Nail biting in children
4 Ways To Break Your Child's Nail Biting Habit
Nail biting is one of the most common habits amongst children.
Studies estimate that up to 30% of children bite their fingernails at one point or another. Although a large percentage of them will outgrow the habit with increasing age, it's best to get a grip on the problem as soon as possible so that the child doesn't carry the habit all the way into adulthood. Here are several ways to help your child stop nail biting.
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1. Identify And Address The Underlying Problem
Typically, nail biting is sparked by stress, a need for comfort or by being confronted with new circumstances. Try to identify what the source could be. Have there been any major changes in the past weeks or months? Is there a pressing problem that needs to be addressed? Also, try to find out in which situations the child mainly chews the fingernails. If the issue doesn't easily become apparent, simply start a conversation and find out about any possible issues.
2. Remind The Child Of The Habit
One great tip on how to stop biting nails is to help your child become more aware of the behavior. Whenever you observe your child gnawing on the fingernails, gently remind him and take the fingers out of his mouth. Try to be supportive and speak with a soft voice. Harsh scoldings or threatening often results in the opposite of what was intended by causing additional stress and anxiety. Continue to repeat the process until the habit is broken. Remember to stay calm and be patient. It typically will take a bit of time until the habit is gone, but remain optimistic.
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3. Teach The Child How Take Care Of The Nails
Oftentimes, when the fingernails and cuticles are dried out, the nail biting process starts. Teach your child how to apply moisturizing cream to prevent any possible catalysts and help repair the damage that has been done to the skin and fingernails. If your child is too young to apply the moisturizer, you can simply rub a bit of it into the child's nails before going to bed. It's also important to keep the nails trimmed as there will be less temptations throughout the day.
4. Keep The Hands Occupied
One of the best tips on how to stop biting fingernails is to keep the child's hands occupied. Most children are very active beings and like to play around a lot, so help them engage in a different, less destructive activity. Simple take them by the hand and lead them to an engaging task that they enjoy. This should be the second step after having reminded them to stop and it will offer a similar stimulation like gnawing on the nails.
With the help of these simple tips, you should be able to break your child's nail biting habit within a few weeks. If despite all your efforts, you child continues, there is a good chance the biting routine will fade off naturally. Even though fingernail biting may seem like a harmless habit at first, it's best to treat the problem early on.