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Now that's Gross! Teaching Good Manners

Have a child that picks his nose in public or farts at the dinner table? While this behavior may be horrifying, embarrassing, and even gross, it is actually a common way for kids to behave. This is especially true of kids in elementary school when they are just discovering all the things their bodies are capable of doing... and the reactions those little oddities get from adults.

Parenting Consistency Counts

Children that engage in gross behavior often do so because they are curious and think it's funny. It is normal for kids to try engaging in gross behavior at one point or another, but if it lingers long term, it can become an issue. Not only can gross behaviors be unsightly, they can be disruptive if done in school or while people are eating.

If you have a child that routinely engages in gross behavior, consider the following tips:

  • Discuss why engaging in gross behaviors in front of people is not polite and may be considered disgusting.
  • Whatever you do, don't laugh. One loud burp at the restaurant table that garners laughter will only fuel the desire to deliver more. If you really don't want it done, avoid reactions that will make your child want to do it again.
  • Create rules about where and when certain behavior should be handled such as teaching your child to excuse himself to the restroom to blow his nose or pass gas.  Good manners are important and learning them early will help.
  • Read and discuss books together that focus on teaching manners and how to handle gross behavior.
  • Focus on positive reinforcement by setting up a behavior chart that keeps track of each day your child goes without doing gross behavior. Once he makes it through a week without being gross, give him a reward.

Getting Past Gross

Some kids seem to engage in gross behaviors more than others. But, this may be because the behavior is more tolerated, or the child is modeling the behavior he sees. Parents need to be aware of their own manners and make an effort to avoid potentially gross behavior. Parents also need to make sure their children see good manners being used. With consistency in addressing the issue, children will move beyond gross behaviors.