The Norman Transcript


February 28, 2014

Don’t overreact to son’s annoying habit

NORMAN — Q: We are having a problem with our 32-month-old son. He picks his nose — most often in a public setting — and then proceeds to wipe it on other family members. It’s disgusting. We have tried ignoring his behavior and mildly smacking his hand away when he tries to wipe it on us. Neither approach is working. Do you have any suggestions?


A: Psychologists are not trained to deal with this sort of thing. That’s bad news, because I am a psychologist. Lucky for you, however, I am also a grandfather, and grandparents know how to handle stuff like this.

As I have said many times, most notably in my book “Making the ‘Terrible’ Twos Terrific!,” consequences do not work reliably with toddlers.

First, their attention span is simply too short. As such, they are not likely to remember what happened the last time they misbehaved in a certain way, so they do it again … and they get punished again, and they do it again, and so on. A toddler and a parent can go round this mulberry bush forever.

Second, their impulses rule. Impulse usually overrides the “Don’t do that” message.

Third, they seem to take perverse delight in doing things that people make a big deal over. You have obviously been making a big deal over him wiping snot on other people. You swat his hand away, you probably jump around and yell and run around looking for something to wipe it off with, all the while complaining in a loud, agitated voice. The fact that he can get an adult so worked up is just too much fun. So, he does it again.

No, ignoring this isn’t going to work. You didn’t ignore it, anyway. You simply reduced the number of times you paid attention to it in relation to the number of times it happened.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Senior organizations that appeal to conservatives

    Dear Savvy Senior, Can you recommend any advocacy organizations for seniors other than AARP? I cut up my AARP card a few years back when they supported Obamacare and am now looking for another organization that better represents me....

    July 29, 2014

  • Seniors adjust to different sleep patterns

    According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, sleep patterns change with age; this is often evident in the nursing home population. Frequent causes of interrupted sleep ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Ceremony marks opening of community center

    A July 23 ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the addition of another feature to the Chickasaw Nation Carter service campus in Ardmore....

    July 27, 2014

  • Chickasaw Cultural Center a terrific place to visit

    SULPHUR — The Chickasaw Cultural Center is a magnificent tribute to a proud people and their storied heritage. Located an easy hour’s drive south from Norman, it’s among the finest travel destinations in Oklahoma. Set on 109 scenic acres, ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Prisoner re-entry planning for offenders with mental illness

    People leaving incarceration face a variety of challenges even without a diagnosis of mental illness. But for those who face mental health issues, re-entry into society can be troublesome. That is the topic in the first of the 2014 Fall ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Exhibit takes families on food expedition

    If your palate enjoys culinary diversity or if you’re interested in introducing new flavors to your family, join the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in tasting international delights and create your own treat during Family ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Resident makes art in new home

    There’s an old saying about a picture being “worth a thousand words,” which took on a literal meaning recently....

    July 27, 2014

  • Parents should work on themselves first

    I absolutely love it when people begin to realize that the problems they’re having with a child are of their own making; when they begin to realize, in other words, that the child is not the problem — they are. All this time (however long ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Helping cat with first veterinarian visit

    Dear Dr. Fox: A stray kitty adopted me a couple months ago and has since been tamed enough that I have found a vet to neuter him and do some much-needed dental work. My fear is that the poor boy will be so traumatized by this ordeal that ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Veterans Corner needs volunteer to drive residents to OKC VA

    Veterans Corner volunteer of the week David Sudduth has been with us for the last eight years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served during the Vietnam War. David and his wife, Carolyn, have had their home in the Newalla area ...

    July 23, 2014