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How To Stop Nail Biting In Child

Is Nail Biting Genetic

How To Stop Your Child From Nail Biting

The answer is no, and while there may not be a nail biter gene, kids are likely to bite their nails if their parents do. This is because kids are likely to follow their parents behavior. Between nature and nurture, nurture plays a bigger role in evoking nail biting tendencies. Kids absorb your emotions and the energy of a household, and if its a stressful one or youre constantly uneasy, your children will feel it.

Why Do Some Children Bite Nails

Nail biting is called a nervous habit something, a child does unconsciously when he is worried, scared or stressed. Other nervous habits include sucking thumbs, tugging hair, picking nose and grinding teeth. Kids also bite nails when they are bored or curious. They might also be doing it to imitate someone elses nail biting. Sometimes, there is small part of nail hanging and the child must be innocently trying to bite it off, which can cause soreness, making the child attend to the area with further nibbling. Researchers also say that genetics play a role in nail biting too.The child is not doing this consciously. And hence, while there are few things that you can do to stop him from biting his nails, what you should not do is punish or shame him. That will only aggravate the stress the child is feeling, making him want to bite his nails more!

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Discover What Triggers Your Nail Biting

There are many reasons why people bite their nails, but people arent always conscious about why they do it.

One of the most important steps in overcoming this habit is to identify what triggers you to bite your nails.

Is it when youre feeling anxious? When youre bored? Or maybe you start nibbling when you want to forget a certain feeling e.g. anger?

A good way to do this is to keep a journal a notes app on your phone is ok too! Just try to jot down when you bite your nails and how youre feeling / what youre doing.

This will help you to identify any patterns so that you can try and change your reaction to any nail-biting triggers, e.g. filing your nails into a nice shape when youre worried instead of biting them all off.

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Try Habit Reversal Techniques

Habit reversal is a clinical treatment procedure used to treat repetitive behavior problems such as nail biting. This works with older children who can understand why they are practicing it and recognize what triggers their nail-biting episodes. One technique is to do something such as holding her arms straight down and making a fist with her hands as soon as she has the urge to bite her nails. Tapping on a hard surface with the finger nails is another technique. Important people in the childs life needs to be made aware of the method so that they can help the child when needed. Habit reversal has been found to be quite successful in treating many other repetitive behavior problems.9

Does Nail Biting Require Treatment

How to Get Kids to Stop Biting Their Nails: 14 Tips for ...

There is no specific treatment for nail biting. A doctor may check for the possible underlying cause, such as behavioral issues, to determine the triggers for nail biting in toddlers. The treatment of the underlying condition, either through counseling or medications, usually leads to the cessation of the nail biting habit .

Besides the treatment for the cause, some toddlers with severe nail biting habit may undergo the following habit management-related therapies .

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

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How To Stop A Child From Biting Nails

The treatment of NB in children involves a multidisciplinary approach and depends on the conditionâs severity and related risk factors .

Parental involvement is the first line of treatment of NB in children. Hence, your childâs doctor may suggest some of the following techniques to help your child stop biting their nails :

  • Aversive therapies, including keeping the nails trimmed or applying bitter nail polish, may help. However, bitter nail paints are contraindicated in children as they may consider it a punishment.
  • Substitute NB with other relaxation techniques, such as taking deep, slow breaths
  • Identify the triggers that are causing NB.
  • Keep your child busy and focused on other things.
  • Avoid punishing or nagging your child as it may worsen the condition. Instead, encourage your child and give them support and confidence.

You may also seek professional advice if there is no improvement in your childâs condition. The treatment methods for NB in children include :

  • Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, teaches techniques to control NB behaviors in children.
  • Functional analysis therapy can be effective if NB is habitual.
  • Habit reversal therapy comprises self-awareness training, replacement of NB with other behaviors, and supporting the child.
  • Pharmacotherapeutic management with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor , such as Fluoxetine or N-acetylcysteine


  • Nail-Biting.
  • What To Do About It:

    Left alone, your child may gradually outgrow this habit, especially as he finds other ways to relieve stress . Until then, take these steps to subtly steer your nibbler away from his passion.

    • Reduce anxiety. Counter stressful events in your toddlers life with extra attention and affection. Help him find other ways to blow off steam. Physical activity works as do quiet activities, like drawing or listening to a story.
    • Create a code. Make it secret, so just the two of you will know it then, use it to gently remind him to stop biting without nagging or embarrassing him. Discreet options include a light touch on the arm, a pinkie wave or a special word.
    • Offer a substitute. Keep his hands busy with a sugar-free lollipop or frozen ice pop.
    • Keep his hands otherwise occupied. When he starts grazing on that pinkie finger, distract him with a hands-on activity, like playing with clay or working on a puzzle.
    • Keep nails short. Shorter fingernails are boring for nail-biters.
    • Reward his efforts. A sticker for each unchewed nail or a bigger prize for going a week without nibbling can be very motivating. For little girls, the promise of a manicure may work.

