Nail biting is a common and relatively innocuous behaviour that most youngsters develop as they become older. Most children grow out of this behaviour on their own, but some persist into their teens and adulthood. Between the ages of 10 and 18, over half of all youngsters bite their nails. Despite the fact that it is an irritating habit, it is up to the parents to figure out what is causing it and how to help their children overcome it.
Causes of Nail Biting in Kids
Anxiety, worry, boredom, and comfort are among reasons why children bite their nails. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of children chewing their nails:
Relieve Anxiety and Stress: Children’s nail-biting is triggered by stressful or anxious situations at home or at school. There are a variety of stressful events that might make people nervous, including:
- Family feuds or parent-child quarrels
- The death of a close relative or a family member
- Relocating to a new city or a new residence
- Getting into a new school
- Bullying by other children
- The pressure to succeed in school or athletics
Boredom: When children are bored or doing something repetitive, they bite their nails. It’s also visible when they’re not doing anything and have their hands free, such as when they’re watching TV or in class.
For Comfort: It is natural for infants and toddlers to suck their thumbs as a kind of self-soothing. It gives them a sense of security while they’re playing or alone. Thumb-sucking is a modified type of nail-biting that develops as children get older. As a result, youngsters and even teens bite their nails for comfort.
Imitating Other People’s Habits: Children immediately pick up on other people’s behaviours. Nail biting is an example of a frequent behaviour that children mimic when they observe another sibling or family member doing it.
How to Stop Nail Biting
Trim Their Nails Regularly
Trimming their nails can help them resist the desire to bite them. Every week, clip and file their nails to remove any rough edges that could encourage them to chew on them. Girls can get their nails done in a salon to make them shine and appear nice. Her nails will be pampered and tended to, which may prevent her from biting them again.
Anxiety may be soothed.
Take time to talk to your child if you find that he chews his nails more often when he is upset or anxious about matters like changing schools, moving to a new area, or family disputes. Find a moment when he is in a good mood and connect with him to talk about the things that are bothering him.
Make Them Aware of the Habit
Nail biting is a habit that is mainly unconscious. Most of the time, your child will be unaware that they are doing it and will be shocked when you shout at them to stop. Talk to your child about what makes them bite their nails and how you may remind them of it in a non-obtrusive way when they do it. This is especially helpful when done subtly in public, where they may be humiliated. It’s a good idea to start with a touch on the shoulder or a code phrase that only the two of you know.
The Bitter Taste Trick
In medical stores, there are child-safe liquids designed to help youngsters stop biting their nails. You may get a liquid from your child’s pediatrician and apply it to their nails. Their bitter flavor serves as a gentle reminder to quit biting their nails.
Reward Positive Behavior
Appreciate and encourage your child when you observe them making progress in the correct direction by channeling their worry in better ways. As a reward, take them out for ice cream, just the two of you, or get them a new toy they’ve been eyeing. Children have a natural desire to please their parents and seek their attention. As a result, complimenting their awareness in terms of their behaviors or encouraging them to develop healthier ones motivates them to continue doing so.