My son picks his nose and, yes, eats it. How can I get this to stop?

6 Answers 6


Work slowly towards getting him to not pick his nose or eat his pickings.

Try telling him that he may pick his nose as much as he wants, but it must be ONLY at home. Then ONLY at home and and he must throw his pickings in the garbage. Then, ONLY at home when there are no guests. Then, work towards restricting the rooms - e.g. ONLY bathroom and his bedroom.

If he picks his nose a lot and only at home is too strict to begin with, try something only at home and in the car. Add things like he must dispose his pickings in the tissue.

Just work slowly towards getting rid of the habit.


You have 3 options.

  • Explain to him, why he shouldn't do it. Try to keep it at a low level, but make him understand that it's like everybody is picking his nose.
  • You could simply say he's not allowed, with a consequence if he's caught doing it.
  • You could try to encourage him to stop, and let him get a price, if he doesn't pick his nose for several weeks. That should be enough to has his habit broken.

It's hard to say which of the 3 is most effective, it depends a lot on you and your son. At his age, I would myself go for the last one. Encouraging a behavior can be quite effective, and it wont be something you'll have to fight over if he's caught doing it.

  • How about all three ..
    – tomjedrz
    Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 6:28
  • 1
    could you please explain why he shouldn't do it?
    – Abe
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 7:41

If the picking is specifically related to the nostrils feeling dry + itchy, I would recommend trying to apply Aquaphor or other moisturizer.

It will both help the condition and make the idea of picking less appealing (getting sticky ointment on the picker's finger).

This simple emphasis has helped break cycles of picking -> nosebleed -> scabbing -> re-picking with my son.


It is indeed socially unacceptable to do that in public. I would just tell him that it feels really good to pick your nose and that he should enjoy it, but that it should be done out of sight

  • 1
    Germs are spread by dirty hands touching the face. If he has a cold, picks his nose, and then opens the fridge door, his cold germs are being spread.
    – nGinius
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:46
  • 6
    Yes and thus enhances his and his peers immune system. The germs are also spread by sneezing
    – user35
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:49
  • The medical debate is for another forum. Thanks for your feedback!
    – nGinius
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 17:06
  • 2
    Since you editing the question makes my response nonsensical I will delete. My point was that the health issue is not a good argument. I believe that you should always try to be as honest as possible
    – user35
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 17:17
  • 1
    @nGinius as with sneezing (and using the toilet) the key to reducing the spread of germs is washing hands
    – Abe
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 7:43

Easy technical solution:

Ask me later about effects on the long run, when he stops wearing them ;)


What worked with my daughter...

1) In no uncertain terms, I was very disgusted by the eating. Repeatedly and consistently. Nothing about the person, but the act itself.

2) Every chance I get, I offer her a nose picking to eat. Ask her why she won't eat everyone's nose pickings. If that seems gross then keep offering until that decision sticks and gets applied to her own pickings.

I'm not sure what I would have done if she accepted other's pickings.

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