The following is written by Danielle Colley:

Romancing the nose: on getting your kid to stop picking his noseMy son, D Man, is a rhinotillexomaniac.

For those not down with the lingo, that’s fancy-schmancy medical speak for a chronic nose picker. What’s worse than him having a barely pronounceable condition, though, is the fact that my otherwise charming two-and-a-bit year old insists on the Pick and Lick. My son won’t stop picking his nose and it’s driving me to despair.

If I tell him it’s yucky, he laughs at me and jams his chubby little finger straight back in there. If I ignore the behaviour, it simply goes on approximately three times a minute. On a good day.

It would appear that children are innately drawn firstly to a) the orifice and b) the salty taste. Apparently, I ought to take comfort in the fact that 99.9% of children digitally mine their nasal cavity; however, it doesn’t make it any less of an anti-social pastime.

I put a shout out to my readers and I got one great response which was to give him tissues in a cool kiddy branded box and a reward when he gets to the bottom of them (no pulling them out just for the sake of it—purely for snotty purposes).

Perhaps, a designated “picking spot”—a picking corner—would be beneficial? We could set rules that you pick your nose there. Once you leave the picking corner you have to use the tissue box rather than pick.

I’ve heard of Band-Aids on fingers, hands dipped in vinegar, and enforcing hand washing every single time they touch their nose.

Or even a star chart, with rewards of stickers for every 10 minutes of not picking with a reward at 5 stars.

These seem like good strategies; however at two and four months The little guy doesn’t grasp the concept of a rewards system yet. The desire to plunge the depths of his proboscis is simply too strong, and all thoughts of stickers are pushed from his mind by the thought of the sticky goodness just awaiting his finger.

I have been driven to go to my dear friend, the World Wide Web, to seek solutions.

According to, no matter how embarrassed you are by nose picking, your best bet is just to ignore it. Chances are your two year old actually is completely unaware of what they’re doing, but they’re touching ‘up there’ because of a cold or dry nasal passage that is creating a discomfort or a sensation and that there is indeed something worth touching up there. You know yourself: sometimes you just need a good pick. It’s only due to social constraints in the Western World that we don’t do it openly, unlike our eager, shameless toddlers.

They then suggest that pressuring them to stop may trigger a power struggle. The more they realise that this behaviour gets to you, the more pleasure they’ll take in it.

Ahhhhh, yep…..I can verify this for a fact.

My research didn’t lead me any closer to a solution for my biggest problem….they didn’t saying anything about eating it. To the best of my nasal knowledge, boogers (not a technical term) are sticky so as to catch germs and dust and other foreign objects from entering the lungs. If they all collect into a sticky gem, then surely eating is fast tracking bacterial nastiness directly into your system.

Gross, right? I’m cringing as I write it.

Au contraire, dear readers. I found a guy who actually encourages eating salty nose oysters. Friedrich Bischinger, an Austrian doctor specialising in lungs, advocates using fingers to pick and ingest nasal mucus, stating that people who do so get “a natural boost to their immune system,” according to my old friend, Wikipedia.

It would appear that the biggest danger is grimey little fingers digging too deep and perforating the skin, potentially causing infection.

You know, I’m not convinced. Give me a multi-vitamin any day.

Ok, so medically, it’s not so bad, but socially? Oh yeah, you betcha, it’s uncool. It may be funny or gross when a two year old does it, but it’s just plain gross when a grown-up does it, and no one wants their baby to grow up to be that dude that picks his nose and eats it at the traffic lights.

The good news is, unlike nail biting, the habit of nose picking and munching is not carried into adulthood. Whether it’s something that you simply grow out of, or an incident occurs whereby you are thoroughly and publicly shamed and cease to do it, is unclear, but we can take comfort that by the time they’re going to school, they’ll probably have got the idea that although you can freely pick your nose, doing it in public is frowned upon, and eating it will not win you points with friends.

Do your kids pick their noses? How do you handle that situation?

Danielle is a mom,TV producer and a lover of food. Her blog, Keeping Up with the Holsbys, features many delicious recipes and amazing photos, as well as her thoughts on parenting her little guy.