How To Help Your Children Stop Nail Biting

Help your Children Break this Bad Habit

Boy biting his nails

All parents worry about their children's bad habits. Nailbiting, although not one of the worst things a child can do by any means, can be unattractive, annoying, and damage their teeth. Parents often punish or reprimand their children for biting their nails, but there are much more effective ways to help your children stop biting their nails.

  1. Teach your child to crochet or knit. Even children of a young age can learn to knit, crochet, or fingerknit. When they are occupied with creating things out of yarn, they will not remember to bite their fingernails, and their hands would be too occupied to do so anyway!

  2. Give children toys to play with. Play-Doh and clay are wonderful ways to keep children's hands occupied, as are pipe cleaners and twist ties. Children are very creative, so harness their nervous energy.

  3. Give your child something that feels good in their hands. Some people have found that Koosh balls work well, while some use squeeze stress balls or rub smooth stones or worry rocks. These objects can be soothing for children's minds as well as their hands.

  4. Take your child to get a professional manicure. Sometimes it's easier to stop nail biting when your fingernails look really good. At the very least, it can be excellent mother-daughter bonding time!

  5. Reward your child. Depending on the child, this may work well or it may put too much pressure on him or her. With some children, complimenting them or providing small rewards when you see them trying not to bite their nails can help motivate them.

  6. Use bitter nail polish. Sold at most drugstores, this nail polish is clear and bitter, so that once the fingernails go in the mouth, the child (or adult!) tastes a harmless but very unpleasant flavor, reminding them not to do it again.

  7. Carry nail files with you. Children may be more likely to bite their nails if they find a jagged edge. Carrying nail files or clippers with you allows you to take care of these edges immediately.

  8. Do not punish your children for nail biting. Children find it very difficult to stop a habit, just like adults do, even if they are aware that it is a bad habit. Use encouragement and compassion, rather than harsh punishments.

  9. Take your child to the doctor if you are worried. If the nail biting seems like a sign of a high level of worry or anxiety, talk to your child, and take him or her to the doctor if you think you need help.

Although children – and adults – everywhere will continue to bite their nails, you can help your little nail biters to break the habit. Who knows, you might even need some of these tips yourself!

 

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Comments

Sep
22

Several of them worked for me when I was a kid! The bitter nail polish is really bad-tasting.

By Bronwyn Harris
Sep
22

Several of them worked for me when I was a kid! The bitter nail polish is really bad-tasting.

By Bronwyn Harris
Sep
22

These are seem like great ideas, but are they working? I mean do they really work on everyone (children)?

By Lang (Elaine) Ngo