Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

Are you the type of mom who wishes we lived in a germ free world, and you follow your children around with hand sanitizer 24/7?

Or, are you the mom who thinks germs are everywhere and if your child gets sick it’s a part of life?

 As soon as my girls get home from school, I make them wash their hands.  When we leave a park or the store I clean their hands with sanitizer.  But I also understand germs are everywhere, and research reveals that the hidden germs in our homes can be the worst.  They are on the refrigerator doors, remote controls, telephones, computer key boards, and light switches.  I am not OCD, but I do love to keep a clean home.  However, I also need to remember not to obsess about cleaning everyday because killing all germs prevents our bodies from building up resistance.

Time for some dirty talk…

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

Playing under restaurant tables

The other day I went out to lunch with my daughter and a friend, before we knew it both girls were happily playing under the restaurant table.  Now my oldest is 8 years old so I have seen all my girls do this at some point and, every time it happens, I still think it is gross and I don’t understand the appeal.  My friend, a former restaurant manager, said if one knew all the gross things that make their way under restaurant tables, no one would ever let their kids go under them.  Some things found under tables include: gum, old food, dirty napkins, used utensils, and even a diaper.  As I have talked to other moms, they think it is best to teach your children good manners and sit at the table and not under the table.

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

Try some of these tips to get your kids at the table instead of under the table:

-Before we go to a restaurant I tell my girls if they have good manners and sit at the table (rather than under it), I will buy them a yummy dessert or when we get home from dinner we can have a movie night with some popcorn.

-Practice good manners at home before you take your kids to a restaurant.

-Explain to your children that under the table there is a lot of germs and you don’t want them to get sick.

Nose Picking

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

She couldn’t believe I was letting her pick her nose.

What child or adult doesn’t pick or itch their nose?  A study in 1995 found that 91% of adults pick their noses.  Kids are not aware that picking their noses spreads germs.  The best thing to do is:

-Always correct them if they do it and be consistent.

-Give them some tissues to put in their pockets.

-Wash their hands after they pick so they don’t spread germs.

-Have them checked for allergies.

My daughter always had her finger in her nose.  I have to admit it was funny but also a little embarrassing.  I asked my pediatrician what I could do and he said she was probably allergic to pollen and her nose was itching and bugging her.  So as soon as we put her on children allergy medicine the nose picking stopped very quickly.

Nail Biting

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

No more nail biting

As many as 6 in every 10 children and 45% of teens bite their nails.  Stress and boredom is one of the main reasons children do it.  My daughter Isabella always used to bite her nails as a first grader.  I know she was biting her nails because she was so nervous about being in school all day.  I had to explain to her that she was playing and getting dirty all day. When she bit her nails, all the germs in her finger nails would go directly to her mouth.  Given this warning, she too thought it was gross and the bad habit stopped quickly.

-Tell your children how dirty their hands are.

-Make your child aware of the problem and don’t punish them.  Set a goal and give them a small reward when they accomplish it.

-Tell them when their nails grow back you will give them a beautiful manicure.

-Try Anti-biting nail polish.  I got some at CVS for around $5.  I tried it and it taste really gross.

-Keep their nails trimmed short.

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a lot like biting nails.  But the kids are normally a lot younger and it is harder to help them understand that it is very unhealthy and germy:

-Talk to your child about unhealthy germs on their hands and how they put them in their mouth by thumb sucking.

-Find something else for them to do like playing a memory game, building blocks, or a craft.

-Put a bandage on their thumb.

-Set a goal to help them stop.  Plan a date with mom and dad to get some ice cream or go to a movie, buy them a new box of crayons and a note book, or make them their favorite dinner.

Putting mouths or faces on shopping carts

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

I read on ABC News that shopping cart handles have more germs than public restrooms.  EEK!!!  They are loaded with more saliva, bacteria and even fecal matter then escalators, public telephones and public bathrooms.  Most super markets offer sanitary wipes.  Originally only 5% of customers used them; now, their use has expanded to 15-20%.

-If you don’t have a protective seat cover for your children, don’t ever forget to to use the sanitary wipes.

-After you ditch the cart sanitize your hands or wash them as soon as you get home.

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

Hand Washing

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

 Many germs are harmless but the easiest way to protect yourself from the harmful germs is to wash your hands.  After you go to the bathroom be a good example and wash your hands. Make sure you teach your children to wash their hands properly after they use the bathroom, play outside, before meal time, and especially if they are sick.

-Wash your hands for 20 seconds or sing the ABC’s.

-Once a week use a disinfect wipe to clean the remotes and key boards.

-Keep a stool in the bathroom to make it easier for your children to reach the sink to wash their hands.

-Supervise them.  Help them get into a good hand washing habit so when they are at school or play they can stay healthy.

Other Germy Habits

Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits

Picking toenails-Keep socks on their feet or offer a pedicure if they stop.

Sharing-We teach our kids to share but there are some items you don’t want your kids sharing; hats, tooth brushes, cups, forks, or anything you put into your mouth.

Sneezing-One of my favorite commercials is the one where the little boy sneezes and wipes his nose on the man’s sleeve that is standing next to him.  His mom looks so embarrassed.  It always make me laugh because I could see my girls doing the same thing.  Teach your kids to sneeze in their elbow instead of in the air or into their hands.