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    Why Do Toddlers Bite Their Nails

    Life Coaching for Parents : How to Stop a Child from Nail Biting

    So why is your toddler biting their nails? Sometimes nail biting can appear when your child starts experiencing worry or anxiety for the first time. Another reason is curiosity, if they have a hangnail they might wonder what will happen if they have a little nibble and before you know it a habit has formed. Sometimes they can simply be copying someone else they’ve seen, are there any other nail biters in the family? This could be an opportunity for everyone to try and stop biting their nails together.

    Nail-biting can be a way to relieve tension and cope with strong feelings. If your child has recently experienced a change, maybe a new preschool, moving house, even a new sibling coming along, all of these things can trigger a new habit, in this case, nail-biting.

    Nail-biting can also be comforting, in the same way that thumb sucking or hair twisting can be, it might help them to relax or fall asleep.

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    If Your Child Bites Nails Dont Give In

    Dont give into the temptation to give a reward to a child, or yourself, if nail-biting commenced before the five day period was up. Instead, start over until she is able to go five days straight without biting.

    Not one little nibble 0)

    Gently remind and encourage them throughout the day about your plan and the reward waiting for them at the end of the no nail-biting period.

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    When To Look For Help To Stop Nail Biting

    No matter how hard you try, you may realize that youre not making progress. But that doesnt mean you should give up. It means that you need to look for help. Here are some times when its best to get the help of a doctor or therapist:

    • When all other options have failed to generate results.
    • If you believe the habit is related to a more serious problem, such as an anxiety disorder.
    • When your nail biting is causing other health problems, such as gaps in your teeth.

    When it comes to learning how to help kids stop biting nails, you may need a little bit of help getting through to them.

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    What Are The Risks Of Nail Biting In Children

    It can lead to sore fingers and bleeding cuticles.

    Germs from hands can reach your child’s mouth and cause other infections such as a cold. Nail biting can also cause paronychia, which is a type of painful infection. The area around the nail becomes severely infected with pus, which may need to be surgically removed.

    Continuous fiddling with nails can lead to weak and poorly-aligned teeth.

    Feelings of embarrassment/low self-esteem from chewed nails are possible.

    Nail biting can cause additional anxiety.

    Nail Biting Prevention And Habit Reversal Tips: How To Get Your Child To Stop

    Pin on aaron

    Nail-biting is a common and frustrating habit for many children, teens and parents. Roughly half of all children bite their nails, and it is more common in boys than girls after the age of 10. But, there is good news! More than 75 percent of teens who bite their nails will stop by age 35.

    Why Do Kids Bite Their Nails?

    • Their nails might not be well-trimmed.
    • They see other people do it.
    • To give their brain some extra stimulation.
    • To cope with stress or anxiety.

    There are a few things parents can do to help combat nail-biting which include both general prevention as well as habit-reversal.

    General Prevention Strategies

    • Keep your childs nails well-trimmed. Nail decorating may prevent biting if it fits within your familys culture and values.
    • If nail biting is a habit for you, stop biting your own nails first or at the same time as your child .
    • Teach your child effective ways to manage stress like taking deep slow breaths, squeezing their muscles tightly and slowly relaxing them, as well as doing mindfulness activities.
    • Keep your child and their hands busy.

    Habit Reversal Training

    HRT is a research-based approach to treating all kinds of habits, including nail biting.

    HRT Step 1: Increase Your Childs Awareness of Biting Their Nails

    Put something on their nails: You can use bandages, gloves or bitter nail polish. Note that these strategies are designed to help your child realize they are biting their nails, not stop them from doing it.

    HRT Step 3: Build and Maintain Motivation

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    Keeping The Nails Short

    One of the easiest ways to stop your toddler from biting his nails is by keeping them short. If there is nothing to bite or chew on, the thrill is removed. Your toddler will be dissuaded from biting his nails when the attempt to do so becomes futile. Keeping the nails short will also help to reduce the amount of bacteria that can be ingested. Cut his or her nails every day and your toddler will find that the temptation to bite the nails is diminished. Take care of the cuticles and remember that bacteria can enter the skin through the area around the nail.

