Strategies To Stop Kids From Biting Their Nails
Written by Sneh Chaudhry on June 26, 2022
Mindlessly biting or chewing on fingernails is something both adults and kids do. It is often considered an unhealthy, unhygienic behaviour with the risk of making your child more exposed to germs, but sadly it is a habit, that many struggles to give up.
While nail-biting is generally harmless and does not have any serious effects – other than messing up your nail appearance – it could however indicate nervousness and in some, even anxiety.
Therefore, if your child constantly bites their nails, make sure you identify the causes and try to understand why they have developed this “nervous habit”.
Your child bites his or her nails out of habit. It could have started because of several reasons ranging from boredom, stress relief, curiosity or imitation. Nail-biting is commonly known as a “nervous habit”, which also includes nose picking, hair twisting, thumb-sucking and teeth grinding.
There are various measures you can take to stop your child from biting their fingernails. Following are some effective strategies:
Cut their nails – This is one of the best ways to avert your child’s habit of chewing on nails. If you cut them regularly, there will not be anything to bite on.
Address their habit – To help your child stop biting their nails, you have to make them aware of their habit. Talk to your child about what’s bothering them and let them know you can help them. Help them break the habit.
Shift focus – Keep your child’s hands and fingers focused on something else, so they do not feel the urge to bite on the nails. Give them stress ball or a fidget. This could take their focus off of the nails.
Decide on a signal – Parents and children should decide on a signal that would alarm the kid when he or she is indulging in nail-biting. You can either gently tap or touch their arms or give them a nod.
Use a bitter nail polish coating – Another way to avert nail biting is by using a bitter coating on the nails. This would instantly stop the child from biting the nails.
Establish a reward system – If your child is small, you can create a reward system. Maintain a chart and mark the days your child does without biting on their nails and give them a treat. This will motivate them further to refrain from nail-biting.
In certain rare cases, nail-biting can be associated with excessive stress and anxiety. Continuous biting of the nails can sometimes lead to sore fingernails, which could be accompanied by bleeding. If you notice a sudden change in your child’s behaviour along with a sudden and escalating nail-biting habit, then make sure you consult a doctor.
Additionally, there are a few things parents should keep in mind while taking measures to stop kids from nail-biting.
– Do not nag or punish them for biting their nails. Instead, help them with the right measures.
– Address your child’s anxiety triggers, if any.
– Communicate with your child and discuss possible ways to break unhealthy habits.
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