Parents treat the child’s nail-biting habit in different ways: some ignore this fact (they say, it will pass by itself), others slap their hands, others are looking for the reason for this child’s behavior, and at the same time methods of dealing with this habit. Where does this habit come from, and how to deal with it?
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Why do children bite their nails – the opinion of child psychologists
Constant and active biting of nails is called the medical term “onychophagia“- a very rare occurrence for 3-6 years old and sharply increasing after 7-10 years. Contrary to the opinion of parents who believe this habit is not worthy of attention, nail biting is a problem, and it has its roots in psychology.
What do experts say about the causes of onychophagia?
- If your child starts to bite his nails – look for the roots of this habit in the family, school and other environment of the child… Because the main reason is emotional stress. These can be conflicts at school, adaptation in kindergarten, excessive impressionability and vulnerability of the baby, etc. Each cause for excitement will be accompanied by nail biting – that is, a process that relieves stress and soothes. Pay attention – maybe your child feels insecure and it is at these moments that he returns to a bad habit? Or gets nervous when there are a lot of people? Or angry? The sooner you find the cause, the sooner you will overcome this habit.
- The child copies others… Perhaps one of the adults in the family also sins with such a habit – take a closer look and begin simultaneous “treatment”.
- Thumb-sucking habit turned into a habit of biting nails.
- And the fourth reason is lateness of the obligatory nail trimming procedure… That is, non-compliance with hygiene rules.
A child bites his nails – the consequences of this bad habit
Of course, such a habit cannot be considered useful. He is harmful and ugly from all sides. And no matter how it calms the nervous system, it is possible and necessary to fight it so that eliminate consequences such as…
- Penetration of infection into the body through wounds on the skin around the bitten nails.
- Penetration of infection or helminth eggs from dirt under the nails into the child’s mouth. And, as a consequence, the risk of catching an intestinal infection or getting sick with helminthiasis.
There is no need to talk about the aesthetic side of the issue. Bitten nails are a depressing picture in themselves, and give peers only a reason for ridicule. Therefore, having caught your child for such an unseemly occupation, immediately (until the habit takes root) analyze the situation and start “treatment”…
How to properly apply nail polish for children biting their nails, and is there any benefit from it?
Many mothers use a special bitter varnish… It is sold in a regular pharmacy (for example, “nekusayka”) or in cosmetic stores. The taste of the varnish is rather bitter, and there are no components in the composition that can harm the health of the child (although it will not hurt to check the composition to avoid trouble).
The varnish does not help everyone – there are situations when the problem simply cannot be solved with one varnish. Remember – first you need to find the reason bad habit and only then, having eliminated this cause, eradicate the habit itself.
The varnish is used regularly – with constant “renewal” after the next nibble, on average – every three days… Some parents, fearing unknown components of the varnish, use mustard, pepper, etc. instead.
How to wean a child from biting nails – instructions for parents
The first thing a mother needs to do, when she finds her child biting her nails, is find a solution… That is, start with your family: pay attention to what the child is unhappy with, what worries him, what fears haunt him.
Experts give the following recommendations for the treatment of onychophagia:
- It is strongly not recommended to scold a child for this habit., raise your voice and show your displeasure and anger. By doing this, you will only aggravate the situation – the child will get nervous, and his hands will again reach into his mouth. Not to mention that children tend to go against the backdrop of harm, protesting against prohibitions. Therefore, to explain to the child that this is a bad habit, one should use other methods – without negativity, without prohibitions and twitching. Look for the most appropriate, effective method and use it from the position of a loving and caring parent, not a Cerberus who is annoyed by this “nasty habit”. Read: Why can’t you yell at a child?
- Be patient… Understand that it is as difficult for a baby to overcome this habit as it is for an adult to quit smoking. Remember: a categorical prohibition causes only rejection and protest! Find the right motivation for your child to hear and understand you. For example, if a child refuses porridge, then tell him – “This is useful!” – just meaningless. But the phrase “You will eat porridge, and you will become strong and muscular, like dad” – will work much faster.
- Pick a moment when the child is ready to listen to you carefully, and tell me why this habit is bad… Describe the evil germs that enter the child’s body along with the dirt under the nails – show them in pictures. Inform your child that nail biting is a habit of weak people, and strong and courageous people never bite nails. Place the accents correctly, leading the child to the desired independent conclusion.
- Does the child love a cartoon character? Tell him that, for example, Spider-Man would never be a hero if he chewed on his nails. And the prince would never have chosen Cinderella if her nails were as scary and bitten as those of her evil sisters.
- Compose a fairy tale about a child who chewed his nails and got into various unpleasant situations because of this habit. Of course, the fairy tale should end with getting rid of the habit, and the characters should be as close to the child as possible.
- Give your toddler the opportunity to vent emotions, aggression and negativityaccumulated during the day. Regular emotional release is a mandatory component of the overall program to get rid of the bad habit. Sports and active games are the best option.
- Every time your child pulls his hands to his mouth, subtly distract his attention… Put something in his hands, ask him to bring a napkin or help you in some business.
- Teach your child to be hygienic – regularly take care of his nails, focus on the beauty and cleanliness of nails. If you have a girl, give her a beautiful (safe) manicure. The child will not chew on a manicure, “like a photo model in a magazine” – a very effective method for girls from 5 years old.
- If the child is too nervous and agitated, see a doctor – let her prescribe homeopathic, harmless drugs to calm the nervous system. Sometimes it makes sense to consult a psychologist.
- Keep your child’s hands busy with something… There are many options. Find an activity to his liking – buy modeling clay, brushes / paints and real canvases, a designer, etc.
And the main advice – be attentive to your child… Show how much you love him often. Take time in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to read a fairy tale to your child, go out of town, ask about your success in school or kindergarten. Create an atmosphere in the home that makes your child feel comfortable and relaxed. Eliminate irritantsthat make the child nervous. And gradually the bad habit will come to naught.
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