A boy picks his nose.

Does your child pick their nose? If you are reading this article, then the answer is probably yes. Guess what? Nose picking in kids is incredibly normal and it doesn’t make your child weird. It’s a common behavior that often prompts concern, but is better approached with humor and understanding. In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about kids nose picking and how to help without shaming your child.

Why do kids pick their noses?

Nose picking might seem like a puzzling habit, but when we delve into the reasons behind the behavior, it’s easier to know how to address it in a helpful way.

Exploration and Curiosity

Kids are curious! They are constantly seeking to understand their bodies and the world around them. (This is a good thing) Nose picking often occurs because their inquisitive nature. While it may seem gross to us, young kids are fascinated by the textures and sensations inside their nasal passages. Understanding this curiosity-driven aspect can help us approach the behavior with more patience.

Self Comforting Habit

Just like thumb-sucking or holding a security blanket, nose picking might provide comfort and a sense of security to some children. During moments of stress, boredom, or even relaxation, they might turn to this habit as a coping mechanism. When we recognize this, we can help our kids find better ways of managing thier big emotions.

Dry or Itchy Nasal Passage

Children’s sensitive nasal passages are prone to dryness or irritation, which can lead to discomfort. Nose picking might offer temporary relief by addressing this physical discomfort. By acknowledging what is bothering our kids, we can explore ways to alleviate the root cause, like using saline nasal sprays or a humidifier in their room.


Allergic reactions, such as hay fever or sensitivities to environmental factors, can result in nasal congestion and discomfort. Children might instinctively resort to nose picking as a response to these issues. Understanding the role of allergies may be playing, means you may want to discuss solutions with your pediatrician.

Discomfort from Large Boogers

Yes, often children’s discomfort might arise from a particularly large or bothersome booger in their nose. Nose picking is just a natural attempt to alleviate this annoyance. Understanding this issue gives us an opportunity to teach our kids more hygienic ways to manage and dislodge uncomfortable boogers.

A child picks her nose.

Is Nose Picking Bad For Kids?

Nose picking is discouraged for several health and social reasons. It’s crucial to emphasize that our intention should not be to shame our children for their habits. Instead, we can gently guide them toward developing healthier strategies.

What’s the big deal about nose picking?

Germs and Infections

Kids are constantly touching everything they can get their hands on. These surfaces all carry germs and bacteria. When kids pick their noses, there’s a risk of introducing these germs into their nasal passages. This can increase the likelihood of infections, especially if they have any tiny cuts or irritations in the delicate nasal tissue.

Social Implications and Possible Embarrassment

While a toddler picking their nose may seem funny, as children grow and engage more with their peers, the habit of nose picking can lead to social discomfort. Other children might tease or mock them, causing embarrassment and potentially impacting their self-esteem. No one wants to be known at school as “the nose picker.”

Risk of Nasal Irritation and Bleeding

Frequent and aggressive nose picking can cause irritation and small injuries to the nasal passages. Fragile blood vessels in the nose can be easily damaged, leading to nosebleeds. These incidents can be scary for children, especially if they don’t understand the connection between their actions and the bleeding.

A little girl picks her nose.

How to Talk to Your Child About Nose Picking

Since nose picking can can cause problems, it’s important that we find a productive way to talk to our kids about it. Just yelling “don’t pick your nose” from across the room fails to teach them why they should stop and doesn’t offer solutions. Here’s how to initiate the conversation:

Choose a Comfortable and Private Setting

Find a quiet and comfortable space where you and your child can talk without distractions or interruptions. This setting allows your child to feel at ease and more likely to open up about their feelings and behaviors.

Use a Calm and Understanding Tone

Your tone of voice sets the tone for the conversation. Approach the topic with a calm and reassuring demeanor, showing that you’re interested in their perspective and well-being. Avoid any hint of frustration or disappointment, as this might make your child defensive or reluctant to share.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

For instance, you could ask, “I noticed you have been picking your nose recently, is there something that is bothering you?” This approach gives your child the freedom to express themselves without feeling judged.

Avoid Blame and Shame

Remember, the goal of this conversation is not to criticize or shame your child. Keep the focus on understanding their behavior and feelings. Avoid statements that may make them defensive, like “You are being disgusting” or “You’ll have no friends.” Instead, try to be supportive by listening to what your child has to say.

Explain why they should stop nose picking

Explain the reasons nose picking is not a great habit and how it can cause issues like nose bleeds and illnesses. Remind your child that nose picking in public is not considered to be polite.

Discuss solutions

Talk to your child about other things they can do instead of picking their nose. When you understand why they are nose picking, you can choose the solutions that will work best for their circumstance.

Kids using tissues to blow their noses.

Non-Shaming Ways to Get Your Child to Stop Picking Their Nose

Understand the Problem

  • Gently help your child recognize when they’re nose picking.
  • Encourage them to think about why they might be doing it.

Come up with alternatives to nose picking

  • Teach your child about using tissues or handkerchiefs.
  • Demonstrate how to blow their nose correctly.
  • Be proactive about helping younger children clear their noses

Address discomfort

  • If dry nasal passages are an issue for your child, help them use saline nasal sprays or place a humidifier in their room.
  • Visit your pediatrician if you are concerned about allergies.
  • If you have an anxious nose picker, talk about other strategies for calming nerves.

Positive reinforcement

  • Praise your child when they use tissues instead of picking their nose.
  • Thank them for coming to get you when they have nose discomfort.

Lead by example

  • Show your child that you handle nose discomfort in a healthy way.
  • Don’t pick your nose in front of your kids! (Yes, it had to be said)

Final Thoughts

Addressing your kids nose picking requires a compassionate approach that emphasizes open communication and understanding. By recognizing the potential reasons behind this behavior – from curiosity to discomfort – we can better guide our children towards healthier habits. Let’s stop shaming and embarrassing our kids over this common issue!

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