Biting Fingernails

by Philipp I.
(San Antonio, TX)

How to keep your child from biting fingernails?

Nail biting is very common among children. Almost 35 percent of children engage in the habit.

Most children outgrow the habit with maturity & gain in self-confidence. Nevertheless, it's wise to help your child overcome the bad habit as soon as possible:

  • Explain your child why nail biting isn't a healthy habit. It can have diverse undesirable health related consequences.

  • Create consciousness that biting disfigures fingernails and can lead to a painful infected nails.

  • Appreciate whenever your child successfully resists her urge to bite fingernails.

  • Small gifts as rewards further increase child's own efforts to overcome the bad habit.

  • Try to figure out the situations in which the child indulges into biting fingernails. Which emotions frequently lead to a nail biting session? Stress, nervousness or boredom?

  • Gently remind the child of her resolution to stop biting nails:
    Avoid scolding and nagging. They have the very opposite of the desired effect. Ridiculing and nagging traumatize child's self-esteem and aggravate the stress.

  • Grasp child's interest: Provide what interests the child. Most often it is just your attention. The child could be needing your affectionate care at that moment, so give that extra attention.

  • Teach your child how to take care of the fingernails: Let her know that keeping them in the best shape contributes to overall good looks.

  • Often it's a rough edge or hangnail that initiates nail biting:
    Take care that the nails are regularly trimmed and rough edges smoothened with a nail file.

  • Apply some bitter tasting lotion on the fingernails on a regular basis: Not as a punishment, but only as a reminder; and with her consent.
    The key here is to coat the nail consistently, after each hand wash, which could weaken the bitter effect.
    This works as a constant soft physical reminder, and that too with full consent of the concerned child. Consequently, each time the fingers reach the mouth, child's own resolution to overcome the habit of nail biting gets consolidated.

    By using these simple steps, your child will be able to break the habit of biting fingernails.

    Related Pages:

    Understand & Resolve Causes of Nail Biting & Thumb Sucking.

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