Patented Q & A Database


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?


Sharon Silver Replied: Mom, Every parent deals with nose picking at some point. A 3 yr. old is entering the developmental stage of belligerence; he's attracted to doing things his parents said NO to in order to see what happens when he doesn't do as he was told. During the preschool years children learn more from what we do, than what we say. Instead of yelling and punishing to get him to stop, change the focus of your correction. Teach him picking your nose is not something you do in public—it's done in private and we don't eat it—we use tissue. Each time the child begins to pick his nose, instead of yelling-simply say, "Where are you supposed to do that? The child says, "In the bathroom." Mom continues, "Then you need to go there or do I need to take you?" Use a very calm, normal tone of voice. That tone of voice tells him this is the new way my parents will be correcting my nose picking and I'm no longer going to be able to get my parents attention this way. Another place to look for answers is in his daily life. Can you spot any stress in his life? Does he perceive his life as stressful at all? Nose picking is also called a Tensional Outlet. Children do things like that as a way to release tension, gross or not. Try increasing the amount of one-on-one time with you so fun and not so many corrections are part of his day. Good Luck.
Posted On 2007-11-12 18:25:52
Norman Hoffman, Ph.D. Replied: Although a disgusting habit, it is not too unusual for a toddler to be observed with this behavior. This habit is usually born out of curiosity. and because the nose, like other parts of the body, is there to discover. I would suggest that you first check with the child's pediatrician to determine if there is a medical reason for the child's behavior, i.e., nasal congestion. This habit may also be the result of early warning signs of an obsession compulsive disorder. However, it may be too early to make a firm determination. I would recommend that you begin with helping the child keep occupied with distractions during the times that he/she engages in this behavior. You may want to give the child a squeeze ball or small animal like squeeze toy to distract their attention from this activity. When you discover the times that your child engages in this activity, I would suggest that interpersonal games be utilized for further distractions. I would be very careful not to embarrass or scold your child during this phase. This will certainly occur when the child interacts with other children during preschool, KG or later. This behavior then would usually stop on its own. Rarely, does this behavior last beyond the toddler years. If it persists, you should consult a licensed professional counselor who is a child development specialist to determine if this condition rises to the level of a psychopathological personality disorder.
Posted On 2007-11-12 08:26:04
Press Esc to close