Any tips on getting a four-year-old to blow his nose
July 27, 2011 8:18 PM   Subscribe

How do you get a 4 year old to blow their nose

Guess its a pretty simple question - but one we are struggling with, so I'm hoping other parents out there might have some tips or tricks to help us.

Our son is almost 4 and can't, or won't, blow his nose.

He actually didn't quite grasp the concept originally - he breathed in through his nose rather than blowing out when we were trying to explain it to him.

About 2 months ago he did actually manage to get it right - he blew his nose on a few occasions across a number of days. Cue celebrations.

But he has since sopped doing so, saying he is not able to, or can't remember how to, do so.

We've tried all sorts of things to get him blowing his nose but to no avail. Thing is, his sinuses sometimes play up and any irritation is prolonged by not being able to blow his nose. And his nose then becomes blocked and he becomes uncomfortable.

So, any ideas?
posted by chris88 to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:20 PM on July 27, 2011

treats and praise for the times he tries, at least? even bigger treats and praise for the times he succeeds? i base this solely on my memory that as a child, i detested blowing my nose. and i knew it annoyed my parents to high heaven that i wouldn't do it. so if that's the case for him, something is necessary to make the dislike of blowing the nose worth it.

however, make sure he is not blowing too hard, too...that can also cause probs...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:22 PM on July 27, 2011

Tell him to close his mouth and then try to expel the air without opening his mouth. That is essentially what blowing one's nose is.

Obviously if his nose is too congested for this to quickly free up his nose so that he can breathe air in you need to make sure that he subsequently opens his mouth.
posted by dfriedman at 8:22 PM on July 27, 2011

Not a big deal. They'll figure it out. Our little girl blows her nose by herself now, and she's 4.5 yrs old. Our son "blows" his nose himself by wiping the kleenex across his face and back countless times; he's 2.5 yrs old. We usually take a wet wipe to his face after his diligent "blowing" and everything is fine.
posted by minx at 8:23 PM on July 27, 2011

I feel that bribes are not in order. Make a game of it, blow your own nose in front of him in a silly way that makes him laugh, then ask him to do it back. Gently cover his mouth if necessary just to assist/keep him from cheating.
posted by hermitosis at 8:31 PM on July 27, 2011

I was like your son. In fact, I had a super hard time blowing my nose until I was 7 or 8, I think. And even then I preferred just hornking my snot back in - blowing seemed silly, and not worth the effort. Our ENT basically told me that yeah, it's sort of hard to get used to, and yes, hornking the snot back in is actually a more natural thing for your body to do (I really appreciated that he explained it to me like an adult). I don't know if this is true or not, but just hearing Dr. Treyv validate my real problems with doing this seemingly easy thing was really helpful.

What finally did it for me was to remember that I shouldn't let air out of my mouth while blowing. I think someone suggested that I try covering my mouth while I blew, to create that seal - that helped quite a bit.
posted by rossination at 8:51 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Noise can help. When doing this with my son at that age, I usually inhaled loudly/wheezily through my mouth as I held the tissue to his nose, and waited for him to do the same. I probably made blowing-out-my-nose sounds for him to match, too. It didn't work all the time, and it's best not to be too pushy about it when it doesn't. I think it helped get the idea across, though.

(This is a little extreme I admit, but I also managed to teach him to use a neti pot.)
posted by spbmp at 9:37 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Whisper "nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn"
posted by no relation at 10:32 PM on July 27, 2011

I distinctly remember watching my grade 2 teacher blow her nose and realising that you can plug one side then the other. (This may not be the 'correct' way to blow noses, but whatever.) I'm sure my parents must have tried to show me but it was watching someone who I really looked up to which made the difference. I would have been about 7 at the time.
posted by titanium_geek at 11:39 PM on July 27, 2011

grar hit post too soon- of course I looked up to my parents, but I didn't really pay much attention to what they did, as it was 'normal', whereas it was something new and different watching my teacher blow her nose.
posted by titanium_geek at 11:40 PM on July 27, 2011

I fear blowing my nose, and I'm an adult. Help your kid realize that yes, your ears may pop, and yes, it might really hurt, but it's necessary and important, and maybe he wont fear it in the way I do. Plugging one side in favor of the other definitely works for me.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:51 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have children, but I remember what a challenge it was for a while there learning how to blow my nose. If your son really is forgetting how to do it (which seems plausible enough to me, from my memories of being four), just help him out for now by taking a tissue in your hand, pressing down gently on one of his nostrils, and telling him to close his mouth and breathe out, hardish. It can be sort of complicated to coordinate all the different actions, so maybe if he didn't have to worry about executing every element of the technique, he'd have an easier time acquiring it.

If he just doesn't like to blow his nose, well, it's his nose and his problem, unless the consequences are truly incapacitating. He'll do it as soon as it's worth it to him. Just keep offering your help if he seems to need it. Good luck!
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:10 AM on July 28, 2011

I taught my kids to blow their nose by asking them to pretend as if they were pounding on a table while say "hmmmm". I told them that the hand swinging makes the boogers come out; and the harder you swing, and the louder the "hmmm" is, the faster the boogers come out.

They had it pat within a week or so.

No real table was pounded during this exercise, only swinging the hands in air.
posted by hariya at 3:49 AM on July 28, 2011

You actually are supposed to only blow one side at a time, according to my ENT.

I personally find unwillingness/inability to nose-blow really annoying because it comes with sniffles, that gross sounding snot-swallowing, the mouth-breathing...sigh. However, it's probably best to leave it alone unless you really need to address it for a medical reason. Like pooping, he can pretty much continually refuse to do it forever and there's nothing you can do about it, so it's firmly in pointless power-struggle land.

If he's willing and really needs the snot clearance, see if you can use a nasal suction thing on him, like the nose freida.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:18 AM on July 28, 2011

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