How to stop your child from biting his nails?

How to stop your child from biting his nails?

Nail biting is one of the most seen nervous habits any child has. Other nervous habits include nose picking, thumb-sucking, etc. Teething toddlers usually start biting nails to relieve their gums. But pre-schoolers bite their nails when they are overwhelmed with emotions.

This is an easy way for them to cope with the problem they face. Biting usually occurs when children are angry with something or sometimes unconsciously.

There are a number of other reasons for your child to bite nails, such as boredom, curiosity, relief, anger because of long separation from the people whom he loves, habit or imitation (when your child observes it from her parents or other elderly persons who have this habit of biting nails). Also, if you were to bite nails as a child then there are chances that these genes might get passed on to your child and thus, he ends up biting nails too.

Nail-biting might seem to be an annoying habit but it is harmless. Most children discontinue it when they realize it is annoying, although some children carry on this habit to their teenage and adulthood. Children feel anxious while they grow up and it is acceptable if your child bites unconsciously as a response to certain situations; it should be understood as their way of coping.

However, if you observe your child biting nails excessively and you would like to stop it, without highlighting the word, deal with the child.

Strategies to help your child from biting nails:

Most of the children have become nail-biters unconsciously. So, it becomes a parent’s duty to make them aware of their habit or completely ignore which is rather very important.  You could take videos and pictures to show them what they do. As they realize they gradually tend to minimize biting nails. Do not punish them or nag about it.

Talk to your child about nail-biting:

The first and foremost thing that a parent should do is to know the underlying cause of this behaviour or habit. Most often children bite nails due to some fear or anger. So, it is advised to talk to them about it and comfort them.

Pre-schoolers might face this due to conflicts in the family or because he has to join a new school or because of long separation from someone whom they loved. Take time to talk to them about the things he is worried about and assure them that they can come up. Make sure that you will gently advise them to stop biting nails.

Cut your child’s nails regularly:

Clipping their nails regularly can lessen the nail’s surface giving them no way to bite nails. You can also file their nails after clipping which leaves no sharp or rough edges that will urge them to bite nails. In the case of girls, you can take them to salons to get their nails done. This will make them admire their nails more than their urge to bite them.

Cut your child’s nails regularly

Pick a silent sign between the two of you that will tell her to stop biting. Just try to notify her every time you see her biting nails.

Find an alternative: Give him something healthy so that your child will be able to put it into his mouth. For an older child, it might be regular snacking on crunchy items. Make sure you don’t alternate nail-biting for sugary snacks or else you will be adding one bad habit for another.

Divert your child’s focus on something else

Divert your child’s focus on something else:

Suggest your child other alternatives that can help him busy with his fingers. Gift him a stress ball or a slime box or a stone that they can play with when they feel like biting. Help your child with his favourite activities like arts & crafts or playing an instrument or playing outdoor games.

Rewarding his positive behaviour: Children are inclined to do anything that will bring them gifts, attention or appreciation. When you observe your child gradually minimizing this bad habit of his, give him rewards like buying their favourite chocolates or toys or taking them to their favourite place. Once you start rewarding him, they will want it more thus they will habituate to stop biting their nails.

Book a manicure: Though your son will not like this idea, your daughter might be too excited to get her nails done once they’ve grown out a bit. Not only can it become parent-child bonding time, but the compliments she will get on her beautiful nails might discourage her from biting.

Bite-averting Nail polish:

In case any of the above does not seem to effectively work, then try using bite-averting nail polish. These nail-polish tastes bitter and gives a little burn to your tongue. These are child-safe liquids that are available in medical stores or apply neem paste to his nails during the night when asleep so that he will not bite because of the bitter taste. Its bitter taste can help your child to minimize this habit of biting nails.

Nail polish

Strategies to help your child from biting nails

Talk to your child about nail-biting

Cut your child’s nails regularly

Nail biting is one of the most seen nervous habits any child has

There are a number of other reasons for your child to bite nails

Most of the children have become nail-biters unconsciously


Malathi A Ganesh is a B. Com Graduate, NTT, M.A (Lit), PGDEA (PG in Education Administration), PGDCA (PG Diploma in Computer Application), DTE (Diploma in Teaching English), ICEPT (International Certificate in Education Preschool Teaching) from Singapore and B. Ed. She has been in the field of education for the past 20 years and has an experience of running her own pre-school She is the Founder & Director Academics of Smartkidz Educare India Pvt Ltd with 275+ play schools Pan India. She is an Educationist and a Child Psychologists by profession who wants to fulfill her dream of giving Quality Education to children in their earlier years. She is also into conducting positive parenting workshops, which talks about effective child rearing. She has conducted numerous parenting workshops in all her pre schools, schools and MNC’s.

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