    How Can I Get My Child To Stop Biting Her Nails

    Nail biting is a common habit, but usually not a serious one for most children. Most children who bite their nails eventually lose the habit, but some may continue well into adulthood. In more serious situations, nail biting can lead to health concerns. There is no prescription to stop nail biting, but it can be addressed. Dr. Cindy Gellner talks about the reasons why nail biting occurs and offers suggestions on how to help your child stop biting her nails.

    Dr. Gellner:


    Dr. Gellner:

    Most children that bite their nails have no problems. In some cases, nail biting may cause a bacterial infection called paronychia, which requires a doctor’s visit for antibiotics. If your child has warts, they can get around the nail beds. Children touch everything and then, if they put their fingers in their mouth, they can get sick because they have just introduced germs into their body. And some children who bite their nails for years can cause permanent nail damage.

    So how can you help your child to stop biting their nails? I have actually been asked to prescribe medication someone found on the Internet to get kids to stop. Sorry, no such medicine exists. Also, punishing or shaming a child for nail biting is not helpful. The best thing you can do to help your child is to try and figure out why they are biting their nails in the first place. If your child is under a lot of stress, try to reduce the stress. Talk about what is bothering them and ways to handle those situations.

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    Nail Biting Habit Causes

    To nip nail biting in the bud, you need to understand why kids indulge in the habit and the nail biting causes. Nail biting is a very common stress relieving habit. Kids bite their nails due to a wide range of reasons like curiosity, boredom, stress relief, habit, and often imitation. Nail biting is one of the many nervous habits among kids that will most likely grow into adulthood, if not stopped before they become a teenager. This is why breaking the nail biting habit in your child is important.

    That being said, there are several strategies parents can use to nip the nail-biting habit in the bud. To a certain extent, ignorance works. A lot of kids drop the habit after a few years. However, some parents cannot just look away when they discover that their kids picked up a nail-biting habit.

    A very effective way of curbing the habit is to use nail biting polish for toddlers. A nail-biting polish is a top-coat nail polish with an added ingredient that tastes bad, designed to stop biting nails by giving reminders every time the fingers enter the mouth. There are several types of nail-biting polish on the market. In this article, we will be taking a look at the best ones for your kid.

    How To Stop Your Children From Biting Their Nails

    How Can You Help Your Child Stop Biting Their Nails? (Raising Children #25)

    Nail-biting onychophagia in medical parlance is a common habit among children, one many of us may remember from our own childhood. Its another matter when you see your child chewing on their nails, though! If your childs nail-biting habit is stressing you out, heres what you can do to get them to stop.

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    How Can I Get My Child To Stop Biting Nails

    Do you have any nervous habit? Or do you have any habit that you are trying to break? If yes, then you know how difficult it is! So do not expect your child to stop biting nails just because you say so. It takes time, patience and lot of encouragement. Find below 10 Tips To Get Rid Of Nail Biting In Children

    Tips To Help Stop Nail Biting

    I can tell you the exact moment my son Alexander became a nail biter. He was 5 years old, watching his mom get dressed for work. I could see at the time Alexander place his finger in his mouth and chew on his nail. He never stopped it was embarrassing for him, he learned to wrap his fingers all the way around his drinking glass, so that the nails faced his chest. He hated doing homework in public places because he was embarrassed about how his nails looked.

    Nail biting is an oral functional habit, the use of the mouth for a purpose other than speaking, eating or drinking, a category that includes grinding teeth, digit sucking, pencil chewing and mouth breathing. Nail biting begins during childhood, increases substantially during adolescence, and declines with age, although the habit may continue into adulthood. The considerable increase in nail biting in teens may be explained by the difficulty of transitional phases in a teens life, and the feeling of instability associated with those phases.

    Nail biting can sometimes affect individuals who are psychologically stable, but it is usually a sign of loss of control over difficult tasks. The principal psychological factors found to be associated with this behavior are:

    • Stress
    • Anxiety
    • Depressed mood

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    When Nail Biting Could Be Something More

    Sometimes, nail biting could negatively affect your childs social relationships or interfere with their daily functioning. Youll notice this happening if your child complains that other children are teasing them about their bitten nails.

    Nail biting can also have physical ramifications. It can lead to painful ingrown nails or nail infections caused by bacteria that have entered the damaged skin around the nail.

    More rarely, chronic nail biters can damage their nail beds and teeth. This is called onychophagia. Research shows that it can be treated using oral devices to help break the habit.

    A toddler who adds habits to their repertoire may be signaling that theyre anxious about something. By spending one-on-one time with your child, youll build up a strong parent-child relationship that will help them share whats going on in their world.


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