Nail biting is one of the bad habits in children. The best but most difficult way to stop nail biting is to find the reason for biting nails and resolve it. Some kids bite nails out of stress, boredom, curiosity or to comfort themselves in a tight situation. Sometimes the nail biting carries into adulthood too and it’s better to curtail it when they are young. This bad habit in toddlers can easily be prevented with some home remedies and treatment.
Following are the tips to prevent nail biting in children:
- Distract the toddler’s mind– If it’s possible to determine when the toddler generally bites the nails, then at such moments they could be distracted. For example if it’s during a long journey, they could be given something to fiddle with their hands rather bite nails.
- If the nail biting is stress related such as watching certain television programmes or reading a book or attending a new play group or moving to a new house, then the stress factor should be addressed immediately to avoid it being carried over to adulthood.
- If nail biting is due to boredom then the parents should ensure that such children always kept occupied. If their concentration is somewhere else then they wouldn’t think of nail biting.
- Discourage nail biting– If the fingers are coated with bitter flavoured solution then they would not bite them. But this has been found effective for older kids and not toddlers.
- If the nails are trimmed of regularly, they may not have anything to bite
- Pediatrician’s help should be taken if the child indulges in self destructive behaviour such as biting nails and pulling out hair etc. This may be due to stress.
- Parents should not try to persuade the child to give up nail biting by promising them incentives or talking to too much about it. This would mean that child gets attention and no child would mind getting even negative attention.
- Showering praises on the children when they don’t bite nails and it would boost up their self esteem.
- Sometimes it’s best to leave the nail biting habit as it’s in the toddler hood. It might fade off naturally. Even if it continues into school going age, then the peer pressure would force the child to quit it. Always peers have greater impact on the child than the parents.
Finally, each child is different and what works on one may not work on another. Parents would have to try out various options depending on the nature of the child.