As if you didn’t have enough on your plate already! After the struggles of breastfeeding, potty training, and running after you child, you now have a new challenge to take on. How do you stop a child from biting their nails? Nail biting not only ruins the nails, it can also be unpleasant to watch. But you’ll be surprised at what the experts say about stopping the behavior.
What Makes a Child Bite Their Nails?
Nail biting is a nervous habit, just like leg shaking and thumb sucking. But your child may also bite their nails for other reasons. They may pick up the habit after seeing someone else do it or out of boredom. Do they bite their nails when they’re watching TV, studying for an exam, or in deep thought? You’ll probably be able to tell why they’re doing it by simply watching for triggers.
How Do I Stop My Child From Biting Their Nails?
Unless your child is hurting themselves by biting their nails, experts say you shouldn’t really do anything to get them to stop. Nagging, punishing, or calling too much attention to the the habit can put even more stress on them and potentially make the behavior worse. Just make sure to trim their nails and have them wash their hands frequently to avoid getting sick.
If you believe the nail biting is stress-related, you should try to find out what is causing the stress and address the root cause. Sometimes a major change, like a move or family member passing away, can cause the stress. This is when you can offer up healthy coping skills, like getting them to talk about how they’re feeling or taking walks to burn off the nervous energy. You can also offer them alternatives to biting their nails like clicking a pen or playing with putty.
It’s also okay to set some boundaries around when and where they can bite their nails. For instance, you can tell them that biting nails is off limits while visiting a friend’s house or eating a meal. Most of the time, kids will come to a point when they’re ready to stop. With older kids, you can share different techniques you’ve read about. Be supportive and encourage them to try different solutions until they find one that works. There are a range of home remedies you can try.
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