Monday, July 29, 2013

How do I teach my child to blow his/her nose?

This is a question we, as OT's, frequently are asked.  Children get runny or goopy noses a lot and rarely like having their noses wiped.  Parents and teachers get frustrated with the chasing and wiping routine and wonder "when does a child learn to blow their own nose?".  Blowing a nose is a rather abstract concept and difficult to teach.  You can tell a child over and over to "blow out your nose" and even demonstrate the concept repeatedly, but some children just don't get it.  So, how do we teach children to blow their noses?  First, blowing is a learned concept and needs to be taught to the child before we can work on blowing out the nose.  Try showing the child how to blow out of his/her mouth first.  Rip up small pieces of paper (great fine motor activity, as well) and have your child blow them off the table using his/her mouth, or even a straw.  Blow out birthday candles (with direct supervision) or get a pin wheel and have your child blow it.  Every time, use the word "blow" so that your child starts to associate the word with the action.
Once your child gets the concept of "blow", we can move on to blowing out the nose.  Play the blow the paper game again, but have your child clamp his/her teeth together to blow.  You can help keep his/her mouth closed with your finger or use some tape to keep his/her lips closed.  Tell your child to "blow out your nose".  It may take many attempts and several days/weeks before your child finally is able to get air to pass through his/her nose, so don't give up easily!  The end result will be worth the effort.  Remember to give lots of praise and even cheer your child's effort.

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