What You Need to Know about Nail-biting

This is everything you need to know about nail biting. Nail biting is a very common habit for young children. Most children pick up this habit at one point or another when they are toddlers. But why do they do it? Your child’s nail biting habit could be caused by a wide range of things. In many cases, children will stop biting their nails. However, some people do continue biting their nails into adulthood. Here is what you should know.

Children bite their nails because of stress, boredom, curiosity, or just because it is a habit they picked up by watching someone else do it. It is one of the common habits many children pick up, along with nose-picking, grinding their teeth, thumb sucking, or hair fiddling/eating. Thankfully, these other habits don’t often last as long as nail biting.

Many children bite their nails when they are in uncomfortable situations. It is one of the most common reasons a child will begin. It is completely normal for young children to feel overwhelmed, especially as they begin to interact with other children and learn new things at the nursery or school. They are in the stage of their life where they begin developing ways to cope with stress. Many children begin biting their nails, but later find other ways to reduce stress.  

While it may be completely normal, there are plenty of methods you can use to stop your child from eating their nails. This is the perfect time for you to help them develop other ways to manage their stress levels and avoid chewing on their nails.  

Tips for Encouraging Children to Stop Biting Their Nails

  • Keep up with nail growth. Some children are biting their nails just because they are getting too long, or are getting caught on things. They are biting them as a response to their discomfort. Keep track of how quickly their nails grow and cut them as frequently as you need to. Don’t forget to file away rough edges with a nail file.
  • Show them you understand how hard it is to kick a habit. Many adults have nervous habits that can take years to overcome. You may be one of them. Never make you child feel bad about biting their nails. If it’s caused by anxiety, that can make it worse. Some kids also will learn that the behavior is a good way to get your attention. Don’t talk about their nail biting when you catch them doing it.
  • Nail biting products like paints and pepper can feel like a punishment. They don’t work well for toddlers.
  • Congratulate your child when they avoid biting their nails. Reward systems are a great way to reinforce positive behaviors. Some families use a point, or sticker, system to help their children choose to make good choices. When you don’t see them bite their nails for a day, they earn a point toward their favorite treat or activity.
  • Validate the reasons why they may be anxious. Starting school, moving to a new home, or having a new sibling could make any child anxious. It will take some time for them to get used to any changes in their life. Just be sure to reassure them that change can be good. Stay positive and try to have conversations with them about what is making them anxious.
  • Some children bite their nails if they are uncomfortable. This can be caused by allergies, or asthma you may not know they have yet. Try using room dehumidifiers and purifiers to help make the air quality better.
  • Subtly let them know when they are biting their nails. This isn’t to make them feel bad. Some children just aren’t even aware they are biting their nails. Choose a gentle signal that won’t embarrass them in public. A little brush on their head or tap on their shoulder is perfect.
  • Offer better habits. Give them something else to fiddle with instead of biting their nails. A stress-ball, or similar object that can fit in their pocket is perfect.
  • Work with them to find solutions. Don’t force your child to wear anything they don’t want to. If they do want to wear stickers or nail polish as a reminder to stop biting their nails, by all means, do it. However, if that’s not something they’d enjoy, talk to them about other solutions.  

I hope these tips help you better understand your child and their habit. Just remember to listen to them. What they say to you can help you find solutions that will help them learn how to handle stress, or give them tools to stop bad habits as they grow into adulthood.

Preparing for Kindergarten

Preparing for kindergarten can be a stressful task for both children and their parents. With the school year approaching, you may be worrying about what to expect and how to prepare your child for their first year of classes.

Kindergarten is where children begin to learn about how they function in a group. They are asked to follow instructions, cooperate with other students, and how to convey their thoughts and ideas. It is less about learning their numbers and letters, and more about learning social skill that will help them later in their life at home and in school.

Socializing with Other Children

Since kindergarten is more about learning how to share and collaborate, children who already know how to interact with others do the best. Kids who go to preschool or spent time in daycare have this in the bag. Children have to learn to share toys in a group and play group games in these settings. If your child hasn’t had this experience yet, try joining a playgroup, or other group activity. Dance, music, gymnastics, or sports teams are great places for children to develop these skills. All while having a great time!

If you’re child is shy, think about the activities they will be asked to perform at birthday parties or in the classroom. Try to recreate these games at home with the family to help them get excited about them when it comes time to play with their peers. They may be more likely to get involved if you teach them how to play games like, “Musical Chairs,” Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” and other party games for children.

If you can’t get your child interested in any of these activities, bring them to public areas where there are other children. Parks, public pools, playgrounds, and libraries are great places for your child to make new friends and play games.

Learning About Themselves

Another part of the kindergarten experience is learning facts about themselves. Your child will learn how to spell their name, how to write their age, address, and phone number. They will also learn the names for various body parts. It’s good to help them to practice these facts before they get into the classroom. Some students will lose self-esteem if other children know these things and they feel behind. If your child has trouble memorizing, try singing songs with them. “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” is a perfect song for helping them learn the names of their body parts. You can also make up your own rhymes and songs to help them spell their name, or remember other facts.

Help Develop Fine Motor Skills

Writing is a hard task for young, inexperienced hands. It’s good to help them develop these fine motor skills before they pick up a pencil and start writing stories. Offering them tasks at home can help them build their self esteem and fine motor skills. Have them complete tasks that require them to be nimble with their arms and fingers. Have them help you open the mail, put away silverware, cook food, and tie shoelaces. I even bought my children their own tiny tool kits so they can help me when I need to hammer a nail or tighten a screw.

Another great way to help children develop fine motor skills is with art projects. Give them thick markers for drawing pictures, have them create sculptures with paper or other creative materials you find around the house or recycling bin.   

Familiarize Them with Words

My first child was trying to read at a very young age. I had to buy two of each bedtime story because he wanted to study the words as I read them to him. He memorized every word of “Goodnight Moon,” and used that book as a key to try to read other books. That made him very successful when it came time for him to go to school. Not all children will have that curiosity, but if they do, support it. Some kids will even ask for more help, and there are workbooks you can buy for kids before they start school. Just don’t do it if they don’t seek it out.

Reading to your child is the best way to get them interested and learning about new words. When you spend time drawing with them, or showing them pictures, ask them to tell you stories about what they see. Another good exercise to try is having your child tell you a story. As they are telling the story, write it down. When they are done, read it back to them. Then they can try to read it to you.