Blowing our noses seems like such an easy task to an adult, but the whole concept can be quite difficult to master for the younger members of the family. While it may seem almost natural to us adults, it is actually an action that requires a whole lot of practice! I mean, think about it… The two main functions of our noses are to smell, an action which involves inhaling through the nose, and to help with the action of breathing. Both of these actions are natural, automatic responses of our bodies, and require air to flow in and out, back and forward through the nose, without much thought or effort from your child. Nose -blowing requires a whole other set of skills.
Fine motor skills required to master the art of ‘nose-blowing’
Nose-blowing requires a whole range of fine-motor components. These include
- Your child needs to exhibit sufficient hand-eye co-ordination.
- They need to have conquered pincer grasp and have a relatively good pinch grip strength.
- They need to have the ability to bring their hands together to the center of their bodies (ability to bring hands to midline).
- They need to have vision-obstructed motor control.
Additional Skills required for nose-blowing
Along with the fine motor components that are required, a child also needs to master a few other skills. These include
- Keeping their mouths closed while they blow out through their nose.
- Learn to breathe through one nostril at a time, while blowing out through the other one.
- Keep their balance.
So, now that we know what our little guys really have to tackle, lets see what there is that we can do to make the learning process as easy and painless as possible. Remember, there really is no point in trying to explain to your little one ‘how to’ blow their nose. You’re (both) just going to end up feeling frustrated. There might even be tears! Rather slow things down, try and turn it into a fun, new skill-building activity, rather than a chore. This way, you’re both more likely to stick with it.
After a lot of research, i’d say the first thing you need to focus on is teaching your child to blow air intentionally. The big difference between ‘breathing’ and ‘blowing’, is that blowing involves intention, while breathing happens automatically.
Step 1 – Learning to blow air through the mouth
Start by teaching your child how to blow air out of their mouths. Start by showing them how it’s done. Take their hand in yours, and gently blow on their finger tips or palm, and ask them if that tickles. This way, they will see that you’re not just making a shape with your mouth, but that there is actually something coming out of it too. Now, hold out your hand and let your little one give it a go. Lol! It might take a bit of practice!
This is a great opportunity to throw in a couple of super fun activities! You could try
- blowing bubbles (you can whip up your own today with this super easy DIY bubble wand and 3-ingredient bubble liquid ).
- pinwheels (we have a whole selection to choose from, or you can print a blank one, and let your little one color his own pinwheel .
- tie a balloon to a string, and have your little one blow on it to see how far they can make it move.
Step 2 – learning to blow air through the nose
Again, start off by demonstrating the action to your child. Take his little hand, and hold it just below your nose, then blow out gently. You can point out what you’re doing by asking him questions, like, ‘Did you feel that air?’. Also, you can block one nostril, and blow out using only one, then switch and blow out using only the other. This way your child will start becoming familiar with the concept that each nostril can function ‘independently of one-another’.
Now, get your child to try blowing out through his nose. At this stage, it is important to remind your child to keep his mouth closed. You may want to start with a race, or with a little ‘course’ for your child to complete, for example, such as blowing an extremely lightweight item from one side of the table to the other. Here are some fun ideas to get your child to practice blowing out their nose
- lay a feather on the table (two if you’re having a race), remind your child to close his mouth and see how far he can blow the feather. Another variation would be to see how long it takes to blow the feather from point A to point B.
- make ‘bath-time’ ‘blow-time’ too! Have your child put his nose just below the surface of the water and ask them to blow bubbles using only their nose.
- hold a mirror close up to your little one’s face, then ask them to pinch one nostril closed and to blow. They’ll be really surprised at the fog that appears!
Step 3 – Teach your child about the importance of blowing our noses and about germs
Explain to your child why we have to blow our noses. Explain to them what mucus is, even get a little gross about it! We all know, kids find these things funny, so they’re going to pay attention, and learn in the process! 🙂 Use pictures, or hold up a mirror to your little one’s nose, and let them take a peak inside. Teach your child about germs, how they spread, and the importance of washing hands etc, so that we don’t spread germs. A great way to do this is with a children’s book like Germs Make Me Sick! (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) (affiliate link*)By explaining to your child what germs do to our bodies, your child will learn to connect those runny noses with colds, allergies, etc., and will soon start understanding the importance of nose-blowing.
Step 4 – Practice blowing with a tissue
The most important thing to remember here, is to start with this step when your child is not sick! A sick child is not going to want to try anything new, let alone something that involves someone showing something new and strange in their face. Rather get your child used to the idea of having that tissue in their hands, and in their face when they’re feeling well, and when they’ve had some time to practice the games and activities mentioned above. When starting out with actual tissues, don’t be afraid to try a few different types, and be sure to speak to your child. Find out if they’re okay with the scent, and the texture. Some children may have sensory sensitivities that we as adults don’t even notice, and these can be very distressing for a child. Try and find something that works well for your little one.
Show your child how to hold the tissue to their nose, using a gentle pincer grip to pull away. Your child may need help with this at first. There are many great pincer grip activities to do with your little one. You could try any one of these super fun fine motor busy-bag activities
Or check out therapystreetforkids.com for some great ideas on pincer grip activities.
Step 5 – Help out
When your little one has a runny nose, help them to hold the tissue, by putting your hand over theirs. Remind them to close their mouth, and go nostril by nostril. Tell your child ,’Let’s do this one now.’, then close the other nostril gently and ask them to blow. Do the same with the other side. Be sure to make a big deal of how well they did, and how great it is that they’re getting rid of all those germs. Then ask your little one to pop it in the bin, and move on to the fun part – washing hands! (Because, who doesn’t love water!?!)
The skill of nose-blowing is not an easy one, and it does not come over-night. Be patient, and don’t forget to point out when yourself or an older sibling blows their nose. It may feel a little silly, but this way, your little one is actively being reminded of this new skill that they’re trying to learn. Little kids often love imitating their older siblings (and parents too), and might be more inclined to try if they see people they love doing it too.
I hope you’ve found this helpful! Please consider sharing with your friends and family, and don’t forget to check out the rest of my weblog here (brightnbrainy.com). Thanks!
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