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It’s What Kids Do

“What’s the difference between broccoli and boogers?” Carol asked. 

            Color.   One is yucky.  Well, some people think both are yucky. 

            Carol smiled and her eyes glistened.  “First graders don’t eat broccoli.” Having taught first grade for 25 years, my friend is an authority on six-year-olds.   

            Stop reading now if you don’t want to read about boogers and kids picking their noses and then sticking their fingers in their mouths.  For the past three winters, I’ve moved a post-it note with this topic from one year to the next.  Carol’s riddle prompted me that now is the time.

            Why write about such a topic?  It’s life.  It’s what kids do. Honestly, anyone around toddlers and young children see little fingers in little noses, and if you’re like me, you hope the fingers are wiped on shirts. If you know the children well, you say, “Don’t put your finger in your nose,” then hand out tissues or gently touch hands, not fingers, and move the hands away from faces.

             I’ve said, “Do you need a Kleenex?” Such a silly question.  By the time I ask, the finger has retrieved whatever was in the nose.  I’ve even explained that what’s in the nose isn’t clean, that nose hairs catch dirt and dust and bacteria and that boogers are dirty.  That satisfies my need to teach, but rarely does the kid respond as a learner.

            Nose picking is universal – about 120,000,000 results popped up when I googled why do kids pick their noses.   There were 260,000 results when for why kids eat boogers and 14,7000,00 sites are available to explain how to stop nose picking. 

            Kids usually stick their fingers in their noses because there is something uncomfortable inside their nasal passages and they want to get it out.  Very young children may be exploring their bodies, and for some kids, it’s a nervous habit, an unconscious habit.  

            Kids eat boogers because they are salty, unlike broccoli, and fingers slip so easily from noses to mouths, and again, it becomes a habit.   

            So, what’s the big problem?  In every country, a finger up a nose is taboo – it’s socially unacceptable everywhere.  From a health standpoint, when excess moisture or dry nasal mucus (a more clinical word than boogers) is removed, nasal passages are more receptable to bacteria which causes infection, and nose-picking can cause nosebleeds.

            Supposedly, the best way to stop this habit is to remind children to stop.  To explain the health aspects if the child is old enough to understand.  To keep tissues available and praise children when tissues are used. 

       While researching this topic, I discovered children’s books I’d like to read:  The Boy Who Picked His Nose, Maggie McNair Get Your Finger Out of There!, and  Fairytales Gone Wrong:  Don’t Pick Your Nose, Pinocciho!

            Now is a perfect time to drink hot chocolate and read one of these books to my first grade Grand.  He’ll use a tissue and I’ll insist he wash his hands before lunchtime and I won’t serve broccoli.   





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