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February 28, 2014

Don’t overreact to son’s annoying habit

(Continued)

NORMAN —

So, instead of getting all worked up every time he wiped snot on someone, you got worked up one out of four times he wiped snot on someone. (If you want to get fancy, psychologists would refer to it as “interpersonal snot wiping behavior”).

One out of four is enough to keep ISWB going. One out of 10 will do it, in fact. Whenever parents tell me they’ve ignored something, I know they’re not telling the truth.

Let’s face it: This is not malicious behavior, nor does it constitute a real and present public health menace. His snot has not caused anyone to become ill, much less precipitated a worldwide epidemic. It has caused you consternation.

You think it’s disgusting, which is subjective. In all honesty, given my vast experience with toddler behavior, this is not serious. Furthermore, I seriously doubt that he will be smearing snot on people two years from now, and that timeline is pessimistic. One year is more like it.

One thing’s for sure: If you continue to swat, scream and run around like a headless chicken when ISWB occurs, it will continue to occur and probably get worse. Pin a handkerchief to his clothing so that it hangs in front of his shirt. Tell him that it’s for wiping snot from his nose and show him how to use it.

Then, when you see him picking his nose, say to him, “Where do you put stuff from your nose?” Help him understand the concept of using a handkerchief. And if he smears it on you anyway, then simply take his handkerchief and wipe it off, with dignity.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parent questions at parentguru.com.

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