If your child has the habit of biting his/her nails, then you are not the only parent who is worried. The condition of nail biting in children is medically termed as onychopagia. It is one of those common habits that affect most of children across the world.
According to medical estimates, about 50% children aged between 10 and 18 years have the habit of biting their nails. Though this habit can be quite annoying, it is important for you, as a parent, to understand why your child does it.
What causes nail biting in children?
Kids tend to bite their nails owing to various reasons, such as stress, anxiety, comfort or boredom. Here are the most common reasons that may have led your child to bite his nails:
1. To Feel Comforted:
The reflex of your baby can make him to put the finger in his mouth in order to get a comforting feeling. This habit, sometimes, continues in kids even after they grow. This is why your toddler or preschooler might bite his nails, as he finds comfort through this habit.
You will find your kid indulging in this habit when he is bored. It could also be common when he is not doing any work with his hands, such as those times when he is watching TV, attending classes, etc.
3. Stress And Anxiety:
Your child will bite his nails if there are any unpleasant situations in his surroundings, for example, at home or at school. These might trigger stress or anxiety in your child. There can be a number of issues such as:
-Quarrels between parents or family members
-Loss of a grandparent or close relative
-Relocating to a new home
-Joining a new school
-Getting bullied in class
-Pressure to perform well in class
-Getting punished or scolded
Your habits too, would be inhibited in your children through your genes. If you had the habit of biting nails during your childhood, chances are your child too will develop the same habit.
5. Imitating Other’s Habits:
Children tend to imitate the habit of biting nails when they see their sibling or other members in the family doing the same. When your child copies the same habit of a family member, it gives hi a sense of “feel good” and feeling like a grown up.
How To Stop Nail Biting in Children?
Though it can be extremely frustrating, you need to refrain from scolding or punishing your child for nail biting. Here are some useful ways through which your kid can bid goodbye to nail biting habit in children:
1. Talk To Your Child:
Talk to your child to know why he has this habit. If there is any particular reason he does it, such as boredom or stress, discuss with him and eliminate the cause.
2. Germs and Diseases
Let your child know that there might be germs hiding beneath the nails and that he needs to stop the habit immediately. Help your child understand that the disease causing germs can enter his body easily when he bites the nails and can make him fall sick.
3. Offer reward
Enter an agreement with your kid that you will be checking his nails every day and would reward him if he refrains from nail biting. Offer him a reward like a special dish during dinner or his favourite homemade dessert.
4. Get A Mini Manicure:
Get your kid a mini manicure and look at her nails after the session and praise how neat they look. Also tell her that it was looking very shabby previously when she was biting it. This will stop her from biting her nails again.
5. Bitter Taste Treatment:
You can find many liquids available at medical stores to avoid kids biting nails habit. Grab one of these products and apply it on your kid’s nails. The bitter taste is the best reminder for your kid to stop biting.
Understanding why your child bites his nails will help you remove the causes, and the habit.