7 ways to stop the habit of nail biting in children

Lots of people bite their nails. Although it is quite gross, it is difficult to get rid of. Especially if children exhibit this habit. Nail biting in children may seem harmless, but it can damage the surrounding tissues and the cuticle. In fact, your child may also experience pain and have abnormal looking nails, which can even lead to fungal infections. And if you don’t take steps to discourage children from biting their nails, this habit can subside as they age.

Nail biting is mostly unconscious and can be stopped. Health Shots contacted Dr. Vrushali Bichkar, Consultant Pediatrician and Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Lullanagar, Pune who shared some of the best ways to prevent children from biting their nails. Before the solution, let’s read what causes nail biting in children.

You can help your child avoid this habit. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

3 causes of nail biting in children:

1. Out of boredom

Did you know that if your child is bored, he may start biting his nails because there is nothing else to do. Slowly the child will do it steadily, and this habit is unhealthy. Parents should discourage their children from doing so.

2. To get much-needed relief

Nail biting can be due to any kind of stress (when parents refuse to have a toy or a chocolate).

3. Fall asleep

There are many children who bite their nails instead of sucking their thumbs to fall asleep. But children should not be allowed to bite their nails.

7 tips to stop kids nail biting habit:

1. Make them aware of the bad habit

If your child is old enough, say between 5 and 6 years old, and has a habit of biting his nails, gently explain to him that it is a bad habit. To let him know and break the habit, give him a pat on the shoulder or use a secret code that only the two of you know. It will help you get rid of this habit.

nail biting habit in children
Be sure to communicate well with your child. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Cut his nails

Your little one can’t bite their nails when they’re trimmed. So try to keep the fingernails short. This will ensure that bacteria and dirt under the fingernails do not enter your little one’s body and lead to many health problems.

3. Calm the child

If your child is biting their nails more often due to stress, then offer them a rubber ball or even a piece of soft cloth to hold to prevent biting their nails. Other than that, talk to your child and try to find the source of the stress.

4. Find a replacement

Whenever you see your children biting their nails, offer an alternative. An alternative can be healthy foods. You can also help them indulge in any indoor or outdoor activities so that their hands are occupied with other good options.

5. Reward your child

Reward him for not biting his nails. This will be helpful in motivating them to get away from this bad habit.

6. Shift your children’s attention

Simply shift the child’s attention from coloring, playing or dancing when bored instead of biting their nails. Encourage the child to take up a new activity or learn a new skill. Keep the kids engaged.

nail biting habit in children
Engage in games and activities with your child. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Get help

If you haven’t yet figured out how to prevent your child from biting their nails, also let your child’s nursery or school know what they are doing at home. Your child will immediately remember not to bite their nails while you’re away if you do.

Most parents like to use strategies like using bitter-tasting nail polish. If your child is not comfortable with it, don’t try it. Your children may believe they are being punished accordingly. In fact, your kids may find it hard to eat certain foods because of the bad taste and smell of nail paint.

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