Nail Biting: Why Do Kids Do It and How Can I Stop It?

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kids nail biting

At any one time, do you ever find yourself biting nails? If you are used to it, by now, you know that it is not a neat habit. After hiding your fingertips since an early age, now you notice that your child is picking up the pattern. Toddlers biting nails is not an unusual thing, but it is embarrassing especially if you are feeling guilty of being the co-founder.

If no one told you about it, well, here is something you can do about your 4 year old biting nails when ashamed or upset. One thing though, don’t nag him or her about it regardless how gross it appears.

You will learn about why do kids bite their nails and nail biting remedies you can use to at least control if not seize the habit. After deploying one or two of the measures, they will eventually learn to stop it on their own.

Why Do Kids Bite Their Nails?

There are various reasons as to why you will find your kid biting fingernails. It could be anxiety, stress, getting bored or comfort. Some of the common causes that lead to nail biting include:

Killing boredomchild bite their nails

He or she will be watching TV or in class. At this time, kids will get bored and start stuffing fingers in the mouth. So, sitting idle, doing nothing will make the teeth trim the fingernails to a point.

A feeling of comfort

It is a form of reflex to them – putting a finger in the mouth to get comfortable. If it is for comfort reasons, the trend can continue into adulthood. That is why a preschooler if not a toddler will find time to bite nails since it ushers them into relaxing.

Anxiety and stress

Biting nails will be the order of the day if there is something unpleasant is happening in the child’s life. It could be in school or at home. Some of the issues that could trigger the habit include:

  • Fighting parents or family
  • Separation or divorce
  • Relocating to a new neighborhood
  • Death of someone close to them
  • Bullying
  • School transfer
  • Being punished especially if it often
  • Pressure to upgrade his or her performance

Imitation

If they see other siblings or family members biting nails, they will try to do the same to be like them. If it comes from a family member, your child will copy since it will make them feel like a grown-up, which is never the case.

Genetics

We already suggested this at the beginning. The child could be picking up from you which means that the habit might already be embedded in the system. So, if you are fond of biting nails, don’t go wondering where they learned it from.

How to Stop a Toddler from Biting Nails

First, we will start by warning you not to do what most the parents would do when their kid is always biting their nails. You will think of censuring him, but it is not the best idea towards problem-solving. Why? Because the child does not know that he or she is doing it in the first place. So, yelling or punishment will only make things worse and escalate the nail biting cause.

At times, it is okay to let go if that is what will calm them down and help to cope with stress plus you are anticipating that they will eventually leave it behind as age progresses.

So, the question is, can you wait that long until your kid grows up?

According to Janis Keyser, the co-author of ‘Becoming the parent you want to be,’ the first response as a parent towards an unpleasant behavior is trying to stop it for the long-term case. However, it is essential that you find out the underlying issues that trigger the habit and think about if there is any stress affecting your child.

For the toddlers, it is hard to communicate about quitting nail biting, since they cannot explicitly talk about what they exactly feel. Since they are not yet verbally able, recognizing the stress becomes your only option.

On the other hand, that does not mean there is nothing you can for the young one. If you are looking for a nail biting solution, here are some of the techniques to deploy:

Have a talk

If they can listen and respond, well and good. Ask them why they keep trimming the nails. If there is a reason for it, go ahead to address it. Most of the time, it could be something troubling their mind or just getting bored.

Biting nails is harmfulstop your toddler from nails biting

Now, you need a better way to make the above point clear. Let your kid know that germs hide between the fingernails and that they need to stop biting to avoid consumption. When they finally realize that the bacteria can make them sick, it will be easier to stop.

Congratulate them for stopping

Agree with your child that there will be a random nail check to see if he or she is still biting. If they are okay, go on and reward them for refraining. You know what your little one likes, so give them something that they will look forward to in the next random checkup.

Involve the teacher

You need first to convince your child that letting the teacher know about the nail biting habit will help them end it quicker than he or she thought. Talk to the teacher and explain some of the techniques you use at home and see if they can be used in school.

The teacher could find a way to signal the child to remind them about stopping. The other learners do not have to know about it. It could be a little tap or a request to help carry some books. Whatever it is, make sure it does not lead to embarrassment and instead, be a way to encourage.

The rubber band method

This one will work for older kids and teenagers looking forward to stopping biting nails. Have them wear a rubber band around their wrist. Make sure it is not too tight due to circulation.

Now, teach them to snap it every time they realize that they are biting the fingernails. What the child will learn is to associate the little pain with nail biting which will eventually make it go away.

The child is solely responsible for controlling the habit here and it achieving it will bring a sense of pride and independence.

Nail Biting Treatment Methods You Can Use on Toddlers

For those who cannot talk to their kids about stopping to bite nails, see if the following will help.

Taking care of the nails

Boys can go with the nail varnish while girls have all the options here to choose from. The child’s nails are tiny and short, but you can try keeping them neat and manicured.

At times, it feels okay to bite off a cracked nail but working on it does wonders. The only flaw with this method is that the nails might appear cuter for more biting. However, spending time attending to the nails together can be rewarding.

Nail biting treatments

Various treatments are available to help your child to stop nail biting. One good example is Mavala. These treatments are made to be harmless but bitter to the taste. You can paint Nail biting treatmentsthem directly on the nails or rub on the fingertips. The main idea here is to give a reminder that nails do not go to the mouth when trimming.

By merely applying, they are simple to use and will bring the desired effect which the child has to cooperate with. For the stubborn ones, the may suck the bitterness out and continue biting. When you realize that that is the case, go out a hunt for other ideas to keep the habit at bay. The good thing is that we were not short of ideas so, continue reading.

If it is working, remember to reapply it during the day since it wears off after some time.

Aloe Vera

It is a plant with very bitter tasting juice in the leaves. It is also known to have medicinal value so having one at home is not a bad idea. Go ahead and cut one of the leaves into halves and squeeze the gel out. Apply if on the fingertips, and that’s it. It will serve the same purpose as the commercial substitutes but won’t last longer than the latter.

Self-adhesive Bandages

Putting some adhesive strips on the fingertips will make the nail biting to disappear gradually. You can start with covering just one nail. As it grows, remind the child that chewing it is off limits. Move on to the second one and slowly progress until there is only one nail left for eating.

When placing the strip, make sure that it goes directly above the nail and make a habit of replacing it every day.

Wearing gloves

This depends on where you reside. When your child starts biting nails, have them wear gloves which is a quick solution that does not give access to the nails. During cold weather, it is the best time to encourage wearing or when sleeping. So that the child does not get too warm, consider buying thin gloves. The more their nails are restricted, the act offers a better chance to keep the nails intact. Here is the video about how to stop kids from nail biting.

What Can I Do if My Child Wants to Stop Biting Nails?

That means that you can engage a conversation. Build a foundation by first talking about nervous habits and what different people do to make them go away. Go on to find out if you can become involved in curbing the custom. If he or she would like a reminder, then it is time to plan for one. Older children may find it less practical to have their parents involved.

Besides a light touch among other subtle signal ideas, a child can also learn about deep breathing it does the trick or teach them about an emery board if they are old enough to understand.

It is crucial for you to keep trying until you find a solution. Be the leader in finding alternative ways if the previous ones do not work. If it goes on to severe levels, don’t give up. Dig deeper and find out what can cause nail biting and the remedies one can utilize on a child. It is also a good idea to talk to a professional about it and see if there are any answers to your questions.

Learn More about:

Reasons Your Toddler’s Tantrum Can Be a Good Thing

How to Save Our Children from Emotional Child Abuse?

How to Discipline a Toddler With 6 Effective Techniques?

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