Teaching children to blow their nose

It takes time and a lot of practice for children to learn the skill of nose blowing. Whānau need to be patient and find the best way to support. Giving lots of praise, making up games and keeping it fun helps.

Teaching children how to blow their nose in a way that is socially acceptable in Aotearoa New Zealand is pretty important.

Different practices

People from different cultures blow their noses in different ways. Some use handkerchiefs, some use tissues and some blow straight onto the ground. Some parents and whānau may use their own mouths to suck the mucus out of their children’s noses until they learn to blow their own nose – this technique is often used with younger babies.

Learning in stages

Whichever way whānau do it, children need help to learn how to blow their own nose. Taking it in stages and making it a playful experience can help greatly. Doing nose blowing with, rather than doing nose blowing to, children can make it easier.

Most children find it a difficult thing to learn and it takes lots of practice. Before they learn, most children will use their sleeves or somebody else’s. Whānau will need to be patient while their child is learning this skill. Give lots of positive feedback about the new skill they’re developing.

Having fun helps

Letting a child choose their own box of tissues and even naming it for them can encourage them to use the tissues, and heighten their awareness of when they need a tissue. Be gentle with any tissues, handkerchiefs and nose wipes. Little noses can be tender, especially when the child has a cold and their nose needs frequent wiping.

When they have a cold or a really runny nose, let them see themselves blow mucus from their nose in front of the mirror. Actually seeing the mucus come out shows them what’s in their nose that needs to come out. Show a positive reaction, not one of disgust, to encourage them.

Make up games involving inhaling and exhaling through their noses. For example, lay a feather, a piece of tissue or paper in their palm and see if they can blow it off using air from their nostrils. This can turn into a competition to see how high or far they can blow them.

Another opportunity to practise nose blowing is at bath time. Play a game of bubble blowing using air through their nose just under the water. See if they can blow bubbles while keeping their mouth closed.

Conversation ideas

How does your whānau blow their nose?
How well can your toddler blow their nose?
Do you need some hints about how to teach them to do this?

Sharing with whānau

Some of these videos might be helpful. If possible, watch these together with whānau and discuss how they might explain it to their child.

If they don’t have a way of accessing the videos, talk to them about the process. Look at the videos yourself and decide which one you want to use. Break the whole process into steps.

Helpful resources for whānau