Why Do Kids Bite Their Nails? 4-Must Try Ways to Stop Nail Biting!

Are you worried about your child’s nail-biting habits? If so, you are not alone. According to research, 50% of kids and teenagers bite their nails occasionally or as a habit. Kids adopt many practices when they are young such as thumb sucking, fingers and hair twisting, and nose-picking. Mostly, these are body-focused repetitive behaviors that kids adopt for self-soothing. Unfortunately, nail-biting is disgusting and harmful to your kid’s health.

Most parents wonder about “why do kids bite their nails?” Kids bite their nails when they are anxious, curious, or bored. Often, they watch other kids doing so and imitate them. They also bite nails to cope with stress in school. Often, kids with mental disorders also have nail-biting habits.

If you are desperate to know why kids bite their nails and how to stop them from doing so, this post is for you. Read it till the end and discover all the possible solutions to nail-biting.

3 Reasons for Why Does My Child Bite His Fingernails?

cute toddler

Nail-biting is an unconscious behavior, and you can’t stop your child by nagging or punishing him. Your child may leave this habit on its own, but it can go longer than you think. However, you can help your kids in simple ways to quit this habit.

Firstly, let’s discuss the reasons for nail-biting in kids. Have a look below.

To Cope Anxiety: Whenever you notice repetitive behavior in your kids, your first goal should be to stop them. It doesn’t mean to repeat the same sentence like stop it while he is biting nails; instead, try to sort out the reason that is disturbing him. Talk to him politely and investigate the cause. Stress is by far a common reason for nail-biting in kids. For example, if someone is bullying them at school or toilet training issues, performance in studies-all these reasons can stress out a child, and he starts self-soothing activities unconsciously.

To imitate others: Most children’s repetitive habits are the learned behaviors they adopt by imitating others. For example, if your child has seen others doing so, he will be curious and bite nails in curiosity to check how it feels. Often, they quit soon or keep going with it. The good news is, imitative behaviors are easy to address if you intervene early.

To pass the time: Often, kids have nothing to do; they start a nail-biting unconsciously, but later it becomes a habit that is hard to quit.

Is Biting Your Nails a Mental Disorder?

toddler nail

Nail-biting might be a mental disorder if it causes physical harm and psychological distress. Often, people adopt nail-biting as an occasional thing. According to health professionals and psychologists, nail-biting is a type of body-focused-repetitive behavior because it is hard to quit on its own. Chronic nail-biting is called onychophagia, and its cause is still unknown.

Is Biting Nails A Symptom Of ADHD?

In medical terms, severe nail-biting is known as onychophagia. Kids with ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, separation anxiety disorder, Tourette syndrome have onychophagia as well. In ADHD, kids are hyperactive and have difficulty paying attention. They adopt several repetitive behaviors, and among them, nail-biting can be a symptom.

How Can I Stop My Child from Biting His Nails?

baby girl eating

Some parents ignore when they find their kids biting nails. But for some parents, it is hard to ignore such behaviors. Kids can suffer health issues such as abdominal discomfort, dental health, depression, shame, low self-esteem, and damage to nail cuticles and skin around the nails.

The methods of stopping your child from biting his nails are here.

Keep your child busy: Distraction is a good way to divert your child’s attention while biting nails. Keep him engaged in something productive. For small kids, offer them a healthy snack to nibble on. To keep their fingers active, use a fidget toy, a small stress ball or anything that allows them to focus on their hands. Using gloves or mittens for small kids when they usually bite nails, such as while watching television, might also help.

Don’t Punish: Nail-biting is an unconscious behavior for most kids, so you can’t discourage it by punishing. You can set reasonable rules such as “no nail-biting at the dinner table.’ It will help make a child more conscious at the dinner table.

Make your child aware of their habit: Often, kids are not even aware when they bite nails. Talk to them and create self-awareness about this habit. If they want to quit, help them. Set some code words as a reminder and a slight pinch when they are just bothering to put fingers in their mouth.

Practice good hygiene: Keep your child’s nails trimmed and wash their hands several times daily. It will reduce the chances of bacterial infections. Often, kids resist naturally biting their nails when they feel pain due to over-biting. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you understand why kids bite their nails. No doubt, nail-biting is unpleasant to witness. Therefore, as a parent, you should try your best to stop your child from biting his nails. The methods mentioned in the article will help prevent this habit in your child.

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