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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter has started biting her fingernails. She's mad with me for not tolerating it. It makes her little hands look so ugly... I have no real experience with this. Neither I nor my sister were nailbiters. Her teacher said most kids in class do "something" (sucking on their hair, biting nails, sucking thumb, nibbling on the ends of their sweater zippers, ...).

She used to be very good at cutting her own nails with kid's nail scissors, I can't imagine why she now prefers to bite them... it started pretty suddenly and even though she's always been very 'oral', I really can't imagine WHY she started doing this at this particular moment. Things are fine at home and things seem fine in school (I asked). She may have picked it up from a little friend maybe.

Any advice appreciated ! I hear none of the "classical" tricks (like using the foul tasting nail "polish") really work ?
 

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Nail biting is due to nervousness. Some people are more nervous than others. It's not serious.

I bit my nails till I was over 20. It made my hands look ugly, but it didn't destroy my life and I had plenty of boyfriends who never commented.

And then one day... I stopped. I never even notice I stopped. I suppose I had solved whatever was making me do it. The time was ready.

Don't sweat about small things.

If you stop her biting her nails, her nervousness will just be blocked up inside her, or she'll find another way to vent it which may be worse.
 

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I think it will be hard to get her to stop if she doesn't want to. This is probably something she'll need to grow out of herself.

You said she's 'oral,' was she a thumb-sucker? Maybe she's just traded one nervous habit for another. I wouldn't worry too much about what brought it on, especially if that's the case. Not to worry you (just passing along my experience), but I've switched from one bad habit to the next my entire life (I'm currently between nervous habits, which is a nice place to be). It's good to get rid of them, but don't be surprised if she picks up a new one.

However, here are my entirely unscientific suggestions:

Gently pull her hands out of her mouth or kindly remind her to stop biting whenever you catch her doing it. It will annoy her to no end, but constant reminders like that helped me stop hair-sucking and knuckle-cracking when I was a kid. At the very least I would be conscious to do it when my parents weren't around, and that made it much less of an unconscious habit.

Give her something to keep her hands/mouth busy. Give her chewing gum or a healthy snack to divert her attention. For her hands, anything she can move repetitively is good. I have this beaded metal thing that can be pulled into a ball, or flattened, or made into shapes. Play-doh is also good for keeping the hands busy. Sometimes this works great, sometimes people set them down and go right back to the nails.

Maybe paint her nails her favorite color? I wasn't a nail-biter, but I was a perfectionist and I hated it when my nail-polish chipped. Maybe she'll be a little less likely if she knows she'll mess it up (I'm not counting on this one, though).

Edited to fix spelling
 

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Uh oh.

Okay, the best thing you can do is to try to help her stop. I don't think scolding will help. She may never grow out of the habit herself. I started biting my nails when I was very young, and I am still struggling to stop. (I am 19.) I have been using this nail polish that I really like on my short nails to keep me from biting them. I don't care how silly it looks, either.


Anyway, I would treat her to Mommy-daughter manicures. I know that if my mom did this with me, it would've helped me stop. Take her to the store and let her pick out her favorite nail polish - one for her nails and one for your nails. (Yes, let her pick the color for you!) Then pick a good time to do the manicures - you paint her nails and she gets to paint Mommy's nails.

I know that idea may sound really silly, but I think it would work. Teach her that having nails at a healthy length are beautiful and something to be happy about. Turning it into a fun activity will hopefully help her appreciate her nails.

I advise against scolding her when she bites her nails. This may make her angrier and want to bit them even more. She may end up biting them when she's alone or at school when there isn't a parent to scold her.

ETA: She will probably get a kick out of painting your nails a silly color. Maybe you could make a promise to leave the color on for X number of days (with some touch-ups of course) if she promises to stop biting her nails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ummm... I doubt that nail polish would help at all. She's not a girlish girl and she doesn't want polish (unlike some of her little classfriends). I suspect she most bites her nails at storytime in class and while going to sleep at night, and maybe while watching TV (she usually watches while I cook and I can't watch her all the time). I should find something else for her to nibble on but she's quite finicky actually, LOL !

She was not a thumb sucker but she had a pacifier until she was 4 ! The biting didn't replace the sucking right away though.

I might try teaching her to use a (cardboard) nailfile, she's quite handy and she might find it fun to do that.

