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Can You Stop Your Kid From Biting His Nails?

How To Break The Bad Habit Of Nail Biting

Take a look at the hands of kids at your local park or preschool, and you'll see that nail biting is a common habit. Many parents think of it as a nervous habit and grow concerned that their nail-biting child is anxious about something, but the truth is that children bite their nails for a variety of reasons, not just stress. A nail-biter might be bored, imitating other kids, making a transition from thumb sucking, or simply have poorly trimmed nails.

If you can watch your child and discern common times or situations during which he bites his nails, then you can help him stop it. If he's biting his nails while riding in the car or sitting in church, boredom might be the cause. Try giving him a small toy to play with instead.

Nagging, reminding, scolding, or ridiculing won't stop your child from biting his nails, says Marilyn Hein, M.D., a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. As with so many "bad" behaviors, leading by example can work well. Discourage older siblings from biting their nails, and if you bite your nails, practice what you preach!

Encourage your preschooler to wash his hands often, considering they are going to be in his mouth a great deal. Otherwise, be patient: The majority of kids outgrow the habit on their own.

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