Nail biting can often be a result of anxiety or nervousness, so observe your child to see when he is more prone to start biting his nails. Does his behaviour worsen when he is stressed or anxious? If it does, you will need to deal with the root of the problem first, by easing his worries and anxieties.
Explain why it’s a bad habit
Instead of insisting that your child stop biting his nails, sit down and talk to him about why it’s such a bad habit. Explain how fingernails can hoard germs and bacteria and how nail biting transfers these germs to his mouth. Tell him that these germs may make him sick or cause infections, and he won’t be able to join in fun activities with his friends while he is recovering.
Some children are also not aware of how they look when they’re biting their nails. Placing a mirror in front of them when you catch them biting their nails will give them an idea of how unsightly it looks, and perhaps discourage them from continuing the habit.
Get rid of additional energy and relief stress
Exercising is a great way for kids to distress quickly. Try fun activities like jump rope, or even children’s yoga to calm your child down or get rid of pent up stress and energy. Another good way to relieve anxiety would be to give your child a stress ball or toy to play with every time they feel stressed out and want to bite their nails.
If the nail biting is not a result of anxiety, try to distract your child whenever he starts to bite his nails, by placing a healthy snack in his hands or by placing his hands in yours. Some children may bite their nails simply out of boredom, so it’s best to keep them occupied with a fun activity like painting or building blocks when they’re not being closely monitored.
Give your child kiddy manicures
Make sure your child’s nails are neatly trimmed, and use an emery board to get rid of hangnails as well. Some children bite their nails to even out jagged nails or bite off painful hangnails, so keep fingernails properly trimmed may lessen the temptation for them to bite their nails.
Don’t embarrass your child
If you see your child biting his nails in public, don’t scold him or draw attention to the situation. Ideally, you should come up with a subtle signal, like a light tap on his wrist, to indicate that he should stop biting his nails. This way, you can remind him to stop his behaviour without embarrassing him and potentially causing more stress.