Gay Uncle Brett Berk: It's allergy season, which means that I'm all schmutzig. The only relief seems to come at night when the contents of my nose cake up for the duration of my slumber. Once morning arises, this naturally brings up the issue of getting that stuff out of there. How does this connect to young children? Well, since they're constantly acquiring germs from other kids, they deal with Gunk-in-the-Trunk (as in Elephant's trunk) all the time. And while a tissue is great when they have a runny or stuffy nose, I believe that nothing trumps a finger for excavating the hard clumpy stuff. You know what I'm talking about. Nose Picking.
Now I believe in some level of propriety, so I don't want to eat dinner with a kid whose finger is permanently inserted in their nostril. But I think it's fine to let your kid dig around in their schnoz away from the prying eyes of the general public. (You can decide if this includes you or not.) Frankly, teaching them to self-pick is a hell of a lot less grody than having to go spelunking in there yourself. Just be sure to alert them as to where you believe nasal mining is acceptable, and where it isn't. And in the not-okay places, you can teach them to hide their activities behind what I like to call The Social Shroud (Kleenex).
Finally, if your kid is going to dive in unprotected, make sure their nails are clipped -- we don't need any more blood on our hands in this country -- and that they wash their mitts before and after; finger-to-nose contact is one of the top means by which colds are transmitted. (Allergies, sadly, are non-transferable.)
|Brett Berk, M.S. Ed. has worked with young children and their families for over 20 years--as a classroom teacher, preschool director, and research consultant--and is the author of "The Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting."|