Kids Biting Nails: Whats The Worst That Can Happen
Children biting nails may seem like a very natural occurrence, but there are very real reasons why your little one should keep those pearly whites away from their fingers.
While this is by no means a sure guide to the horrors that await your little angel, it is good to know what can happen if their nail-biting habit gets way out of hand. In short, biting can lead to:
- Severe shortening of their nails
- Constantly broken skin on the fingertips
- Increased risk of chronic paronychia
- Partial destruction of the cuticle or the nail plate
- And, of course, other secondary infections
While these are extreme end results, each one of them began as an innocent biting of that very first nail and grew into a problem from there. Understanding the worst-case scenario can help gauge the seriousness of the situation.
Learning how to get kids to stop biting nails, depending on whats causing the habit, will help make sure you have the skills to support your child in breaking the habit.
Ask Your Friends And Family To Help
You may not notice youre biting your nails as often as you are, and once you do the damage is often already done.
One thing you can do is ask the people around you to remind you not to bite your nails you choose how cruel or kind you want them to be.
This not only gives you accountability and a better visibility of your nail-biting habit, but it also gives you the support to help you stop.
Why Is My Toddler Biting Their Nails
Some research shows that nail biting may have genetic factors. Also, your toddler could be biting their nails because of the attention they garner when you insist they stop.
However, most experts pin down nail biting to habit a repeated behavior that your child isnt even aware of. Habits develop for three main reasons:
- Boredom. A bored child may start nibbling at their nails because there isnt anything more pressing to do.
- Relief. Nail biting may be a response to stress.
- Relaxant. Some kids suck their thumbs to help them fall asleep, while others bite their nails.
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Take Your Teeth Into Consideration
You may have your dental hygiene routine down but biting your nails could be setting your mouth health back, bigtime.
Biting your nails can cause problems down the line like cracked and chipped teeth. Use this as motivation to stop biting your nails unless you really do want to go and sit in that dentist chair.
Try A Bit Of Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd is a vegetable commonly used in Asian cuisine hailed for its naturally bitter taste.
Also known as bitter squash or bitter melon, this vegetable is very potent when used on its own.
Its bitter taste is sure to put you off biting your nails, leaving a gag-worthy taste in your mouth if you choose to get nibbling.
You can either crush bitter gourd, apply the juices on your nails and leave to dry, or find a pre-prepared bitter gourd nail-biting treatment in the shops.
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Create A New Healthier Habit
Like every habit, nail biting is a tough one to quit, so replacing it with a healthy one can be a good tactic!
Try introducing regular snacks of crunchy carrot, cucumber and apple sticks as they can replicate the crunch they get when biting their nails.
A small stress ball or some silly putty can work in the same way, giving your child something else to focus on when theyre feeling fidgety or worried.
What Could Go Wrong If The Habit Persists
Without getting overly worried over your childs nail-biting habit, there are some dental and medical problems that you should watch out for.
Other than the obvious cosmetic problems, severe nail-biting could infect and damage the skin. These are possibilities:
- Chronic paronchyia, a bacterial infection that involves inflammation of the skin around a finger
- Subungual infection, a condition during which blood collects under the fingernail causing a lot of pain
- Onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the nails
- Onycholysis, damage to the nail bed14
Children can also contract other infections from touching things around them and then putting their fingers into their mouth.15
If nail-biting persists for several years, it could lead to damage and hinder normal nail development.
It could also lead to dental problems.
- Continuous nail-biting creates mechanical forces that could lead to misalignment of teeth, dental crowding, and rotations.
- Onychophagia could also cause temporomandibular dysfunction or problems with the chewing muscles, and the joints between the base of the skull and the lower jaw.16
In rare instances, nail-biting may be a sign of a deeper problem like obsessive-compulsive disorder which requires treatment with medication.17
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Consequences Of Biting Your Nail
Although nail biting is unsightly in social situations, it’s typically harmless for kids. However, it can become a medical concern if it damages the cuticle, nail, or surrounding skin. “If the skin around the nail is red, painful, or has discharge, your child should be evaluated by their pediatrician,” says Dr. Montez.
Nail biting may also increase the risk for paronychia, a skin infection around the nails. “And if kids play in the dirt a lot, there’s also the opportunity to get parasitic infections from eggs that may be in the dirt,” says Dr. Hill.
