Dealing with toddler’s nose-picking habit
Preschool Milestones

Remember how red-faced you went when your little boy happily picked his nose in front of your friends at the dining table? More than embarrassment, you sweated that it was an eyesore for those dining! At the table or otherwise, a toddler’s nose-picking habit is unpleasant and must be nipped in the bud. Nervousness, anxiety, boredom, or a nasty allergy could be the causes for this nasal tendency. But, rather than nag him to give up the habit or mete out a punishment, which is unwarranted — given that he most likely doesn’t know what he’s doing — subtly and patiently get your tot to lose the habit.

Busy hands are happy

Watch your tot keenly and you’ll notice that at certain times — like while sitting in the car or listening to a story — he’s more likely to pick his nose. Identify these moments and set out to prematurely stop him subtly. Initiate games to occupy his hands and keep his fingers away from his nose. Finger puppets or thumb wrestling, where you both declare a thumbs war against each other, followed by your thumbs doing the wrestling, is a good option.

Say it with a tissue

How about playing it like it is in silent movies? Every time you see kiddo reaching for his nose, casually pass him a tissue to blow it. If he still continues picking his nose, tell him, “Blow your nose with this tissue”. Soon, he will get tired of you passing him the tissue every time he wants to pick his nose, and will automatically stop doing it.

Heal the nosebleed

If his nose-picking leads to bleeding, try those disposable foam things that go over the finger, which are available online. Their softness will prevent bleeding if your tot picks his nose. However, if the habit is one in a circus of nervous behaviours, i.e., thumb sucking, picking his nose until it bleeds, or trouble while sleeping, go ahead and consult his paediatrician. Or, if the nose bleed turns into a weekly event brought on by a strong allergy, take him to an ENT specialist, who is likely to suggest a nasal spray.

Let it go

“Ewww… stop digging your nose for gold”. Children are most likely to break the nose-picking habit when they get teased like this at school or may most likely just grow out of the habit. Meantime, continue handing him tissues and keeping his fingers occupied when his nose beckons.

Follow these tips, and your tot won’t be known as ‘the gold-picking baby’ anymore!

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