My 3 Yr Old Step Daughter Bites Her Fingers and Palms,what to Do??

Updated on March 31, 2007
S.D. asks from Adrian, MO
7 answers

I need some help on what to do with my 3 yr old step daughter. She is constantly biting at her fingers and picking at the palms of her hands til they bleed. I have tried putting socks on her hands i have tried the nail biting stuff on her fingers, nothing is helping, any suggestions??? Well just so you all know, I take my step daughter to the doctor next Thursday, so I should be able to let you all know whats goin on by Friday...Thanks for all the help

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So What Happened?

Well just so you all know, I take my step daughter to the doctor next Thursday, so I should be able to let you all know whats goin on by Friday...Thanks for all the help

More Answers



answers from Oklahoma City on

Hello S.,

Please go to your local health department and get a check on development delays or an over achiever. I ask you this because my son did the same thing and he had/has and oral motor condition it was/is his way to get out frusteration from delayed development. Later I realized I am also an oral motor person as well, I am always chewing my nails, gum, tough chewy foods, hard candy and such crunchy ice as well as very chewy gummy stuff and beef jerky. These things are not bad but with my son it was a precurser to developmental delays. Early intervention is the key, by federal law the No Child Left Behind Act children as young as 3 can attend school to get help for developmental issues good or bad. I just want you to know the options availible to you.

Best of luck Please let us know,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Biting herself until she bleeds is a pretty serious indicator that something is wrong. Self-inflicted harm/pain is most often related to frustration and inability to deal with some sort of stress or anger.
If you pay careful attention, you may very well notice that she does this everytime ________ (fill in the blank).
It could be everytime a certain child is around that sort of bullies her, everytime she colors and 'messes up' (indicating she's a perfectionist), etc.
You mentioned that she is a step-daughter -- it may also be related to that. Does she live with you? Or does she just visit on weekends? Is her father (your husband) ALSO the father of your 3 1/2 year old? And even if he isn't, does the other child get to live with the two of you, but she doesn't? Is your natural 3 1/2 year old also a girl? Any of these things could be causing some real identity issues, issues of feeling inferior, less important, less loved, etc.
Children who's parents go on to create other children within a different household often feel betrayed, left out and abandoned EVEN WHEN that parent is still very involved. Especially if the child doesn't get to live with that parent.
So if she's living with her mother, and only gets to be with Daddy on the weekend, but OTHER children get to live with "MY DADDY"-- do you see how she may be feeling extremely jealous and frustrated? So it's possible that instead of taking out her frustration on the other child, she's taking it out on herself.
Have you noticed if maybe she does it when she's been visiting with one parent or the other? (If she lives with you, does she come back from visiting her mother and start biting herself? If she lives with her mother, does she come to your home and start biting herself? Does she bite herself when she's with her natural mother, also?)
There are so many possibilites. Did you notice that she started doing this after a particular event? Try to think back and see if you can relate this to some kind of trigger that began it all, and if there is a particular time she does it... when she's been visitng her mother or when she visits your home (depending on where she actually lives)...does she do it when she comes back from a preschool class... when she gets in an argument with a sibling, when she can't do something really well and thinks she SHOULD be doing it well, etc... See if you can find a trigger and a pattern.
Either way, I would definately talk to her doctor about it, and see about consulting with a child psychologist.
Best of wishes for you and your family-- I know it must be really hard for you to see her doing this to herself!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I want to make a suggestion to you to talk to your doctor about autism. I have a 4 yr old daughter withautism and she bites her hands and fingers to the point of bring blood. She rocks and is very short fused in social setting. Having her checked by an occupational therapist might not be a bad idea either.



answers from Enid on

My oldest son had a similar problem with his nails and with washing and rubbing his hands to the point they were red and sore. When I took him to the Dr. hewas tested and it turned out that he had a high level of anxiety. He has done counceling and a medication to help with it and it has all but stopped. May not be the same just thought you might want to check into it as well.



answers from Kansas City on

could it be that the skin is dry and it's itchy? I know when my hands get dry they itch really badly.



answers from Lawton on

Ditto to Susan's response. That could be a very clear sign of some sort of PDD or other motor/sensory issue. My 22 yr old son had the same problems.Good luck.

ps. the law for special needs was in place long before no child left behind



answers from Wichita on

Hi S.,
I would consult with her pediatrician on the matter. Hopefully, her ped will refer you to a behavioral specialist so you can find out why she is doing this and what to do to help her stop. Good luck and keep us updated!

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