How To Stop Fingernail Biting In Kids

Nail BitingNail biting is a very common habit in kids, and it can be a very annoying one for parents. Not only does biting the nails expose your child to unnecessary germs, it is also a habit that can really wear on parents nerves, but the most common question is “why do they do it?”

No one really knows the answer. It seems that nail biting is one of those common childhood habits that annoys the heck out of parents: right up there with nose picking, hair pulling, and thumb sucking.

Kids might bite their nails because they are feeling anxious or nervous, but they might also just do it because they are bored or they just want to see what will happen. So, let’s move on to the more pressing question: How in the world do you make them stop!?

First of all, sit down with your child and talk to them about it. Do they know why they are biting their nails? Your child might be able to tell you that they bite their nails when they are feeling nervous at school or at a party or playdate. It’s also likely that your child has no idea why they are biting their nails, so don’t expect a straight answer. It might help to try to enlist family members, teachers, babysitters to help you watch for triggers that cause your child to bite their nails. It is a good idea to have a talk about breaking bad habits, or maybe try some simple and fun hypnosis with your child to try and identify the root cause of the problem on why your child is biting their nails.

How To Stop Fingernail Biting In Children

If it’s time to physically try to break the bad habit, start small. Try looking for something to distract them from biting their nails, for example getting them involved with some hands on activity is a good start to breaking the habit. Alternatively, some parents give their children chewing gums to keep them from wanting their fingers in their mouth.

To stop fingernail biting in kids, one can also try invent a secret code like scratching your arm or rubbing your nose, or a “code word” like “pickles” or “eskimo”, to help your children realize when they are doing it. That way they can become aware of what they are doing and stop it in it’s tracks!

Also try to maybe use bandaids around the nails or stickers as a visual reminder for them to keep those fingers out of their mouth. You can also find some over the counter nail biting prevention products. Most of them are like nail polish but have a bad taste that will make sure your kids don’t bite their nails when that stuff is on there! Some of them contain ingredients like cayenne pepper so use with caution on young children.

Another great option is developing a rewards chart so your child gets a special treat or reward when they go for a set period of time without nail biting. Also try keeping your child’s nails neat and trimmed, and bragging on how nice they look. This could motivate him or her to stop.

For the most part, nail biting is just annoying but not harmful. However, if your child’s nails become bloody or severely broken, you might want to talk with your doctor to see if they have any additional tips for your child.

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  1. Mandy Allen says

    Great article, thanks. I used to bite my nails and am now sure it was nerves, however I don’t know if I’d have been able to tell anyone that at the time as I don’t know that I’d have identified that then. Once you start I think it’s really hard to stop these habits.


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