A blocked or runny nose can have a significant impact on your child’s speech, particularly children who already experience speech or language difficulties. They can become harder to understand, and make the whole situation of a child being unwell much more challenging. Sometimes a blocked nose can also be associated with ‘blocked ears’, making it difficult for your child to hear, as well as speak. Blowing the nose can help unblock the ears (temporarily), and improve hearing and communication in general.
But we all know that trying to get a toddler to blow their nose is not easy. It can be challenging to explain to a three year old (or sometimes a five year old) how to use a tissue or handkerchief to blow away all the muck that is blocking their nose, and making it harder for them to communicate.
To help with this common challenge, we have pulled together our top tips and tricks on how to teach your child to blow their nose.
Take Time to Teach
Just like any other skill, you need to teach your child how to blow their nose. They need the skill broken down into small steps. Practice the skill when they are well (not sick) at first as it’s a lot easier to do without a tissue!
Demonstrate Your Skill
Make a point of demonstrating what you do when you blow your nose. Show your child how you do it and explain why you’re doing it.
Get your child to practice blowing through their mouth first using bubbles, candles, cotton/tissue balls on the table. Some children will not be able to make a distinction and air may be blown from both their nose and mouth. Once the idea of blowing through the mouth is established, you can then move on to blowing through the nose.
Make it a Game
When it is a game, your child will more easily let go of the pressure to blow and just do it. Create games out of blowing. For example, you could blow small tissue balls across the kitchen table to score goals.
Remind your child to close their mouth when they blow through their nose. These reminders will soon become natural.
Have your child take a deep breath and clamp their teeth together. Hold a tissue in your fingers, about an inch from their face, and see if they can move it by blowing the air from their nose. Each time, move the tissue further away from their face. This teaches them to blow with more and more force, keeping their mouth closed, which is the entire key – and the hardest concept for children to grasp.
Another game type activity that will help your child to develop the skills required for blowing their nose is the Foggy Mirror game. Ask your child to pinch one nostril closed and to blow air through their nose onto a mirror, and see how much fog they can make.
Superhero to the Rescue
Make up a superhero, maybe Super Snotter or The Green Goblin, whose super powers lie at the back of their nose. In order to blow away the bad guys inside their nose, they have to blow them out into the tissue.
A Pocket Friend
Encourage your child to have a tissue with them at all ties. Maybe in their pocket, and it can become their special pocket friend, ready to help them battle those pesky snotties. But you may need to remind them to put the tissue in the bin when it used. Also, check their pockets before washing. We all know how annoying it is to find small pieces of tissue all over the freshly cleaned washing!
Rewards for Success
While you may need to remind your child to blow their nose, rewarding them for a good job or doing it for themselves spontaneously, will build their confidence with the task.
When it comes to your child learning any new skill, remember children learn by play. Think playfully and creatively about how to teach this skill with your particular child in mind, and you will find you achieve a better result.