The All-Time Grossest Kids' Habits Explained

Does your child pick his nose? Eat food off the floor? Forget to wipe his butt? We know -- ew! -- but preschoolers are prone to icky behavior. Here are eight common bad habits -- and how to nip them in the bud.


What's the worst thing that can happen: Although it's disgusting to watch your child's finger go from nose to mouth, eating boogers won't make him sick. But picking his nose might: The mucous membranes lining your child's nostrils are a prime entry point for infections.

How to make it stop: Redirection is usually effective. "Give him a toy or a book -- anything to occupy his hands," says Michal Nissenbaum, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Developmental Disabilities Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center, in Kansas City. Explain to a preschooler that nose-picking spreads germs. Also carry tissues, and hand him one the instant he reaches for his nose.

Bonus tip: Reduce itching by keeping his nostrils moist. Dab them with petroleum jelly, or use saline drops several times a day. During the winter (or if you live in a dry climate), a cool-mist humidifier in his bedroom will prevent mucous membranes from drying out overnight.

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