Nail biting is very common in children during their early stages. Children usually start biting nails from around age five, but very few start it as early as age 3 or 2.
Nail biting is also known as chronic onychophagia. Though nail biting is a common oral habit, it can become strong and remain for the rest of the life if it is not tackled at a very early stage.
Nail biting for longer period can make damage to the grooves or cuticles and ragged nails.
Moreover, biting the nails too far can cause bleeding near the cuticles. Too much wetting of the fingers can develop into nail infections, warts in the region of the nail bed, nail deformity and even permanent nail damage. Infections to the nails can lead to dental problems.
The reasons for developing the oral habit of biting fingernails can be anything from a terrible habit to a noticeable sign of a mental or emotional disorder.
Stress, worry, hunger, anxiety, scared, boredom, improper trimming of nails, misery, inheritance, imitation of others, self-respect, and acquired behavior are recognized as the major causes.
How To Stop Nail Biting In Children?
Although the habit of nail biting is very common, some of the children are unaware of this habit. Some others know exactly what they are doing and unable to stop it. So, stopping the habit of nail biting needs parent to put a conscious effort purposely so as to keep the children away from biting their nails.
Tip#1: Make your child understand the effects of nail biting
Try to explain your child about the adverse effects of nail biting. Also, explain how dangerous nail-biting can be to the health: all the germs and dirt in the nails enters the body and cause nail infections as well as warts around the nails. Make too much of a little as long as it gets into their mind.
Tip#2: Keep track of your children’s activities
Observe your child carefully as ‘what makes your child to bite nails?’ ‘Is the child biting regularly or rarely?’ Once you identify these, it becomes easy for you to handle the condition. Rubbing the nails with something bitter can make the child frown and remove the fingers out immediately, whenever they make trials to bite the nails.
Tip#3: Keep your child/ren’s hands busy all time
Simply telling the child not to bite their nails is not enough. As said earlier, children bite their nails because of boredom. Keeping their hands busy all the time can divert them from biting the nails. So, always try to keep your child’s hand busy by offering something to occupy the hands with.
Tip#4: Control temptation
One of the reasons for nail biting in children is temptation. If you find temptation to be the main cause of nail biting in your kids, make your child to wear cotton gloves or finger puppets during those times.
Tip#5: Cut the nails
Cutting the nails of your child at regular intervals can help to keep the child away from nail biting. Remember that poor trimming of the nails makes your child to bite them. So keep a check on their nails and ensure that they are trimmed and smoothened properly.