Here’s a super fun fact that may or may not surprise parents: kids don’t know disgust until their parents teach them to feel it.
Prior to understanding what is ‘gross’ and what is ‘not gross’ – our kids will happily play in rubbish, touch their poop, lick bugs … all things which are probably doing terrible things for their hygiene, but wonderful things for their budding immune system.
According to Paul Rozin, a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania, kids learn disgust at around the age of four. At this stage, kids who once used to happily eat their boogers start becoming particular about things. They won’t eat soup with a hair in it. They’ll want you to change their dirty bandaids umpteen times a day. They won’t want to eat anything that has been in contact with something they deem ‘disgusting’. Paul calls this development, ‘contamination sensitivity’.
All of this is just a round-about way of saying that our kids’ gross stage doesn’t last forever … but boy, while it does, our kids sure enjoy some disgusting behaviours.
Below we’ve rounded up eight of the grossest things our little kids love. Let us know if there’s anything you’d add to this list!
Most kids go through a stage where it feels like their finger is permanently glued to the interior of their nose. If it’s not up there, then it’s probably in their mouth, sucking down a fresh booger. Yum.
2. Toilet bowls
What is it with kids and toilets? It doesn’t matter whether it’s clean or filled with a number 1 or number 2, you can bet your one-year-old will be splashing about in the bowl whenever a free moment arises. We reckon it’s because kids love water, but the sinks are out of reach and the bath is only filled when it’s time to get clean. Just a theory …
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3. Pet food
Young kids also love food that doesn’t belong to them – particularly if it belongs to your cat or dog. Maybe it’s the fact that it smells so strongly like smooshed meat? Or the small fun pellets it comes in? Or the fact that they just reeeeeally love their pet and want to eat what it eats. Whatever their reason, it’s gross. And particularly frustrating when they refuse to eat their pumpkin because of it.
Sure, we get that kids haven’t learnt the subtle art of swallowing their liquids … but surely when they look at a drink bottle filled with floating bits of god-knows-what they think, “Hey, maybe it’s time for a refill?”
It’s great for kids to spend time outdoors, and while a bit of dirt never hurt anybody, it will literally take them one minute to find the nearest creepy crawly in the garden bed … and they’ll probably put it straight in their mouth. Maybe they’ve been watching too much Timon and Pumbaa?
6. Dirty floor lollies
If you ever open a bag of Skittles and send the contents flying all over the lounge room, you better hope you manage to pick up every last one … otherwise, you know that one month later your toddler is going to crawl upon a dirty stash wedged between the couch cushions and gorge themselves silly!
7. Old bandaids and cigarette butts
Is it just me, or does it feel like every time you take a kid to the park and turn your head for a second, suddenly they’ve hunted out someone’s old, manky bandaid or cigarette butt? They haven’t learnt an aversion to blood – particularly that of others – and they certainly don’t know what’s lurking inside a residual cigarette. Hey, they’ll learn one day.
To a toddler, farts are funny – and looking at some adults I know, this might be a stage that some kids never grow out of. Just saying.
f you want to help make the most of your kids’ curious (and disgusting) phase, be sure to check out Busy Bodies with Mr Snot Bottom! It’s an entire podcast of icky facts and gross jokes about the human body.