Tips for parents to prevent nail biting in kids | Health

Nail biting is very common in children just like other habits such as head banging, body rocking, and thumb sucking. However, if left untreated, nail biting can last a lot longer than other behaviours, even for the rest of one’s life. These are frequently the kinds of self-soothing behaviours that kids naturally develop. They may bite their nails out of curiosity, boredom, stress alleviation, habit, or mimicry. Nail biting could harm your child’s teeth and nails in addition to being unpleasant to observe. Therefore, it may be crucial to discuss the matter with your child’s dentist if they exhibit particularly violent behaviour when biting their nails. (Also read: Understanding fussy eating habits of kids: Expert shares inputs )

According to Lina, Foot Health Practitioner, “Like adults, children also have their own stresses, uncomfortable things, unpleasant emotions etc. Only to us, adults do they seem childish and incomprehensible, but for a child, given their age, these are important, difficult, and even depressing problems. To them, like us, children want to get rid of these issues, but usually don’t know how to do it. There are many ways to see how a child is anxious, stressed or unhappy. They usually start to twist or pull their hair, grind their teeth, can’t sleep during the night, in some cases, they even wet their bed, and the most common one is a so-called “nerve habit” – nail-biting”

There are several types:

  • Unconscious biting- it is when your child bites his/her nails while watching TV or out of boredom.
  • Destructive biting– it is when you need to start paying attention if his or her fingertips are full of cuts and bloody, the nail looks damaged, the cuticles are stinging and painful, the visible wounds on the nail, the nail is uneven, bumpy, peeling and looks unhealthy.

Pediatricians, Dr. Sami and Dr. Ana, suggested tips to reduce nail biting in kids on their Instagram account.

  • Don’t punish or draw attention to it- this can sometimes make it worse and cause more tension, and make them do the habit more. Try to ignore it and have patience.
  • Try to keep their nails short– this lessens the surface area under their nails and makes it more difficult to bite.
  • Find a substitute – you can try to use a healthy snack as a substitute for nail biting. You can also try a fidget toy or stress ball or chewing gum to keep them busy.
  • Keep your child occupied – your kid may be bored and have nothing else to do but nibble their nails. Give your kids new activities that can keep them distracted from this habit.
  • Behavior modification- If it still persists, try behavior modification. If you can identify why they are doing it. Try to observe their behaviour and see if they are nervous, anxious, annoyed, stressed or just bored. After finding the cause then you can help them work through the cause.

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