Every winter I get a little scared about all the illnesses my kids are going to get from school, church, and play dates.  The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.  It prevents against infection from the flu viruses that researchers predict will be most common in the upcoming year.  Read more here about the flu vaccine.

The truth is we don’t live in a germ free world and most of the time it’s just not the kids with the bad habits it’s the adults too.  The best thing we can do as parents is lead by example and teach our kids healthy habits–a great way to start is by washing your hands and teaching your kids to wash their hands.

What are your quick fixes to help your kids dirty habits?

Ash Sig


Quick Fixes for your Child's Dirty Habits



Ashley was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and now lives in Henderson, Nevada.  She studied in Germany and created a hand knit hat business in 1998–Mutze by Ashley (meaning hat in German).  She is obsessed with her Husband, three daughters, fashion, coconut desserts, and garden gnomes.

Read all of Ashley’s posts

    1. March 8th, 2013 at 10:39 am
      Deanna Sasser says:
      This was a very healthy and informative blog. Thanks for. Addressing this problem which has been especially bad this winter because of all the colds and flus that linger on and on and then when the kids get well, they come home a couple of days later and start all over again.
    2. March 8th, 2013 at 11:46 am
      Brooke says:
      Love the idea of giving a natural incentive like a mani or pedi for little nail biters and nose pickers. Tucking that one in my back pocket for when my toddler discovers her boogers. ;)
    3. March 8th, 2013 at 12:44 pm
      Rachel says:
      I'm proud to say I'm part of the 9% of non-nose pickers. I love the tips, but this article makes me very grossed out and wishing that shaking hands wasn't the way to greet people in our American culture. I'm going to start the trend of bowing like they do in Asia. And I'm stopping to get some hand sanitizer TODAY.
      • March 8th, 2013 at 4:51 pm
        ashley G says:
        I know Rachel! As I did research for this article I was grossed out by shopping carts and baskets. And I am glad you are not a nose picker. Ha ha.
    4. March 8th, 2013 at 11:10 pm
      Audra says:
      Wow! Such good info and beautiful baby model. Thanks for the ideas & help!
    5. March 9th, 2013 at 12:08 am
      Laura says:
      Ugg!! I hate it when my kids try to play under the table when we go out to eat. Now I'm really grossed out by it. Thank you for the suggestions. And I agree with Rachel- u don't want to shake hands with anyone now!!!
    6. March 9th, 2013 at 9:04 am
      Nicolette says:
      I love this post! I always watched "other people's children" picking their nose and thought with disgust, "That will never be my child!" Ha! Thanks for the tips!
    7. March 12th, 2013 at 9:41 am
      Trish Butler says:
      I can not believe that in this day and age, that mothers let their children play on the floor of a cafe or store and Ive seen it in restrooms. I'm no germafobe but where are these parents minds. If I, and I'm 66, ran around a store or cafe, I got a swat on my toosh and rightly so. Do you know how many children I almost fall over and the mothers give me a dirty look. We used to respect the elderly but not anymore. I'm sorry but I have been waiting years to say this. Why is it that most of us get it and others don't. Anyway, thank you for letting me vent. Trish Butler
    8. March 12th, 2013 at 9:47 am
      Theresa says:
      You forgot to mention the number of germs on the salt and pepper shakers on the restaurant tables. Restaurant workers never clean them.And the amount of bacteria found on lemon slices. I have started taking my own tiny shakers and use
      lemon drops from my essential oils (from doterra.com) for my
      ice tea.
      • March 12th, 2013 at 9:58 am
        Ashley says:
        I didn't even think of salt and pepper shakers. And thanks for the doTerra drop idea instead of lemons. Very smart.
    9. March 14th, 2013 at 1:56 pm
      Susan says:
      Great post. And please don't forget hospitals (where I work!). All too often I see small children playing in the floor or even worse children walking barefoot on the floor!! Folks, every floor in a hospital is a gross disgusting collection of body fluids and germs...some germs that don't even live outside of hospitals. Even if it has just been "cleaned," it was most likely mopped using the SAME bucket of water that cleaned several other rooms that day. There are sometimes dirty needles on the floor. Any healthcare facility should be viewed as a biohazard. Employees that work in all parts of the facility (including the operating room (YUK!) are walking around in those shoes that have stood in urine, blood, pus and/or feces. Seriously folks...keep your kids and yourselves off of the floor! AND you may want to spray the soles of your shoes down with Lysol when you leave!!
    10. March 15th, 2013 at 9:07 pm
      Cristi Dame says:
      I don't know what the deal is but my child sneezes all the time... we are still working on the elbow thing! Thanks for all the tips!!
    11. January 6th, 2016 at 3:09 pm
      Mary says:
      I need advice on how to get our 23 year old, yes 23 year old son to stop picking his toenails. He has been doing this for years and other than his big toe, the nails are pretty non existent. I have spoken to him hundreds of time over the years even when he was away at college and worked out of state for 9 months. Sometimes I see him on his computer with one sock off and picking at his toe nails, I think at this point he doesn't realize he is doing it since its been a very long habit.
      Over the years I have talked about infections, ingrown toenails, toenail fungus and just poor hygiene and bad habit. He is a very intelligent young man but this habit is just out of control.
      Any ideas on how to get him to stop it.
    Your One Stop Shamrock Shop! 8 St. Patrick’s Day Ideas!
    Silk Pillowcase – Homemade Beauty Sleep!
    • Popular Round Ups