Breaking Your Child of the Habit of Nail Biting

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Nail biting is a problem that plagues many children.  But before a parent attempts to break their child of this habit, it is important to figure out why they bite their nails.  There are several reasons why children bite their nails, chiefly out of curiosity, boredom, and stress relief, all of these leading to it becoming a force of habit.  First the parent must aid in the relief of the child’s anxieties, and then break the habit.

If you are vigilant, and really talk to your child, you should be able to ascertain the root of their stress.  Often times, the child’s stress is merely the average stress that comes with growing up, but that stress, while common, should not be minimized, their feelings should be taken into account.  If your child feels minimized, they won’t be on board with trying to break the habit, as it is something that cannot be forced on them.

Janis Keyser, co-author of Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, gives the following advice, “Our initial response when children do something that worries us is to try to stop the behavior, and that’s fine as a long-term goal, before you can do that, though, it’s essential that you deal with the underlying causes of the behavior and think about whether there’s stress in your child’s life that you need to address.”

In many cases, when nail biting is happening due to your everyday stress of growing up, your child will stop biting on their own, but if that is not the case, after you discuss their anxieties, you must then address the habit itself.

As nail biting is almost always an unconscious activity, you must not nag or punish.  Again, if your child is not on board, it is not going to happen, you must be patient.

The first step is getting your child to recognize how often they actually bite their nails.  A good method is to work out a signal between the two of you, a word or a gesture, such as a tap on the shoulder that you can do whenever they bite.  As the habit starts to become bitter tasting nail solution, just make sure you check the ingredients, that it doesn’t contain anything that may sting if your child rubs their eyes.

This may be a very long process; it may take a lot of time and patience.  Throughout the process, be sure to keep your child’s nails trimmed, so that the temptation will not be so great, and also keep the space under your child’s nails clean to avoid infection.

Good luck!

About the Author:

Kate is a proud mother and wife, as well as the author of The Book Buff.  To learn more about her, check her out at http://www.thebookbuff.blogspot.com

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