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Question

Lately, my 3-year-old son constantly picks his nose and then eats his buggers. It is so disgusting! How can we get him to stop?

Answer

Dr. Caron Goode Replied: My suggestion would be to provide him with kleenex or a handkerchief and teach him to use them. For a young child like your son, a behavior modification approach works well, and requires some initial vigilance on your part to praise and hug him when he has achieved the goal. 1. Explain and demonstrate how to use the tissue or hankerchief. 2. Ask him and find a non-verbal sign that you both like - a thumbs up, a raised palm of hand, whatever works as his signal to "STOP" when you catch him doing this and raise your hand. The purpose of the non-verbal signal is to provide a way for you to tell him to stop without constantly saying no, stop, and so forth because he hasn't yet developed the long term memory loop to remember that you do not like him doing it and therefore it must stop. 3. When you give the signal, he stops, uses the tissue, and puts it in a trash can. 4. Your role is to be demonstrative, hug him, tell him how great it was that he remembered. 4. Practice a few times as it if were a game. Ask him to do it, give the signal, run with him to get the tissue, praise him as he uses it and toss it together. If you can laugh and practice this game a few times, he'll get the idea, play with you, and the behavior will change out of his desire to please you, rather than because he can't remember at his age to not do it, and you have to nag. One mother tried this apprach to lip-picking with her four-year- old daughter, and was a a little upset because she felt it was like training her dog. I agreed with her. Our children's bodies develop habits, and we need to teach them social skills. To make it fun because you have a great imagination as well as determination makes it fun for your child also. Your son takes his cues from you; how you approach it will be the way he approaches it. And the mother who taught her daughter not to pick her lips was happy.
Posted On 2004-10-09 19:08:41
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