22 answers

Three Year Old Biting Finger Nails- How Do We Stop This?

My 3-year old daughter has discovered her nails! I noticed that I had to cut her nails less frequently. I don't often see her with her hands in her mouth. But I finally caught her about 5 times in the last 3 months biting her nails. She is not an anxious child or anthing. I believe she is doing this at night before falling asleep and that is why we don't see her doing it. Now, she has absolutely no nails. I have tried positive reinforcement with stickers/prizes. I have even tried negative reinforcement by puting lotion on her fingers and she thought it was something bad until she realized it was only lotion. Is there any organic nailpolish or something that I can put on her nails so when she puts her hand in her mouth the bad taste will condition her not to do it? This is an awful habit. I feel that I have to put a stop to it now. Any ideas?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My daughter did the same thing. What finally worked is having her pick out some nail polish at the store and we painted her nails. She was so proud of having pretty nails that she slowed down biting them and eventually stopped.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

Sounds gross but cut a tooth of garlic in half and stab her little nails into the garlic... leave for about 2-5 mins then wash her hands with soapy water.

The smell goes away with the wash but the taste stays embedded in the inside bottom of the nail... each time she puts her hand in her mouth she'll taste the garlic and wah-lah she'll slowly leave that habit as the reminder of garlic will push her to that.

I was a nail bitter as a child and the habit was never taken from me... until I decided as a young adult that enough was enough... now my nails grow nice and long and are beautiful...

besides the garlic is a good nutrient for the nail bed...

Good luck

CB

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

There's a product called "Stop the Bite" that you paint on your child's fingernails (or fingertips, I suppose!) that tastes awful. It's not organic and I don't know if it's suitable for a toddler. Sometimes I find it at Wal-Mart, in the section with all the nail polish and manicure accessories. Ask your pediatrician if it's safe? It probably is safe, as it tastes so awful your child is not likely to sit there ingesting a lot of it. I don't know how else to stop her habit, because she has to learn to stop on her own. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi S.:
I use to be a Nail biter. Mom and dad tried everything under the sun, to get me to quit. Nothing worked. I can tell you, that the reason your daughter does it, is related to stress or boredom. If she is doing this mainly at night,while shes in bed,she most likely has some fears,or has trouble soothing herself to sleep.You may not hear her,but shes obviously laying there biting. My suggestion,would be to spend a little more time calming her down before bedtime.Talk to her or read a sweet story.Many mothers swear that soft music helps calm,and soothe their children to sleep.Talk to your daughter,and ask her why shes nervous,then attempt to resolve those fears she's experiencing.Its a nervous habit S..I wish you and your darlin daughter the best.

2 moms found this helpful

I think all 3 year olds do this. I found a product called "Stop" by Mavala on the internet. It's a clear nail polish that has a bad taste. It worked with my 3 year old last year to stop both the nail bitting and the finger sucking. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

I am no expert, and I could be wrong, but to me, when a 3 year old is biting her nails, something is wrong. She's feeling tense, anxious, something. I would do several things. Try totally ignoring the nail biting for awhile (negative attn. is better than no attn. to kids) and in the meantime, give your daughter more "floor time". "Floor time" is when you get down on the floow with her and do exactly what she wants you to do. Turn off the TV and the phone. Don't let anyting except an emergency interrupt this time. She generates the play and is the boss. Let it be all warm and fuzzy and fun. Don't correct her for anything or control the play in anyway. Give her 20-30 minutes a day and I bet within one month she won't be biting her nails anymore. This is not to say that you're not a good mom now. Just that the one-on-one bonding time cures a lot of problems. She could be having an issue at the babysitter or something not related to you. She could feel like she's not getting enough time with you. Whatever it is, the floor time will help. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter did the same thing. What finally worked is having her pick out some nail polish at the store and we painted her nails. She was so proud of having pretty nails that she slowed down biting them and eventually stopped.

1 mom found this helpful

LOTS of toddlers seem to do this. Even our Pediatrician echoed this.

My daughter did this when she hit toddler-hood. She is 6 yrs. old now, and still occasionally does it. I don't believe that stickers/rewards/treats will help. BECAUSE, it is a sort of an involuntary thing. Its not something they do or don't do 'at-will.'

For our daughter, we just talked with her, we did not 'punish' for it because I don't think it fits the situation. We simply explained to her about hygiene and how 'germs' are found on the fingers and under the nails... and thus, you can get sick. Her Dad/my Hubby, also bites his nails on occasion... and each time he does, he gets sick. For us, this 'method' worked. Or, we tell her simply that if she is going to bite her nails... she HAS to wash her hands first. My daughter does it less now.

Also, my daughter tends to do it when she is falling asleep... it's like a stress reliever and it relaxes her. How do I know? Well I simply asked her 'why' she does it. I don't judge her for it and we don't scold her for it... but we just keep tabs on it, rationally. And, she is now not 'obsessed' about it.

You might also see if your toddler has any stress or anything? Many times, things like this is a 'coping' reliever. They are only children, so their coping skills can be like this.

I would not fret over it... yes, it's something we don't want our kids to do...but, this is a hard nut to crack. Even our Pediatrician does not recommend putting things on their fingers/nails to taste weird. It does not work. The main thing is 'management' of it... and as she gets older, she may not do it anymore. But just watch her hygiene and if she touches gross things/dirty things, make sure you wash her hands.

All the best,
Susan

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

Sounds gross but cut a tooth of garlic in half and stab her little nails into the garlic... leave for about 2-5 mins then wash her hands with soapy water.

The smell goes away with the wash but the taste stays embedded in the inside bottom of the nail... each time she puts her hand in her mouth she'll taste the garlic and wah-lah she'll slowly leave that habit as the reminder of garlic will push her to that.

I was a nail bitter as a child and the habit was never taken from me... until I decided as a young adult that enough was enough... now my nails grow nice and long and are beautiful...

besides the garlic is a good nutrient for the nail bed...

Good luck

CB

1 mom found this helpful

I used to be a nail biter too! I was never an anxious kiddo or filled with anxiety about stuff, but I would bite my nails and not realize I was doing it.

My Mom tried EVERYTHING from those horrible tasting finger polishes to rewards, but I just didn't know I was doing it. My Doc at the time recommended looking at the stressors in my life, and seeing what had changed in my routine, as the habit seemed to be totally subconcious.

For me I had started preschool, and my Mom was pregnant...huge changes for a 3 year old. My Mom talked to me about the changes, and eventually I stopped. But, it never REALLY went away. As a teen and an adult, I have caught myself doing it when I'm stressed or things are out of my control.

There is nothing like the power of conversation...talk to your little girl and try to figure out if there is anything that is bothering her or that has changed that she doesn't understand. Toddlers usually spill really well when they are engaged in actions like playing or eating.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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