Wiping Noses

Temperatures just a few degrees below room temp can make the nose run as blood vessels dilate increasing supply to protect it as the nose works to humidify, warm up and filter incoming air. While a child can not catch a cold by being cold, the spreading of germs from a runny nose can.  As winter approaches, we often find ourselves chasing after children with offers to help them in wiping their noses.

As with any care giving routine, an offer to wipe a child’s nose is approached by the adult with the utmost respect, giving time for the child to incorporate what is happening to their body and participate in her own care cooperatively.  The attitude of the adult is paramount as it is conveyed to the child.  If the adult sees the upcoming connection necessary when wiping a child’s nose as an opportunity for learning and a pleasurable experience- so, too, will the child.

Here, the Primary Caregiver notices that a two year old girl in her care has a runny nose. Today, mittens prevent the child from caring for herself and her teacher asks if she would like some assistance.

Now I know, wiping a child’s nose doesn’t sound like a big deal at first glance.  But upon closer inspection of this very short clip, I am struck by details.  Obviously, this pair have a deep and mutually respectful relationship founded on trust.  The child is open to her Primary teacher in the ways she holds herself, makes eye contact, and through her cooperation.  The teacher obviously enjoys each moment they are together whatever the task and takes time to include the child in the caregiving process.  A fluidity exists that can not be taught by the nodding of heads, the gentleness of touch as the two move close together, re-enforcing smiles and glances, and the parting of ways.

I look forward to observing these two come back together when they next meet up.

4 thoughts on “Wiping Noses”

  1. I love that interaction. Sometimes
    however, when I child is wiping their nose with their fingers constantly and about to stick their mucous (germ) covered hands on toys or other children, one needs to be a little quicker with the tissue!

    1. True- working with a group of children, one can’t always be there before a point of contact. Germs can be cleaned off toys and washed from hands, while the way we approach a child lingers. What I found most interesting is that having just returned from a Pikler Training, the adult taking the video found interest in this part of what we do.

  2. I love this approach! I’ve seen some “ugly” nosewipes during my student observations teachers comes up behind a student and wipes without any warning . I like that the child agreed to the interaction before it occurred. I have an 15-month-old who has terrible runny noses when teething and although it takes extra patience on my part this type of approach works well.

    1. It’s always hard to give care when a child associates it with anxiety or pain. Just being empathetic in the situation will provide adults guidance. Nose wiping and blowing aren’t always cooperative and pleasant experiences, but it’s always a positive interaction when it’s done respectfully.

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