How to Stop Biting Nails

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Nail biting in children is common when they are bored, frustrated or have an oral fixation, so finding something to distract them from biting their nails is a good start to breaking the habit. Find chewing gum or a hands-on activity to break a nail-biting habit with advice from a clinical psychologist in this free video on parenting.

Part of the Video Series: Parenting Basics
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Video Transcript

Hello, I'm Dr. Deborah Wheeler, I'm the vice president of academic affairs at Argosy University on the Salt Lake City campus. I'm also a clinical psychologist and today's topic how to get your children to stop biting their nails. I used to bite my nails down to the quick myself when I was young so I know intimately about this topic. Usually it's because the child is either anxious or bored or has no other way to express any kind of frustration they have. I know for me it was very much a case of being on edge or feeling frustrated about something. If I was able to distract myself, that was a good start. So as a parent, you may help your child by distracting them, reminding them that they don't need to bite their nails, find something else to do with their hands. That might be partly a way to thwart that. You might also find something like chewing gum that keeps them from wanting to have their fingers in their mouths. So whether it's an oral activity or whether it's something that's built in frustration or anxiety, find some ways to distract them from that, give them something else to do with that emotion and help them find ways to replace that behavior. Some parents for young children paint some nasty tasting things on their nails, you might only do that if that's part of a punishment, you might still find that you don't address the root cause for that child. Help them find other things to do and you'll have success in stopping the nail biting. If you'd like more information on this topic or any others we can help you with on parenting, please contact us at argosy.edu.

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