Family Forum – Mum thinks bad habit is on the nose

A mother asks what strategies there are to stop children from picking their noses? Find out more in Family Forum…


My four-year-old daughter has a bad habit of picking her nose and eating it, especially when she has a cold. I keep telling her to stop because it’s yucky but she says it’s yummy. Can you suggest an alternative strategy that is likely to be more effective? I had hoped she would grow out of it but she is at kindy now and school next year.


Nose picking is rarely dangerous nor is it beneficial as has been claimed. Most people sniff back potential nasal discharge and then swallow it. More goes this way than discharges from blowing your nose.

It is however, distasteful to pick one’s nose in public in Australian culture. Herein lies the cure: Explain that her nose picking should always be done in private, as should a number of other habits, “Private activities in private places”. If you do this each time your daughter nose-picks, without any fuss from you, after a highly variable time she will confine it to her room.

Many parents and others offer a tissue for wiping or blowing the nose as an alternative to picking the nose. Pressure will also come from kindergarten staff, other parents and eventually peers, which helps stop the public performances.

It is worth noting some cultural differences here. In some countries it is a grave lack of manners to blow your nose. Many people sniff back nearly all they produce, with no detrimental effect.

Submit Your Questions

Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.