If you’re concerned about your toddler’s nail-biting, you’ll be happy to learn that they may outgrow the practice as they become older. Continue reading to discover the numerous causes of toddler nail-biting and how to break the routine.
What Causes Nail Biting In Toddlers?
Nail-biting in toddlers may or may not have an underlying reason. Some may do so on an irregular basis for no apparent reason. Some children gnaw their nails for a variety of reasons:
Genetics: Some toddlers with a family history of nail-biting may be more prone to the behavior. It’s unclear how genes influence habits like nail-biting.
Learned Behavior: If the toddler notices that a parent, parent, or sibling is biting their nails often, they can mimic the behavior.
Boredom: Some toddlers bite their nails because they have nothing interesting to do.
Anxiety: Some toddlers bite their nails when they are anxious as this distracts them and relieves the cause of the fear, making them feel relaxed. A toddler may also bite his nails when he is scared or ḟŕïġḧẗệńệď.
Mental Health Disorders: In some toddlers, nail-biting can be a behavioral manifestation of an underlying psychiatric disorder. Some examples include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome. Some toddlers may chronically bite their nails because of a behavior disorder called repetitive body-focused behavior.
Medication: In very rare cases, the nail-biting behavior can be a side effect of a medication.
How To Stop Toddler From Biting Nails
Trim their nails: Trimming your toddler’s nails is the most straightforward technique to prevent them from biting their nails. Shorten the nails to the point where they are difficult to bite. It may encourage the toddler to engage in activities other than biting their nails when bored.
Make your baby aware of this habit: Every time you see your toddler biting his nails, use subtle phrases to remind him of his actions. You can also use a secret code or an action, such as a whistle, to alert the toddler. This can cause the toddler to take action if he tends to pull back and bite his nails. This helps the toddler become aware that he may be biting his nails.
Offer alternative activities: Encourage the toddler to engage in other sensory activities when he is tempted to bite his nails. For example, you can give them play dough or toys with different textures. These can provide enough sensory stimulation to distract the toddler from biting his nails.
Praise Positive Behavior: Appreciate the toddler when you notice that he deliberately avoids biting his nails. Positive reinforcement works very well for building good habits in children. Therefore, praise them with words of encouragement and appreciation when you notice that they are doing the right thing.
Encourage communication of fear: If you feel your toddler is biting his nails because of the fear, talk to them. Teach the child to contact you when it feels anxious. For best results, seek help from other family members or engage an expert.
Consider nail-biting deterrent nail polish: There are a number of non-toxic nail polishes that deter nail-biting with their unpleasant taste. Consult a doctor before trying such nail polishes, as not all of them are suitable for children.
If at-home interventions do not seem to be working, seek the advice of a pediatrician. Never chastise or punish the youngster for their actions. The toddler may not be able to control the habit in many circumstances. In circumstances where you are unable to control and stop the habit at home, appropriate treatment and therapy may be able to help.