September 28, 2008,
S.P. asks from Longview, TX on September 23, 2008
How to Stop a 3 Year Old from Biting Her Fingernails
My three year old little girl is biting her nails into the quick. Does anyone have any suggestions on getting her to stop?? Obviously telling her isn't working and she does the worst damage when she is away from me. Looking for ideas. Thanks, S.
B.G. answers from Austin on September 24, 2008
Very normal behavior when coping with anxiety or just bored. Give her something more appropriate when you catch her in the act. Let her chew on gum, laughy taffy or something else. You can buy these chew straws from Occupational Therapists. They are in the shape of a letter T. It sends sensory input to the brain and is calming. It's just like an adult who taps their foot, twirls their hair, cracks their knuckles, etc. Here's a link to buy them online. Click on "oral Motor"" then "Designed to Chew." Hopefully by focusing her attention on something else, she'll save her beautiful nails. :) Good luck.
T.S. answers from Austin on September 24, 2008
We had this same issue with my son when he was that age. He bit his nails all the time to the point of making them bleed. We tried everything, and nothing works right away. It will take time for her to break the habit. One thing that worked for our son was if we gave him something else to do when he felt like chewing. Try cutting a drinking straw down to a size that will fit in her pocket. Let her carry it around with her all day, and tell her every time she feels like chewing her fingers, to take out the straw and chew that instead. For our son, that worked over time. The other thing that helped him was peer pressure. Once he got into school, he felt awkward chewing his fingers in front of his friends. I would ask your pediatrician and your daycare provider or preschool teacher. They have likely seen this before and might have some tips for you. I'm not sure it ever completely goes away. He still chews his nails occasionally, and he's almost 10 now.
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L.B. answers from Corpus Christi on September 24, 2008
Have you tried painting her nails, for everyday that she does not bite them you can paint them, even different colors when she bite's them no painting. Little girls love to have their nails painted. Hope that this works. Good luck
J.T. answers from Victoria on September 24, 2008
I painted my nails in elemantry school and it got me to quit. i hated the chips of polish in my mouth. also they make a protuct called bitter thumb or something like that. i have seen it at walgreens. good luck.
I.H. answers from San Antonio on September 24, 2008
Rub some garlic on them. She will not like the taste and everytime she puts them in her mouth she will get the taste.
D.R. answers from San Antonio on September 24, 2008
i'm actually in the same position as you. I have a 6yo boy who has been biting his nails to the quick since he was about 3 also. We constantly remind him to stop whenever we catch him with his fingers in his mouth (whether he is chewing or not because it eventually goes there). It frustrates him, but cut the problem down. also, now that he is in 1st grade, it has also cut down significantly. He still chew his nail, but only the white part. He doesn't cause them to bleed anymore. My daughter, we tried the bad flavored polished but many times they were pepper flavors and she actually liked them so we started painting her nails with colors and after a year or so, she stopped "messing up her polish." We also refused to let her paint them when we caught her chewing them. This was a great incentive. I sympathize because I am a lifetime nail biter. I'm much better now and mostly pick at the cuticles instead of the nails (which actually looks worse) but I know how hard it is to break a subconsious habit. Patience, consistency and time are the best ways to stop.
J.S. answers from Austin on September 25, 2008
B.S. answers from San Antonio on September 23, 2008
When I was younger my mom and dad rubbed onions or garlic to stop me. I won't do that but if my dd was a nial biter I would try talking to her and explaining why you don't want her to. Is she nervous about something? Is she scared about something? Or does she just have to keep her hands busy? Try to figure out why she is biting her nails. I used to and still do if I'm nervous. So why I was about 12 like most girls I wanted to look my best. I painted my nails to stop. It works. So if after talking to her offer to paint her nails w/ lite pinks or other colors or clear and ask her to keep her hands looking beautiful. Good luck.
W.C. answers from San Antonio on September 23, 2008
I wish you the best of luck.
I personally bite my fingernails to the quick until I was in highschool. Then is started getting them done, and that was it.
Maybe getting them pretty and painting them and stickers and such would give her some insintive?
Another thought is making her wash her hands EVERY time you see her biting. I did this with my daughter who wouldn't stop picking her nose. She stopped because washing her hands took too much time out of her day.