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Why do kids eat boogers? How to stop this nasty behavior

Kids are adorable. Kids are beautiful. Yet, kids are gross. The things that your sweet child sneaks by you can also get pretty disgusting. One of the most cringe-worthy things kiddos do is eat their boogers. Every child does it. You may not remember it, but if you asked your parents, they’ll say they caught you a time or two trying your own nose boogs.

Why do kids eat boogers in the first place? Well, children are weird and will try anything if left unattended. You always encourage your child to try new things and the taste of their boogers is on that list. But if that doesn’t sound like something you want your child to do, then let us help you get your child’s nose-picking (and taste-testing) under control.

Why do kids eat boogers?

They see other kids doing it

Monkey see, monkey do. Kids will mimic anything they see around them. If they notice a sibling or classmate picking their nose and eating it, they will be more likely to try it themselves. They are curious and want to know why others are doing it.

They like the salty taste

Kids will pick boogers as long as kids have fingers and a nose. But what makes kids think eating their boogers is the best thing to do? Kids can’t resist that salty taste. While adults might grab a bag of chips when they want a salty snack, kids dig a little deeper.

They feel anxious

Your child could be feeling anxious about something. If you notice your child nervous in certain settings, they could be coping by picking their nose and eating the boogers. Most of us have a weird, nervous tick. This one is your child’s.

A little boy with his hand by his nose.

How you can help them stop it

Talk to them

A conversation needs to happen first. Ask them why they feel the need to pick their nose in the first place. Ask your child why they eat their boogers. Let your kiddo tell you why they got started so you both can figure out how to stop it.

Teach them why it’s not good to do

Dr. Koempel, a pediatric otolaryngologist states, “there are some potential health issues associated with nose-picking, mainly the potential for causing bloody noses and introducing bacteria into the nose.” Talk to them about diseases, germs, and bacteria. Let them know when they pick and then don’t wash their hands, they are spreading viruses around the house that can make the rest of the family sick.

Let them know about the physical downside

Not only will they spread their germs around, but the constant picking can cause painful sores in their nose. Tell your child about picking leading to sores which can lead to infection, which can be uncomfortable and painful.

Redirect the child’s nerves

You are going to have to find another way for your kid to release that anxious energy. Those bubble sensory toys are amazing. They keep little fingers busy and out of their nose. Sometimes all it takes is a little redirection of their energy.

What to do to curb their picking

To stop them from eating the boogers, you need to get them to stop picking in the first place. There are a few things to try when simply speaking to your child isn’t doing the trick.

Bandage up their finger

If you had chickenpox and couldn’t stop scratching, your hands were wrapped in oven mitts. The same concept applies here. Put bandages over the fingers your kid uses to pick.

Saline is your friend

Keep saline solution around. When you see your child go to dig, apply some in the nostril. Keep the nose wet to keep the buildup of mucus down so boogers don’t form.

Teach your kid to blow their nose

Another reason why your kid might be picking their nose is they just don’t like the feel of boogers in there. As adults, we know to grab a tissue and blow. But kids might not get that correlation, so help them out.

Always have tissues on hand

Make sure you always have tissues. In your bag, in the car, in your kid’s backpack, and in the house. You might have to sound like a parrot and repeat “blow your nose” over and over again but they should get the hint eventually and ask for a tissue on their own.

Make sure it’s not a nasal condition

If none of this works, or your child still is bothered by their nose, they could have an illness, allergy, or condition that is causing them to pick. You should talk to their pediatrician if nothing is working. Dr. Gellnar, a pediatric physician says, “if the nose-picking starts causing a lot of problems, such as nosebleeds or skin infections, talk to your pediatrician about things you can do.”

Whether it’s a nervous habit or something for your child to do because of boredom, nose picking is something every parent is going to have to deal with at some point. When they pick, they get curious and eat.

While the majority of kids give up and grow out of it, some kids develop a habit of saving their boogers for dessert. With our tips, your child will stop their probing so that they aren’t tempted to put that booger-filled finger in their mouth again. That will keep everyone’s appetite open for healthier options.

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