When Is A Habit No Longer Just A Habit
In some cases, a habit is the result or the cause of a physical or psychological problem. For example, a nose-picker might be uncomfortable because there’s actually an object stuck in the nose. And the habits themselves can cause some medical complications, such as:
- nosebleeds in the nose picker
- ingrown or infected nails in the nail biter
- dental problems, such as malocclusion , or thumb or finger infections in the thumb sucker
A habit may no longer be a simple habit if it negatively affects a child’s social relationships or interferes with daily functioning.
Older kids who constantly suck their thumb might be experiencing significant stress or anxiety. If kids are the subject of teasing at school or have difficulty talking because they won’t take their thumbs out of their mouths, the behavior has gone beyond a simple habit. Kids who pull their hair out may have trichotillomania, a condition that results in hair loss. And habits that are in response to obsessive thoughts may be a sign of OCD.
However, most habits don’t cause any significant problems and tend to improve as kids get older. But if you’re concerned about your child’s habits, talk with your doctor.
The Cause Of Nail Biting
Many of us adults can be sympathetic to the act of nail-biting, since weve all been there ourselves.
Most of the time, the reason for nail-biting isnt much of a reason at all. Its simply something we do out of boredom and maybe a nervous reaction to an uncomfortable or stressful situation.
For kids, the world can be a confusing or scary place, and biting their nails might give them a bit of comfort or security when things get a bit overwhelming.
Just like sucking on a pacifier or thumb or chewing on a plastic toy or blanket, nail-biting is simply another habit along these lines. Many kids are simply curious about what the heck their nails are and what they could possibly taste like weird but true!
From that perspective, its important not to shame or punish young kids for nail-biting, especially if they are in the process of teething or only just starting to be comfortable with their bodies. Everything is a first-time learning experience at that age, and you want to limit judging these actions from an adult point of view.
Remember that between 30 and 60 percent of school-age kids bite their nails to some extent, and these habits even sometimes extend into young adulthood and beyond.
Why Do Habits Start
Habits can be comforting for children. Sucking is a good example. As toddlers leave behind the baby stage, habits like thumb-sucking can be a way of soothing stress or anxiety.
Sometimes habits happen because children are bored. That is, the behaviour is just how children entertain themselves. For example, children are more likely to bite their nails while watching TV or doing nothing at all than when theyre feeling anxious.
Sometimes habits start for practical reasons but keep going when the practical reasons have gone. For example, young children with colds often pick their noses to clear them. Children who keep picking even after theyve learned to blow their noses probably have habits.
Youre a role model for your child. If you see your child starting a habit, perhaps ask yourself whether its one of your own habits. For example, nail-biting might be passed on within a family.
Note: some toddlers seem to get comfort from some common but slightly unusual behaviour, including body-rocking, head-rolling and head-banging. Most children stop this behaviour by the time theyre 5 years old.
Some behaviour might look like a habit but have a medical cause. For example, if a child suddenly starts pulling or hitting an ear and is also cranky, it might be because they have an ear infection or are teething. Pulling at hair, eyebrows and eyelashes can be a sign of an emotional disorder.
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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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How To Get Kids To Stop Biting Their Nails: 14 Tips For Parents
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If you are trying to figure out how to get kids to stop biting their nails, it may seem like you have an uphill battle against you. Everyone has heard a horror story of an adult who was never able to break this childhood habit. Not only is nail-biting a pretty gross pastime, but it can cause dental and gastrointestinal problems due to the bacteria from under your nails. Not good! Here is how to get kids to stop biting their nails well before adulthood.
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Possible Concerns And Hazards
While most of the medical community agrees that nail-bitingusually not a cause for concern, there are some problems that can arise if nail biting is taken beyond its typical limits.
You might notice that your child has heavily chewed nails or cuticles, and there may even be some cuts or marks along the tips of their fingers. Maybe they are experiencing soreness or even acute pain in their fingers, which might prevent them from playing, doing schoolwork, or interacting with the world around them.
Some kids will also bite their nails to the point where their fingers are bloody and require bandages thats when you know its a problem.
Furthermore, nail-biting isnt exactly sanitary, and some kids get sick more often than they should because of constantly touching surfaces before chewing on nails.
If there arent clear signs that nail-biting is causing harm, observe other habits that your child displays to determine if theres some underlying issue like anxiety or chronic stress.
In some cases, nail-biting is just one symptom among many, which could also include behaviors like hair pulling, skin picking, chewing on their clothing, or other indications. Maybe your child leans on nail-biting as a crutch in social situations like school or other activities. This might prevent them from forming connections and making friends.
How To Stop Children From Biting Their Nails
If your child bites their nails, they’re not the only one. Around 50% of children between 10 and 18 bite their nails at least occasionally, and for many kids, the habit starts even younger.
Its one of the most common nervous habits, a category that also includes hair-twisting, nose-picking, and thumb-sucking. Formally, it’s characterized as a body-focused repetitive behavior. While some kids bite their nails because they are fidgety, others don’t know what else to do when they feel anxious. Fingernail biting can be self-soothing.
In addition to being unpleasant to witness, nail-biting could do some damage to your childs teeth and nails. So, if your child is particularly aggressive when they’re gnawing on their nails, it may be important to address the issue with their dentist.
For the most part, nail-biting doesnt create any serious health issuesand it usually isn’t a sign of a deeper-rooted issue. Instead, it’s just a little nervous habit that often drives parents nuts.
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How To Properly Apply Nail Polish For Children Biting Their Nails And Is There Any Benefit From It
Many mothers use a special bitter varnish It is sold in a regular pharmacy or in cosmetic stores. The taste of the varnish is rather bitter, and there are no components in the composition that can harm the health of the child .
