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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Nail Biting
mamac 04:54 PM 02-16-2013
The "hands in mouth" thread got me thinking about my own ds. He has been a nail biter since he was 2 years old. At around 3, he stopped for a short period of time to where I could actually clip his nails. (Probably less than a year.) I thought maybe he had outgrown it but since then he has been biting his nails constantly. (He is 5 1/2 now) I notice he does it mostly when he is watching tv. I remind him to stop whenever I see him but he must be doing it in school as well because there has been no growth whatsoever. He says he wants to stop but he doesn't want to try the yucky tasting nail polish to remind him not to bite. I tried the rubber band around the wrist trick until I tried it myself and found that it hurts like he77. It is driving me nuts because I don't know how to get him to stop! Hubby is a nail biter, too, and I have long since given up on him. I think it's SO gross!

Any suggestions other than to keep him in mittens?
MamaBearCanada 06:50 PM 02-16-2013
If it's mainly when he's watching TV he probably isn't aware he's doing it and it's just his way to fidget like other people tap a pencil or twirl their hair. Could you give him something else to occupy his hand but that he doesn't have to think about too much like squeezing a stress ball or a hand strengthened, a small toys to play with or even a smooth rock to roll/hold. Perhaps if you don't mind giving him gum let him have that to help the urge to chew.

I used to be a thumbsucker and there were many times my thumb was in my mouth and I didn't realize until my mother told me to stop sucking my thumb.
mema 08:02 PM 02-16-2013
No advice here. I have a nail biter too. Ds is 12 and started around age 5-picked it up at a daycare that he went to-the whole family did it. I have only got him to stop for a month in that 7 years, and that was by bribing him with a doughnut every Saturday if I had to trim his nails. I have given up on trying to get him to quit. Every time I say anything to him, all I get is attitude, so I figure there is worse things.
Starburst 09:09 PM 02-16-2013
I am a nail bitter too- been one since as long as I can remember. I bite my cuticles sometimes too and it does cause inflamation and hang-nails (I have one right now ). I am also a snapper/cracker/popper (I snap/crack/pop all my joints regularly), face toucher, thumb-twittler, pencil chewer, eye roamer, body-position shifter, leg and arm crosser, and a finger/toe tapper. So basically I can't sit still.

Anyway my point is these are all nervious (and sometimes unconsious) habits people do when they are anxious, jittery, scared, bored, cold, warm, hungry, tired, hyper, insomniac, uncomfortable, or anything else because it is a learned coping mechanism. Also you know how their are different types of intelligences? One of them is kinestetic intellegences. That means that to learn or absorb new material you have to stay moving- basically a way to keep your brain awake.

Maybe try getting him to wear gloves/mittens more often or find more activities for him to keep his hands busy (drawing, typing, guitar/drums, building, tweezing, etc.) or as a PP said maybe it could be an oral fixation where he just wants to chew (mindless snacking- espesually if he is infront of the tv) and find something that will help that such as: gum, ice, cough drop/hard candy, sunflower/pumpkin seeds. Since he is 5 I probably wouldn't give him a binky because that could become a bigger issue. observe when he does this behavior the most- Right before/after school? Before meals? Before bed? After he does something wrong? When he's confused? Only when watching tv? When he has nothing to do? Does he have any other habits you may have overlooked?

If you are really concerned about this you should talk to a doctor or a child psychologist- there is a small possibilty it could be a sign of anxiety issues, a mild form of OCD/ADD/ADHD (impulses/jitteryness), or even Pika (craving for nonfood items- like nails). Or you can at least ask them if they have any suggestions to get him to stop.

I also notice that I bite my actual nails less when I have acrilic nails or nail polish on (usualy because I am trying to peel the polish off instead). I doubt you will let him get fake nails or paint his nails colors but you can still try using clear polish- just make sure he spits the polish out instead of swallowing it (or maybe wait till he is older to try that).

P.S, I wouldn't try to put hot sauce or soap or anything on his fingers because sometimes that doesn't work. One time during the holidays my Nonna (alzhimers) wouldn't stop licking her fingers- before we even ate anything! We were all grossed out and we would tell her to stop and she would say "okay" but then every 20 seconds she would start again. We tried making her wash her hands with soap after she did that and thought that maybe she would stop but she kept doing it and then my aunt tried to put hot sauce on her hands and she still wouldn't stop. She did seem to slow down after dinner.
Tags:bad habits, biting nails, gross, nails
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