When it comes to children, nail-biting is one of their most favorite pastimes. In fact, you may remember this from your own childhood. How many times did your parents struggle to make you quit this habit? Now that you are a parent, you might be able to better understand where they were coming from. After all, it becomes another ballgame once you notice your little ones chewing their nails. Have you lately been stressing about how to make your kids quit this unhealthy habit? Don’t worry, we are here with some tips that you can incorporate to make them stop.
Kids And Their Nail-Biting
Most parents refer to nail-biting as a bad habit, featuring in the list right next to thumb-sucking, nose-picking, among others. All of these habits are repetitive and are often associated with stress-relieving behaviors. But, nail-biting is rarely considered as a critical issue with any permanent damage (1). Most of the kids generally indulge in this habit at some point or the other. As per the statistics, around 45% of teens and 20-33% of kids revel in the nail-biting habit. But, no relevant studies have been conducted on adults, thus, there is almost no available data for them (2).
As a habit, nail-biting is more or less a mystery to all. So, it is not very certain why kids do it. But, there are several theories regarding the same. Here, we bring you some of these reasons (3):
- Stress or anxiety
- Mimicking it from a friend at school or some family member
How Can You Get Them To Quit?
First and foremost, nail-biting is a hard habit to quit so don’t get worried if it takes longer than you thought. Now, let’s discuss what you can perhaps do to prevent your kids from biting their nails:
1. Refrain From Punishing, Talk Instead
You may be tempted to either scold or punish your kids the moment you see them biting their nails. But, don’t do that. Instead, have a chat with them. And, try to understand why they are indulging in this habit in the first place. Figure out the trigger point and then involve your children in the plan to resolve this problem. Perhaps, make it sound like a game or a “secret” mission. But, if they are old enough, try and make them understand the cons of biting their nails such as misshapen nails or social perceptions. And, in fact, you can also make an effort to come up with a solution together!
2. Identify What Started It
For some kids, biting their nails can be a way to cope with school stress. And, for others, it can be just boredom. Is this habit old? Does it have any trigger such as shyness or hunger? If you figure out what the root cause is, it might become easier to find a solution for it. You can also take your partner’s help to determine if there is any set pattern.
3. Create A Distraction
If your kids are young, it might be relatively easier to distract them from biting their nails. Maybe, give them some healthy snack to munch on or hand them over a new toy. So, the moment you see your little ones going for their nails, think of a fun activity and just chip it in as a suggestion. And, see how miraculously this trick works!
4. Motivate The Older Ones
Perhaps, your older kids already want to quit this habit. Here, you can just enable them to achieve their goal. You can consider buying them a squeeze ball to keep their hands busy or just go for the gloves. Some older teenagers can also apply a bitter-flavored nail polish to discourage themselves from chewing on it.
Do you have any other tips on your mind that can help out the fellow moms? If yes, please share with us in the comments section below!