November 25, 2020
While bad habits like using foul language or sass talking are learned behaviors from adult to child, others seem to come out of nowhere. Take biting their nails; for instance, these coping mechanisms are often an instinct for children when they feel anxious or stressed. Some parents may overlook the issue early on, but it can have significant consequences if not corrected.
Nail Biting in Children
Many newborns develop a habit of sucking their thumb to find comfort. If they haven’t outgrown this behavior by the time they’re toddlers, parents often turn to solutions like a thumb sucking guard to break the habit before it ruins their teeth. While such products prove beneficial in eliminating the problem, it’s not uncommon for children to find another coping mechanism, such as biting their nails. In that case, products like stop the bite can be effective.
Consequences of Nail-Biting
Prevalent in school-aged children and teenagers, nail-biting is a practice used to soothe stress and anxiety. More than having rugged-looking nails, several other issues could arise. Continue reading to learn more.
When a child is feeling stressed, they can bite their nails down to nothing more than nubs. Unfortunately, it exposes the skin causing redness, irritation, soreness, and damage. If there is enough damage, it leaves exposed wounds, resulting in infections around the nail bed.
One of the quickest ways to get sick is to put your hands in your mouth. Children that bite their nails are, therefore, at greater risk of getting sick. From the common cold or flu to bacterial infections and other viruses, the germs and bacteria on the hands enter the mouth and expose your child to many health conditions.
Oral health is another thing that can be compromised when children bite their nails. The grinding motion between teeth and nails can cause the enamel to weaken. Ultimately, the teeth become fragile and begin to chip and crack. Nail-biting can also cause teeth to shift, resulting in gaps and biting problems requiring extensive surgery and devices to correct.
Resolving The Problem
Now that you’ve learned why nail-biting in children is an issue, it’s essential to tackle it head-on. Depending on how long your child has had this habit, it could take time, and several of these strategies listed below.
Talk to Your Child
The first step is to determine why your child bites their nails. While some children may not know how to put it into words, others may openly express their feelings. Share with your child that you’ve noticed them biting their nails and how harmful it can be for their health. Then, ask them if there is anything you can do to help them cope with their feelings.
Trim Their Nails Frequently
Though you may have gotten some understanding as to why your kid bites their nails, breaking the habit requires a bit more effort. Since biting the skin around the nail is often painful, keeping their fingernails low could resolve the issue. Try to keep up with nail maintenance every week. If your child is old enough, you can schedule an appointment at your favorite salon. Getting pampered and having a cool design can also deter them from messing their nails up.
Bite-Averting Nail Polish
Sometimes, all you have to do to get a child to stop biting their nails is to keep them polished. As you can imagine, tasting nail polish is not a delightful experience. However, it is best to use bite-averting nail polish when trying to break this habit as it is made of ingredients that won’t have the harsh chemicals that could harm your child if ingested.
Nail-biting in children may seem harmless at first, but in reality, it’s quite the opposite. There’s a lot that could go wrong, from redness and irritation to increased illness and dental problems. If you’ve witnessed your toddler, school-aged, or teenage child biting their nails, cut them off at the pass using the solutions provided above. If that doesn’t work, see a pediatrician, pediatric dentist, or therapist find other treatment options.