Nail Biting in Children
One of the habits that toddlers learn is nail biting. It can be unattractive, irritating, and harmful to their health. However, similar to thumb sucking, it normally goes away on its own with time.
But sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve all met people our own age who chew on their nails. Sometimes these habits never leave, which makes it important to make sure your child doesn’t bite their nails.
Most experts, however, attribute nail biting to habit – a repetitive action that your kid isn’t even aware of.
Nail biting Habits form for three primary reasons:
- Boredom– Because there is nothing else to do, a bored child may begin biting at their nails.
- Relief– Nail biting could be a stress response. (It’s similar to grabbing for chocolate.)
- Relaxant– Some children suck their thumbs to sleep, while others gnaw their nails.
Growing up may be stressful for children, and many of these tensions and stresses are invisible to parents. If your child bites moderately (without injuring himself) and subconsciously (for example, while watching television), or if he bites in response to certain situations (such as performances or tests), it’s just his way of coping with little stress, and you shouldn’t be concerned.
How To Stop Nail Biting in Children
Your child will most likely stop themselves, but if the nail-biting continues for longer than you’d like, or if it’s a habit you simply can’t live without, there are simple ways to help them stop:
Ensure that your child is on board
Your kid will not be able to break a habit if they are unaware that they are doing so. Furthermore, they must be motivated to stop biting their nails.
The first step is to ensure that you are all on the same page. Help your child realize that nail biting is a bad practice that should be avoided, especially because it can lead to infections and dental problems. You might also discuss hygiene and the use of fingers that have been in your mouth.
Never Nag or Punish
You probably won’t be able to do much about it unless your child genuinely wants to stop biting his nails. Nail-biting, like other anxious habits, is usually unconscious.
Nagging and disciplining your child are ineffective techniques if he is unaware of what he is doing. Even adults struggle to stop bad habits like this.
Set boundaries if the habit disturbs you. “No nail-biting at the dinner table”.
Keep nails short
Because your toddler can’t bite what isn’t there, keep their nails cut. This also prevents bacteria and dirt from becoming trapped under your toddler’s nails and entering his or her system.
Keep your child’s hands busy with other activities. Provide them some rubber balls, or a soft piece of cloth to grasp. This may be especially effective if they bite their nails as a result of stress or anxiety.
Make use of a Reward System
Provide a tiny incentive or a star on a sticker chart for each day your child does not bite their nails. They get to choose a gift at the conclusion of the week. (This does not have to be large for toddlers. In fact, a sticker — or, if they’re into it, a fun nail-painting session — may suffice as a reward.)
Slow but a Progressive Process
While your child will most likely outgrow their nail-biting habit, you can try to assist them stop as soon as possible. This requires effective communication, positive reinforcement, and patience on your part.
Speak with your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about how their habit is hurting their health or social interactions.
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