Lastly, nail biting can be a sign of depression or anxiety. “If a child is experiencing pain or discomfort from biting their nails but they do it anyway, they may be trying to tell you that they have some anxiety that biting their nails is providing relief for,” says Dr. Chavis.
Find A Secret Signal To Stop Them Biting
Nail biting can often be subconscious, so coming up with a way to make your child aware of their biting can be useful.
Try lightly tapping your childs arm or leg when they are biting their nails without telling anybody else.
Keep it friendly and avoid scolding them, this is only to make them more aware of their biting.
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Fear About Nail Trimming
After having worked our way down a list of reasons that could contribute to our sons new-found habit of nipping at his fingertips, we discovered that the whole thing stemmed from an incident where we had trimmed his nails a bit too close to the cuticle. That minor incident had given birth to a reluctance to trim nails, and eventually to his reasoning that if he trimmed them himself, we wouldnt have to.
The solution: Over the following months, we took great care not to hurt him while trimming nails after bath time. We slowly eased him into the trimming process by involving all the kids. We even tried to make nail care fun and fascinating. We sat them all down and explained to them how their nails worked what was the cuticle, what we trimmed, where we should cut the nail away, and showed them how to do it themselves.
How To Stop Your Children From Biting Their Nails
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
For example, at breakfast you might tell them calmly, “It would be nice if you could not bite your nails today,” and explain that you’ll touch their hand lightly with your index finger every time you see them nibbling.If the habit bothers you, set limits. “No nail biting at the dinner table” is as reasonable a rule as “No feeding the dog from your plate.” At other times, explain in a compassionate way that you know they can’t help it, but you don’t like to watch them biting their nails, so you’re going to another room for a few minutes. The most important thing is to keep what’s basically a nuisance from escalating or getting laden with emotion. Stifling your anger for as long as you can and then snapping, “Stop biting your nails! I can’t stand it!” is a recipe for disaster. If the situation is already tense, defuse it by being straightforward — “I think we’re both getting too worked up over this. I’m going to take a break from it for a while.”As long as they’re not hurting themselves and don’t seem stressed out, your best bet is to wait out the habit. The less fuss they associate with their nail biting, the more likely they’ll stop on their own when they’re ready — and the more likely they’ll feel comfortable asking you for help.
How To Stop Your Child From Nail Biting
Does your child bite his/her nails? Many parents struggle over how to help their child stop nail biting, as well as other bad habits such as thumb sucking.
So I have put together this video for you with my advice for parents on how to stop nail biting in children.
Be sure to check out KIDS, THE MANUAL for the fastest and easiest way to eliminate problem behavior in kids aged 2-12Guaranteed! Its full of tips for parents, along with simple, step-by-step methods to quickly and calmly eliminate behavior problems in children.
So if you notice, you know, every time she hurts herself she sticks her fingers in her mouth, or every time shes uncomfortable in a situation she bites her nails, or every time I raise my voice to her she starts biting her nails, and really get to the root of what causes her to go for that behavior.
And I would give that a full week of standing back and observing what leads your child down that path. Once youve really pinpointed some of the cues you then can start to, what I call distract, basically swipe, and deploy. So you would, you know, if she falls down and hurts herself, and you know that what she often does right after is stick her fingers in her mouth, then you can swoop in with an alternative.
So get there quickly. Offer a hug instead, or suggest she kiss her owie better, or give her something else that will offer up the same kind of comfort, just in a different format.
All right? Thanks for watching. Sleep well.
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Simple Steps To Kicking The Habit
Comprehensive daily steps outlined in our e-book, and here is a brief excerpt:
Day 1: The decision is made!
Apply Magique NoBite treatment to only nine of your nails, leaving the little finger on one of your hands free. If the urge to bite your nails is overpowering, you still have your unprotected little fingernail to satisfy your need and limit the damage. This ânakedâ finger is your safety net!
Day 2: Reapply Magique NoBite daily
Reinforce the bitterness of Magique NoBite every day by applying a fresh coat. The bitterness will last effectively up to a week, but why take any chances. Reapplication is most important in the early weeks, but it will be helpful throughout the first 30 days. Besides, you got a large bottle of Magique NoBite polish, so you may as well use itâ¦right?
