The other day I had a little patient and at some point, during the adjustment he picked his nose. In her embarrassment the Mum gently scolded him, and the little boy completely withdrew and lowered his head and eyes. As a fellow Mum I said, “It’s okay buddy, everyone picks their nose” and before I could finish my sentence she said, “No they don’t!’”
I smiled at her and because I knew her well enough, I bent down and eye balled the little guy and said, “Sometimes it’s more about knowing where and when, it’s okay to pick your nose.”
She looked at me with a smile and a nod that said, “I get it.”
Let’s be honest everyone picks their nose. We also burp, fart, scratch our bits, get constipated, get diarrhoea, vomit, masturbate, have sex – to shortlist just a few primal things we all do. It’s part of being a kid, growing up, being human. The thing is if we continue to shame and blame our kids for normal human habits, we may in fact be establishing a trajectory where our kids learn to feel embarrassed around us. If we make simple human behaviours wrong, then when big stuff happens in their life that they need help navigating, I’ll bet my last dollar they’ll seek answers from every source – other than us. And when they make mistakes they sure as heck won’t feel safe to come to us through fear of being judged and ridiculed.
I would teach my boys that if they feel the need to pick their noses then to do it in the bathroom or away from other people because at the end of the day, it’s still pretty gross. If they want to swear, do it away from adults or people who’ll find it offensive. We also talk about bowel habits because it’s a great way to gauge inner health and we discuss all of the above.
We can’t expect our kids to be transparent about alcohol, sex, drugs and other risky behaviours as teenagers’ folks if we don’t encourage an environment of safety. We don’t need to be our kids’ best friends just an empathic, unconditional, frank sounding board.
Keep the conversations light so you can always circle back and avoid your kids closing off to you.
We discuss the topic of masturbating in the Well Fed Kids App.