Toddlers and even grownups develop the habit of biting nails whenever they are in some trouble or are stressed out or simply when they are bored. Nail biting is a very common habit that can develop in any person. It is a habit which gets developed without even the person himself knowing about it. Your child might be watching some horror movie and suddenly would have started biting his nails. Also when he/ she are narrating you something new or different about their class or school, you might suddenly see them biting their nails. It is a very normal reaction by any person or a child. It helps them deal with the pressure of stress, anxiety, excitement or curiosity. It may become a topic of concern and worry when it becomes a routine for your child. Here are few points on the causes and remedies for this unconscious but unhealthy habit.
Causes of Toddler Nail Biting
Boredom or Curiousness
Children tend to get bored very fast. They always want something new to happen around them. They are always curious to know and find out new things. This feeling of boredom and curiousness may also develop the habit of biting nails among them. In this case there is nothing to get worried as the habit will disappear with time.
Nail biting is a very common habit among the toddlers and falls in line of other habits like nose picking, hair twisting and tooth grinding which kids develop to get rid of their nervousness and irritation. Almost all the kids develop such a habit before preschool.
Tension And Anxiety
Nail biting is often taken up by children to get rid of some tension or anxiety that they are living with. While taking the first steps towards the world outside, all kids tend to get scared and anxious. The first day of school, feeling shy in gatherings, learning something new in school are the common triggers. But, at times some serious problems at home or school may also be concerning them. Otherwise there is no need to worry if your child is biting his/ her nail because it is just their way to get away from their small tensions.
Negative Effects Of Nail Biting
Nail biting can lead to red, painful fingertips. Your child may bite the nail so hard that it may swell up the fingertip which can turn out to be very painful and start bleeding.
Nail biting transfers germs from the nails to the mouth and this can lead to various infections. Even bacteria from the mouth can get transferred to the skin through nails.
Deformed Nail Bed
Nail bed tends to get deformed due to continuous nail biting. It may cause the newly grown nails to look odd and out of shape.
Biting nails can result in broken or chipped front teeth. It may also transfer germs to the mouth which may cause cavities in the gums.
Your child while biting his/ her nail may also pull off the skin from above the nail bed, called the cuticle. Cuticle damage may cause bleeding and painful nail bed.
Nail biting may be a sign of great anxiety in a person. It can also cause self-consciousness and embarrassment in a person.
How to Stop Nails Biting in Toddlers
If you can determine and you know when your child will bite his/ her nails, while watching TV for example, find out something that will distract them from biting their nails. Give them some toys in hand or play with them so that their attention is diverted. This will prevent them from biting their nails.
Do Not Overreact
You are tired with your kid�s habit and start inveigling and cajoling your kid. Offering them options like painting their nails, telling them every now and then that their habit is disgusting will only make the matters worse. Kids love attention, negative or positive, and they measure attention by quantity and not quality.
Take Advice From Your Pediatrician
Taking advice from your pediatrician is a good option. You may be told that the habit will fade away with time, but mention smallest details like if their finger bleeds and so on. This will help the pediatrician in judging the anxiety level in your child.
Make The Habit Less Tempting
Cut your baby�s nails and keep them clean always. This will leave them with no option but to refrain from biting their nails. There are products available that if brushed on, leave a bitter taste which lasts for days together. This discourages the little ones to opt for biting. However parents are happy with such products but, experts consider them to be harmful for use.
Make Your Child Aware Of Their Habit
Encourage your child to be aware of his/ her bad habit. Don�t forget to give quite, secret reminders if they forget: a light pat on the arm, or some eye movement. This will make them conscious of what they are doing.
Don�t Scold Or Punish
The first reaction from a parent, if they see their child biting his/ her nail is to scold or punish them. Nail biting like any other habit is unconsciously adapted. May be your child doesn�t even know they are biting their nails. Nagging them or punishing them at that time will not serve any purpose. Speak to them in an understanding and compassionate way and make them understand that even though unconscious, biting nail is a bad habit and that you can�t watch them doing so. This understanding gesture on your side will help them make an effort to get rid of their habit.
Praise Your Child
Praise your child if they are not biting their nails. Encourage them by rewarding them, if possible. Appreciate their efforts and make sure they continue to show such positive attitude towards you whenever asked for.