The varnish does not help everyone there are situations when the problem simply cannot be solved with one varnish. Remember first you need to find the reasonbad habit and only then, having eliminated this cause, eradicate the habit itself.
The varnish is used regularly with constant renewal after the next nibble, on average every three days Some parents, fearing unknown components of the varnish, use mustard, pepper, etc. instead.
What Are The Side Effects Of Nail
Possible physical side effects of nail-biting include damaged or disfigured nails and skin, skin infections, fungal infections, and mouth pain or tooth damage. Individuals who swallow the bitten nails may be at risk for stomach or intestinal infections as well. Because nails and fingers often carry bacteria or viruses, biting them may transmit pathogens into the body, potentially increasing the risk of internal infections or gastrointestinal problems.
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Why Do People Bite Their Nails
There’s why you start biting your nails, and then there’s why keep you doing it.
Nail biting almost always begins in childhood. It’s a behavior often associated with stress or anxiety, but it’s likely more complicated than that.
For instance, one theory is that it helps some people regulate their emotions or it feels like it does anyways.
Think of it this way:
- When you’re understimulated , biting your nails feels like it gives you something to do or feel satisfied about.
- When you’re overstimulated , biting your nails can be a distraction or temporary escape from some overwhelming emotion.
It’s still just a theory, but I think many a nail biter, myself included, might find some personal truth there.
So why our nails?
Well, for starters, it’s not always our nails. Some people pick at their skin, pull at their split ends, bite at their inner cheek, the list goes on. And there may be an evolutionary tie too a glance at your pet is the only reminder you need of animals’ compulsive grooming behaviors.
But then why do we bite our nails despite the sore fingers and damage caused?
That’s where it helps to understand how we form habits, even the “bad” ones.
And, no coincidence, it turns out that nail biting is a classic example of the formula that governs habit formation, which requires the following:
Habit acquired. The rest, as they say, is history.
What To Avoid Saying To Your Toddler
On the bad days when your toddler seems to be biting their nails nonstop, you might be tempted to do something that could make things worse.
Endless reprimands, long lectures, yelling, and punishments wont encourage your child to stop biting their nails. In fact, the negative attention may just make your child more determined to show you whos the boss of those nails.
Between the ages of 2 and 3 years old, your toddler is at the developmental stage of autonomy versus shame or doubt. At this me-do-it stage, your child is working toward independence. Toddlers who arent given the opportunity to behave with age-appropriate independence could begin to doubt their abilities, and this could lead to low self-esteem and feelings of shame.
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How To Stop Toddlers From Biting Their Nails
When it comes to a 2-year-old biting nails, sometimes the best option is to simply carry on as normal, and hopefully, this little habit will go away on its own. If not, then we have some other methods that may work for you below.
You could start by telling your little one about hygiene and some reasons why it’s not nice to put your fingers in your mouth and that we all have dirt and bacteria under our nails.
Keep their nails trimmed and smooth, so there won’t be much there for them to bite. Also make sure to gently file down any rough edges, as these can be very tempting to chew on!
Come up with a secret signal or code, so that when you spot your child nail-biting you can gently remind them to stop. This is great for when you need to discreetly remind them, without drawing attention to it or embarrassing them.
Use a fun reward system. You could give your little one a sticker for every half-day they manage without nail-biting, then once they get say, four stickers, they get to choose a treat. Don’t forget to heap on the praise, even if they don’t quite manage it, remind them that you are proud of them for trying.
Try offering your child a swap so they’ve got something else to keep their hands busy. Silly putty, a soft toy, a funny or cute stress ball, or finger puppets all give nervous hands something else to do. If you notice there are certain times when your child is most likely to bite their nails, for example, while watching TV or in the car, then start the swaps here.
Nail Biting Prevention And Habit Reversal Tips: How To Get Your Child To Stop
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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Breaking A Nailbiting Habit Is Never Easy
There were a few tears in the beginning, but soon those tears turned into smiles, and then happy giggles of triumph!
She was thrilled she wouldnt be a thumb-sucker for life!
The situation with my other daughter is a bit different.
Shes older a teenager.
I decided to approach her bad habit a little differently.
If you have a toddler with bad habits, we have another article for toddlers!
Think with me now.
What is something your child or teen loves?
Something they would do extra chores for?
Something they would wish or work for?
That is your secret weapon.
Experts Give The Following Recommendations For The Treatment Of Onychophagia:
And the main advice be attentive to your child Show how much you love him often. Take time in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to read a fairy tale to your child, go out of town, ask about your success in school or kindergarten. Create an atmosphere in the home that makes your child feel comfortable and relaxed. Eliminate irritantsthat make the child nervous. And gradually the bad habit will come to naught.
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Make Them Acknowledge It
This habit comes from the subconscious mind, and thus kids dont accept that they bite nails, even if the proof is right there on their fingers.
Talk to them and tell them that biting nails is a common habit. People do it often, but if they think they are doing it excessively, they must yearn to stop it.
Nail Biting Why Do Children Bite Their Nails
Onychophagia, or nail biting, is a common phenomenon in children. There are also many adults who bite their nails. But why do children bite their nails?
This common habit can start as early as the age of three. It is a habit that is very difficult to break. Thats why its not uncommon for adults to still do it.
However, we should try to prevent children from getting into the habit of biting their nails and/or swallowing their nails.
Although it is very common, nail biting can have unpleasant consequences in children. It can affect childrens development, oral health and confidence.
We will explain here why children bite their nails. We also discuss some simple ways to help them get rid of this habit.
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