hands busy” (source) (Clearly, she has already found a way to keep her hands busy.)
- “Hand them a tissue” (source) (Now they have a place to put the booger, but it does nothing to stop the actual nose picking.)
- “show her how to rub her fingertip around her nose rather than pick it.” (source) (I just have no words for this one.)
Being the researcher I am, I wanted to get to the bottom of this issue and I wanted some practical ways to make the picking stop. I found one study performed on 200 adolescents that revealed most adolescents admit to still picking their noses (an average of 4 times a day!). Oh you guys, I want so much more for my children than this and I know you do too! We have got to take action now.
Since I couldn’t find anything truly useful online, I decided to do some research and compile a list that will truly help! My husband and I have already noticed a huge reduction in this bad habit since we started implementing these ideas.
5 Practical Ways to Get Your Kids to Stop Picking Their Nose
Stop Clipping Their Fingernails – This is such a logical way to deal with the problem. If you stop clipping their fingernails, eventually they are not going to enjoy getting poked in their nasal passages, or their nails will grow so long they will start to curl and the finger will no loner fit in the nose.
Visual Reminders- So many of our children are visual learners and really benefit from visual cues. We purchased these stickers and placed them all over the house to remind our children not to pick. When we are out in public, I put a sticker on each of their hands and on my shirt. Then if they start to pick I just have to point to the sticker. I don’t even have to say anything. It’s great! I think it’s also a good reminder to everyone in public places that boogers are gross. I’ve had several adults tell me they appreciated the reminder, although I do get a couple of strange looks every time we go out. Those people must not have young children.
Other great visuals you can put around the house:
Nose outlet protectors. Whenever your child looks around the house and sees one of these, they will be reminded that they are not allowed to touch their nose, just as they are not allowed to touch an electric outlet.
A nose ring – literally! Putting this on your child’s finger would be a constant reminder to not touch his nose. Plus, it would poke him in the face if his finger did make it in the nose-wardly direction. You can get one here.
Physical barriers- Sometimes our children need a physical barricade to help them break the habit. Below are some excellent resources for physical barriers that will truly help train your child to keep the finger away from the nose.
Nasal screens – originally designed to filter the air you breathe, these are great barriers to nose picking!
We found these at the dollar store and couldn’t believe how effective they were. If your child already wears glasses, just detach the nose from the fake glasses and use a little bit of super glue to attach the nose to the real glasses.
If you have a compulsive picker who just won’t stop, you may want to invest in a pair of these. These are the best way, hands down, to stop any picking (no pun intended!). They may be cumbersome when going out in public, but the plus side is, your child won’t be touching everything on the shelves at the grocery store.
Make Them Eat the Boogers- I know this sounds like horrible parenting advice at first, but just hear me out. A logical consequence of picking your nose is getting a booger stuck on your finger. Right? Most kids will just rub it off on the nearest wall, couch cushion, article of clothing, etc. This is unacceptable.
Instead, simply tell your children that if they insist on picking their nose, then they will have to eat whatever comes out. Before you call child protective services on me, know that I would never have my children consume something that wasn’t good for their bodies. That’s just not commensurate with our real food lifestyle. While gross, boogers are perfectly safe to eat.
One scientist has this to say about consuming boogers: “By consuming those pathogens caught within the mucus, could that be a way to teach your immune system about what it’s surrounded with?” (From the article Picking Your Nose and Eating it May be Good For You.)
Another set of researchers discovered that a component found in our boogers is actually so antibacterial it would be a highly effective cleansing agent for medical devices. (source) So who knows, maybe you are actually doing them a favor by having them eat their boogers!
This is a simple psychological technique discovered by Pavlov. It’s called classical conditioning. If you blow a whistle and then slap your child’s hand away every time their finger goes up their nose, then eventually you will condition them to remove their hand every time they just hear the whistle. The bonus is that any time they are at a sports game, they will be reminded not to pick their nose for the whole event and you won’t even have to attend. But please don’t take this too far and use a bull horn – that would just be abuse. You can get the perfect conditioning whistle here.
But Don’t Take My Word For It
These are some of the things that worked for our family. I am happy to say that my children no longer pick their noses. But it wasn’t easy – it took a lot of perseverance. Also, some of these ideas may not work for your family. That’s OK. I asked around in my blogging network and here are some more excellent ideas from other bloggers I know and trust.
- “The best way to get your kids to stop picking their nose is to let them pick each others noses, or even your own. Not only are you teaching them to share, you’re also helping them build up their immune system.” Whitney from Beauty in the Mess
- “Encourage STEM curriculum by using the robotic booger picking technique- have your kids build it themselves and feature it in local science fairs.” Lee from Well Fed Family
- “We encouraged nose-picking at first for its various health benefits, but it became problematic when the kids were picking their noses during swim lessons. The instructors didn’t want the pool to become contaminated, so we began using swimming nose plugs. It was so effective that we took the nose plugs out of the pool. After 9 days of 24 hour nose plugs, we were nose-picking free!” Virginia from Virginia George
- “Let them read quality books about nose picking. Try to find living books; those with examples and real-life stories of nose-pickers. One of our favorites, The Story of Bradley Booger.” Danielle from More Than Four Walls
- “We tried everything for two long years with our chronic nose picker. We finally got desperate, and though we hated using GMO’s, we found taping bugle chips to his fingers was the most effective. Two weeks and the habit was broken. Eating them was not an issue as we had more successfully taught him about real food then we had been in teaching him to not pick his nose.” Debra from Worth Cooking
- “Nose picking has always been a huge issue over here. While my daughter had a deep understanding of the hygiene issues and germ issues associated with nose picking, she simply just loved the sensation of something being up her nose. I gave it some thought and realized that there was a simple solution. She has a strong bond with our house rabbit so I knew she would be game for an experimental run with my idea. I took two nostril size rabbit poops and stuck one up each of my daughter’s nostril – just far enough to plug the opening like a finger would! It was perfect! My daughter got to bond with our bunny in a new way and it kept her unsanitary finger out of her nose.” Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama
One More Thing
I hope this article was helpful for you and more practical than most of the other nose-picking articles you will find out there on the World Wide Web. Also,
Please do not take any of this advice. It’s all really horrible advice. If you have a nose picker, then that just means you are a parent.
Happy April Fool’s Day. 🙂