Day 6: Results begin to appear
You should be starting to see results, but you will need to STOP chomping on those cuticles. We would have put this first, since it is important, but the order of things demand that you get all the grunginess that is going to tempt you into biting taken care of first. You are going to have to push your cuticles back daily.
Tips To Get Rid Of Nail Biting In Children
The good news, if you can call it one, is that nail biting is not an uncommon phenomena in kids. As many as 60% of children and 45% of teens bite nails. The bad news, however, is that it is a touch habit to break and is often something that gets carried forward to adulthood. Find out 10 Tips To Get Rid Of Nail Biting In Children.While it is pardonable in a child, it looks quite inappropriate and unprofessional in adulthood. As parents you have the chance and duty to nib this habit in the bud, so that your child does not grow up to bite nails while watching a suspense thriller or waiting for a meeting with his/her boss.First step is understanding why your child bite nails.
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Make Sure Your Child Is On Board
Your child cant stop a habit if they dont know theyre doing it. Plus, they need to be motivated to want to stop biting their nails.
The first step is to make sure youre a team. Help your child understand that nail biting is a habit thats worth stopping, especially since it can cause infections and problems with your teeth. You can also talk about hygiene and touching things with fingers that have been in your mouth.
Resort To Few Tried And Tested Creative Techniques
You could put bandages on your child finger tips or if its a girl, paint the nails with multiple coats of nail polish. Some also use bitter tasting polish to make biting more of a challenge. While some experts claim these to be ineffective as children, consider them as a type of punishment, there is no harm in trying it if all other methods fail and you are convinced about what you are doing is rightHope the above mentioned 10 Tips To Get Rid Of Nail Biting In Children is helpful for you.
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Why Your Child Bites Their Nails And How To Help Them Stop
Nail biting is unsightly, and it can lead to skin damage, infections, and other health risks. Heres how to help your child stop the bad habit once and for all.
Nail biting is a common habit during childhood. But although it can be frustrating for parents, it’s often harmless, and kids usually outgrow it over time. “A lot of kids stop biting their nails as they age and start to look around and see that other people aren’t doing it,” says David Hill, M.D., adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics at University of North Carolina School of Medicine and author of Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro and Co-Parenting Through Separation and Divorce.
That said, excessive nail biting can be problematic for kids’ health, causing infection or damage to the skin, nails, and cuticles. We spoke with three pediatricians to better understand why kids bite their nails and how to help them stop.
How To Stop Your Child From Biting Their Nails
Parents should never be punitive or insulting about their kid’s nail-biting habit. “Often, calling attention to the behavior, especially through ridicule or punishment, will cause it to worsen,” says Dr. Montez.
Instead, if you’re disturbed or distressed by nail biting, you can try habit reversal training, which uses positive reinforcement. Most people are unaware of their habits, explains Dr. Hill, so the first step is bringing it to your child’s attention. One way to do this is sitting them in front of the mirror as they bite their nails and saying, “This is what it looks like and feels like when you’re biting your nails.”
Or, if your child is old enough, you can simply ask them about their nail biting. “When you gently bring it to their attention, you can say, ‘Do you feel better when you do that? Or are you just bored?'” says Dr. Chavis. “Kids can give very insightful answers to simple questions.”
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Ways To Get Kids To Stop Nail Biting
Looking for methods to try when navigating how to get kids to stop biting their nails? These ideas are proven winnersgive a few of them a try and see which work best for your child. Remember, it will take more than a day for these methods to work, so give them some time.
1) One effective way to dissuade children from chewing on their nails is to apply a bitter solution to their fingernails and cuticles. Each time their mouth touches the area, they will have a mouthful of bitter, which is enough to help move them along the process quickly. This method should not be used on young children, so make sure to read the age guidelines on each product. Those who want a more natural solution can try using aloe vera on the nails as that is also bitter, but be forewarned that it will not last as long as the solution.
2) For young children, one of the most effective ways to stop nail biting is for you to physically touch them and remove the finger from their mouth. This will help them notice they are chewing and help them stop. This works especially well if you can put something else in their hands and mouth to distractlike a lollypop or teething toy.
3) A bandaid applied to the ends of the fingers can completely hide nails and make it much harder for children to chew. If you are desperate for ideas to help you figure out how to get kids to stop biting their nails, this is an inexpensive and easy solution.
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