When does nail biting start?
The first step is understanding the reason why your child is biting his nails. This habit is more likely to occur if the child is timid or agitated.
Your instinct probably says you should stop him every time he starts biting his nails. But this approach isn’t always successful. Punishment, or a slight touch on the hand, is not recommended.
The child has to be motivated to give up this habit out of his own free will.
A first attempt at stopping nail biting can be a conversation with the child. If you know what other things he dislikes in other children (if they chew their food noisily or if they scratch the table or the blackboard), you can tell him that his habit is equally nasty.
Another argument could be that eating his nails can be a danger to his health: dirty hands, filthy nails, after a few hours at the park. And because of this, his teeth will be ugly and deformed, and there will be more and more painful visits to the dentist.
Children don’t understand the long term effects of their actions. For them, future is still just an abstract notion, and is always related to the present. Similarly, the habit of nail biting is not something they’re aware of.
How to stop nail biting
Keep him busy. Kids usually bite their nails out of boredom, when they have nothing else to do. Try to keep them busy, using other activities, games, books. Even when you’re traveling in your car, always have a book or a toy with you. Tell your child a story, ask him how kindergarten or school went, what games he played, how his friends are, about this last trip to his grandparents etc.
Ginger oil. When you can’t get your child to stop biting his nails, you can put some ginger oil on them. The bitter taste of the oil will make him quit the habit pretty fast.
Keep his nails short. In order for him be less tempted to bite his nails, make sure they are always short.
Convincing a child to stop eating his nails is quite easy. All you need is patience and consistency and that your family – the child’s father, his grandparents – respect the same rules you do.