A lot of people bite their nails. Despite it’s pretty gross, it is challenging to get rid of. Especially if kids exhibit this habit. Nail biting in children may seem harmless, but it can damage the surrounding tissue and the cuticle. In fact, your child may also experience some pain and have abnormal looking nails, which can even result in fungal infections. And if you don’t take action to discourage kids from chewing their nails, this habit can outgrow with age.
Nail biting is mostly unconscious and can be stopped. Health Shots got in touch with Dr Vrushali Bichkar, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Lullanagar, Pune, who shared some of the best ways to stop children biting their nails. Before the solution, let’s read about what causes nail biting in children.
3 causes of nail biting in children:
1. Out of boredom
Did you know if your child is bored, then he or she can start biting nails as there is nothing else to do. Slowly, the child will do it on a regular basis, and this habit is unhealthy. Parents should discourage their children from doing so.
2. To get that much-needed relief
Nail biting may be due to any kind of stress (when parents refuse to get a toy or chocolate).
3. To fall asleep
There are many kids who bite their nails instead of sucking their thumbs to fall asleep. But kids should not be allowed to bite their nails.
7 tips to stop children’s nail biting habit:
1. Make them aware of the bad habit
If your child is old enough, say between the age of 5 and 6, and they have a habit of chewing their nails, gently explain to them that this is a bad habit. To let them know and put an end to their habit, give them a touch on the shoulder or use a secret code that only the two of you know. This will assist in kicking the habit.
2. Trim his or her nails
Your toddler can’t bite nails when they are trimmed. So, try to keep the nails short. This will make sure that the bacteria and dirt under the nails don’t get into your toddler’s body and lead to many health issues.
3. Clam down the child
If your child bites nails more often due to stress, then offer them a rubber ball, or even a piece of soft fabric to hold to avoid nail biting. Apart from this, talk to your child and try to find the source of stress.
4. Find a substitute
Whenever you see your children biting their nails, offer an alternative. An alternative can be foods that are healthy. You can also help them indulge in any indoor or outdoor activities so that their hands will get busy with other good options.
5. Reward your child
Reward him/her for not biting their nails. This will be helpful in motivating them to keep them away from that bad habit.
6. Shift your children’s attention
Just shift the child’s attention from colouring, playing games, or dancing when the child is bored instead of nail biting. Encourage the child to take up a new activity or learn a new skill. Keep the children engaged.
7. Get support
If you haven’t yet figured out how to stop your child from biting their nails, let your child’s nursery or school also know what they are doing at home. Your child will immediately remember not to bite their nails while you are not around if you do this.
Most parents relish employing strategies like using nail paint with a bitter taste. If your child is not at ease with it, don’t try it. Your kids could believe they are being punished as a result. In fact, your kids may find it challenging to eat some foods due to the foul taste and odor of nail paint.