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Q&A: Nose-Picking and Eating Buggers?


I am a school-based OT in a primary school, grades K-2. I was recently consulted for strategies on a second grader because of oral seeking behavior. She is licking everything and frequently picks her nose and eats buggers. She says this calms her. She will also play with her buggers with her hands. I think she needs some oral and tactile strategies. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Here are some thoughts and suggestions:

  • Since the child can state this behavior is calming to her, try to observe and find out what’s causing her need calming input in the first place. Too noisy? Task demands to high? Other stressors? If we can make some adjustments to prevent stress or overstimulation, she may not need this form of calming input as much.
  • Offer other forms of calming input (BrainWorks red arrow activities). I would try slime and putty first since she seems to find tactile input to be especially helpful.
  • Set up a behavior program. Maybe a token for every 10 minutes of sanitary actions (not licking things and keeping hands clean and out of her nose). Consequences should also be in place. A logical consequence for licking something would be having to wash it off. A logical consequence for nose-picking would be handwashing.
  • Write or find a social story about good hygiene/nose-picking/licking.
  • Make sure she understands the reasons not to pick her nose/lick things, such as exposing herself and others to germs, risk of illness, distracting to others, and so on.

I hope that helps!

Best Wishes,

Followup to Gwen’s Answer:

Thanks for the great ideas! I have incorporated some calming movement breaks, including some yoga poses to decrease some of her anxiety. I also gave her some manipulatives, including putty and slime. They seem to be working so far. I also spoke to her teacher about providing consequences for the negative behavior, and she seems to be on board. Thanks for your help!