Further input very welcome. As I said, I never bit my nails and neither did my sister so I wonder where it comes from...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The pacifier was only for sleeping. It was Ok'd by her dentist until the age of 4. She was (and still is) a terribly bad sleeper. She hasn't had it in 1.5 years now though. I wish she'd chew gum but she hates it (just like me...). I might look for her teething rings from when she was a baby though, LOL !!! (she might hate being associated with a baby again)
 

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Does she like crafts? You might be able to interest her in coloring or making jewelry or something like that while she watches TV.

Idle moments are the worst. I know I had terrible time with my nervous habits during boring lectures at school (in line with storytime), and I couldn't think of anything to do to distract myself. And that's when I was trying to stop!

I know this won't work until she wants to stop, but in the future if this is still a problem it might help for her to sleep with gloves or mittens on. If you try it now, though, it will just make her mad and she'll take them off.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ahhh... makes me think. Dead moments. She probably does it while I'm driving too. I don't always watch her since I have to watch the traffic. Dang ! She tried doodling in the car yesterday - probably because she knows I don't like the nailbiting - but it made her nauseous. Poor kid !

Yes, she loves crafts. She even goes to a weekly crafts class. It's her mom (myself) who doesn't like the mess it makes in the house (hence the class !). She has started managing her crafting material herself now though and I got a chest of drawers to put it in, but I still have to assemble the chest. Geez. A chest of drawers to keep her from nailbiting. OK I am rambling now... LOL !!!
 

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Definitely try painting her nails all pretty. The taste may not deter her (although it would deter me, YUCK!) but she may want to keep them looking nice.

My son's actually been biting his nails from birth. He would literally gum his fingers instead of doing something normal like sucking his thumb. Once he got teeth he really started munching them. He's 14 years old and he's still biting them. It's maddening!
 

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my ds (3 1/2 yrs old) starting doing that this summer. I told him that it's not a good thing to do because we harbor MANY germs under our nails from everything we touch. Then we looked up (on computer) what those nasty germy devils looked like under there... and talked about how, if they're under there and we then EAT them w/ our nails, or just get them on our teeth/mouth it could make us cough and sneeze. He totally got it and quit the nail biting!
 

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My parents always tried with me and nothing ever worked. 22 years old and I'm still a biter. It doesn't bug me or anybody else (except my boyfriend a bit, but he can stuff it). I did stop myself for a few months, though I started again later due to stress.

The thing that did work for me was doing my nails nicely. Then I didn't want to wreck them. I would recommend doing that and showing her how good they can look when you fuss over them. There's really no way you can stop her if she's determined to do it though, and it isn't serious. Just gotta relax about some things... she'll stop when she wants to stop. Just present her with the means and the reasons to do so.
 

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I don't know. Maybe I don't know because I don't have kids, but it doesn't seem like the worst habit she could have. If this is the worst she does, I'd say you're a pretty good parent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:
If this is the worst she does, I'd say you're a pretty good parent.
Ummm... thanks... she does pick her nose, too ! LOL ! (there's other stuff of course, but nothing too shocking or a-typical for this age).

The germs angle might work. She learned about germs in school and pronounces "bacteria" just perfectly right. It might "bug" her enough to motivate her !
 

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I always bit my nails as a kid. In my early 20's I got braces and couldn't bite my nails. I thought I was cured, but as soon as the braces were off I started biting again and have been for several years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
She's making an effort. I got her some cardboard nail files and she finds it cool to use them... We'll see. She still bites when she's not thinking about it... but less than before !
 

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I'm 17, and I've bit my nails for as long as I can remember. I did go through a period of about 2-3 months not biting them, but only because I really wanted to stop, and decided I was going to. Nobody else wanting me to stop ever got me motivated enough.

None of the tricks really worked for me, though gloves helped me not to bite in my sleep, the one time I really have no control over it. I woke up when I tried and ended up with a load of glove in my mouth though, and the lack of sleep made me cranky, so I'm not sure how successful that really was.
 

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See, I was a nail-biter. My mom tried painting my nails pretty and giving me gum (which I did not like) and things of that nature, but I began to bite to the flesh and get infections. Thus, one day she got some clear-coat and mixed in some chili powder, and painted my nails with it every day for three weeks. I quit quick. It wasn't horrible, it didn't burn like mad. However, it was highly unpleasant to the taste and was spicy.
 
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