Toddlers have some very annoying habits! Some are easy to break (screaming was an easy one for me), others are not (getting a toddler to stop using a pacifier for instance!). In this post, I am going to take a look at another annoying toddler habit… How do you stop a toddler from biting their nails? Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Toddlers Bite Their Nails?
- 1. Anxiety / Stress Relief
- 2. Curiosity Or Boredom
- 3. Acquired Habit
- How To Stop Your Toddler From Biting Their Nails – 5 Tips
- 1. Reward
- 2. Cut Nails Regularly
- 3. Gloves
- 4. Substitution
- 5. Nail Spray
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do children bite their nails?
- How do you break a child’s habit?
- What is nail biting a sign of?
Why Do Toddlers Bite Their Nails?
Nail-biting is one of the many nervous habits that toddlers have.
Nail-biting is the most common among these habits and the most likely to continue into adulthood.
If you are wondering how to stop toddler biting nails, then you shouldn’t worry. The good news is, most toddlers will eventually stop biting their nails or at least limit or control the behavior on their own.
1. Anxiety / Stress Relief
Toddlers can get anxious sometimes. They can experience pressures and tensions and find it hard to express them. This usually leads to behavior like nail-biting.
They may bite their nails unconsciously like while watching television or in response to certain situations. It can be your toddler’s way of coping with minor stress so most of the time you don’t have to worry much about it.
You, however, have to worry about it if your toddler severely bites their nails to the point of harming themselves.
Talk to your doctor if your toddler’s fingers get bloody or sore when they bite their nails. This could be a sign of excessive anxiety.
2. Curiosity Or Boredom
Children are generally very curious. They ask a lot of questions and love to discover new things.
Your child may bite nails if they are bored and have nothing to do.
They may also do it just because they are curious and want to find out how it feels to bite their nails.
Whenever your child does this, give them an activity to do to keep them busy.
They’ll most likely forget about biting their nails once they get busy.
3. Acquired Habit
Some children pick this habit from seeing other people doing it. Others inherit this habit from their parents.
Nail-biting parents can pass this habit to their kids.
If you have twins, and one of the twins starts biting their nails, the other twin is most likely going to bite their nails too.
If you don’t want your child to acquire this habit from you, then try to control your habit first before they learn from you.
How To Stop Your Toddler From Biting Their Nails – 5 Tips
If you have read a few posts on my site, you will know that I am big on reward charts! There is no better way to discipline a toddler than by rewarding good behavior.
Create a reward chart and offer a reward when your toddler goes a day without biting their nails. If your toddler performs well, then hand over a reward. I call them ‘toy shop tokens’.
It doesn’t have to be a financial treat. You can reward them with a trip out to a local park to burn off some toddler energy!
2. Cut Nails Regularly
You should cut your toddler’s nails every day to prevent them from biting them.
Cutting their nails short means that there’s nothing to bite. If there’s nothing to bite on, then your child will obviously not bite their nails.
My son hates having his nails cut – so we just cut them while he was sleeping! It was a tricky operation at times, but patience and persistence paid off well in the end.
Sometimes, these habits just straight up need to be broken. Going cold turkey is difficult for toddlers, especially when their nails are always with them.
I’m not suggesting that you remove their nails by the way! But you can remove access to them until they develop a habit of NOT biting their nails.
You can remove access by getting your toddler to wear gloves during the way. Themed finger gloves are great for distraction AND to remove access to nails.
Sometimes, it is just a case of riding it out, and gloves will help during this time.
You can substitute your toddlers nail biting with something else.
Be creative, it could be:
- A toy
- Healthy food
- A chew necklace
There is a danger that you are simply replacing one habit with another, which is why you need to be very careful.
5. Nail Spray
A friend of mine used this technique with her toddler when she was concerned about nail-biting. It worked.
There are some sprays available that you can spray onto your toddler’s nails in the morning. It makes their nails taste horrible, which will stop them from biting them.
Now, we know that toddlers are forever rubbing their eyes, rubbing their nose, etc. The danger is that the spray might transfer to these areas, making life a little uncomfortable for your toddler. When you have applied the spray, ensure that you let it dry before leaving your toddler to go about their daily business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do children bite their nails?
There are a number of reasons why children bite their nails. The most common reasons include; anxiety, frustration, anger. Your child may have gone through what was an anxious time and have picked up the habit from that time.
How do you break a child’s habit?
My first tip is to reward your child for times when they are breaking their habit. Some folks go for punishment, but that just makes them more anxious. A reward should always be the first step in your disciplining process. Rewarding good/corrected behavior, of course!
What is nail biting a sign of?
Nail biting can be a sign of; Anxiety, boredom, anger, frustration. The key thing is that you sit down and figure out what is causing it. Ask key questions like: When did it start, what was happening during that time?
Most of the time nail biting goes away on its own and parents don’t have to worry about it. However, if it gets out of control then you should do what you can to stop your toddler from biting their nails!
Do not shout at them or make them feel uncomfortable because this will push them to do it even further. If you stress them out, they are most likely to respond by doing it harder. So be patient.
If you are looking for ways on how to stop toddler biting nails, you should start by observing your child to find out what triggers this nail-biting. Have you changed their routine? Or are they just doing it because they are bored?
Finding out his triggers will bring you a step closer to finding the solution. If you have tried everything and nothing works, then help them control it as you wait for them to outgrow it.