Remember being a small child and eating your boogers off your finger (an unwashed finger, mind you)? Yeah, your kids probably have the same icky habits that you did as a child, too, because let’s face it: Children are gross. Everyone goes through it, including your children, but it is possible to nip their awful habits in the bud.
Here are the gross things that most kids do and how to make them stop:
1. Eating food off of the floor
Sure, it can help prevent having to call an exterminator when your child beats the pests to floor food, but this habit can expose your child to harmful microorganisms that might be on the floor. And trust us, even if you mop that floor every day, there is always going to be something on it that you don’t want to end up in your child’s tummy.
The best way to get your child to stop is to tell them no every time they reach for a fallen piece of food. No buts, no five-second rules. If it is something they want to eat, give them a replacement and tell them to be more careful next time. When they learn that it’s not appropriate to eat floor food, they will kick the habit themselves over time.
2. Picking their nose
Although your child won’t get sick if they eat their boogers, nose-picking is a gross habit that is best stopped as early as possible. Moreover, they can damage the lining of their nose if they pick too hard, leaving them susceptible to infections.
To curb your child’s habit of nose-picking, especially in inappropriate situations, hand them something to occupy their hands, like a toy or a plushie. If they have dirt in their nose that they want to remove, teach them to use a piece of tissue instead of their fingers.
3. Drinking unsafe water
As a parent, it is downright horrifying to see your child guzzling water from the bathtub or pool. Unfortunately, we aren’t fast enough to stop them from taking a few good gulps, usually followed by waiting for a tummy ache or diarrhea. In the worst cases, your child can end up with severe water-borne diseases like amoebiasis or typhoid fever.
When you see your child taking sips of water that they shouldn’t be drinking, stop them immediately, and explain why it is unsafe to drink that water. It also helps to keep them hydrated while swimming in the pool to prevent them from drinking the chlorinated water. And if they are drinking the bathwater out of boredom, occupy their attention by giving them bath toys or singing a song.
4. Biting their nails
Nail-biting poses a lot of health risks for your child. For one, it increases the spread of germs and pathogens from your child’s hands to their mouth, which can cause a sore throat at the very least. It also leads to the gradual erosion of teeth enamel, which can cause your child’s teeth to crack, chip, or move.
Once started, nail-biting can be hard to get rid of. Here are several ways you can kick the habit for good:
- Cut their nails regularly
- Always remind them to stop when they start to bite their nails
- Give them something to squeeze or touch when they feel anxious
- Explain why nail-biting is dangerous for their health and teeth
- Paint or put stickers on their nails to discourage nail-biting
- Try bite-averting solutions that your doctor recommends
5. Coughing or sneezing openly
Don’t want your child’s boogers to end up all over dinner? Teach them to cover their nose and mouth whenever they have to sneeze or cough. Otherwise, they might end up spreading droplets everywhere and sharing sickness with other people.
A great strategy to curb this habit is to remind them to use a tissue or the crook of their elbow whenever you see them about to sneeze or cough. It also helps if they see you do it, too. And when they remember to cover, reinforce the positive behavior by giving them plenty of praises.
These are just some things from a very long list of gross habits that kids have. If you don’t want your kids to carry these despicable behaviors past early childhood, it’s best to start getting rid of them as early as now.
What other gross things do your kids do (or you have done personally as a child)? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.