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Nail biting 3 year old

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 


My dd who turned three in October has started biting her nails, and I am at a loss as to how to help her.   She bites them so much that I no longer can cut them because there isn't anything to cut.  Normally I cut them once a week.  I am so worried that she is anxious about something.  It started when we implemented a new sleeping way to help her learn to fall asleep in her own bed with out us laying there.  We checked on her every few minutes and tried to expand the checking.  She was so anxious every night that we stopped after about two weeks and went back the old way.   There is more to that, but the point is that the nail biting started after we did that new way.


I have explained to her many times why it's not a good habit to start and she seems to understand.  I ask her to take her fingers out of her mouth when I see it, but it's escalating.   Do i just keep reminding her to stop and hope it clicks?


anyone BTDT?


post #2 of 6



I've been going insane with DS's nail biting too.  he barely has any nails left at all.

post #3 of 6

My 2 cents would be to drop it. There are a few battles you can not control with someone elses body. Toilet and food come to mind, but I would say nail biting is one of them as well. You are not going to win. Rewards, punishments, that nasty tasting stuff you put on her fingers, "I wish you would stop..." "You could look so nice if you didn't do that" "Why do you do that. Other people will think xyz..." any other nagging... This will only accomplish making your child feel ashamed, guilty, less worthy or frustrated. It will NOT cause your child to just stop biting her nails. This has to come from within. If your child wants to stop, she will. If not, she won't.


Speaking as a mom who bites her nails. I got all that crap as a kid, and it did not work. Think of natural consequences, well the consequences of biting my nails too short was pain. No one needed to harass me about that, it was obvious. Twice in my life I "quit the habit". Once when I was about 12 and once only 2 years ago. I didn't bite them for about 6 months. But it was a lot of effort and energy spent on NOT doing something, so then I started again. I now bite them and they are very short, but not so short that they bleed or are painful. 


I have a 4 yo DD who is not a nail biter. And I have a 6 yo DS who very much is a nail biter. He is a toenail picker as well. I never see him doing it, but he must. But I have also never harassed him about it. He knows he should not bite his nails, I don't need to tell him. Plus it would be extremely inappropriate for me to lecture someone else about something I don't do myself. My DH does not bother him about it either, he knows it would not do anything except make DS feel bad about himself.

post #4 of 6

My ods started biting his nails right around age 3. He would bite them so there was nothing left for me to trim and often times he would bite them until they bled. In the beginning, I would constantly tell him to stop biting his nails and would tell him various reasons why people shouldn't bite their nails. Nothing worked. He kept doing it. I realized that was not the way to go about this issue, so I stopped drawing attention to it and just let him do it. Now at age 6, he doesn't do it anymore! Actually, I went to cut his nails the other day and I was surprised at how long they had grown! lol.gif

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Allison--it's good to be reminded that it is her body and not mine.  I just hate the thought of her developing a habit that is so hard, as you know, to stop.  I  have tried to explain that a little.  I've even  told her about later wanting to paint your nails and have long nails...you won't be able to do that...blah blah blah.


but also, I just hate the thought that something has caused anxiety at age three to cause nail biting.  That's disturbing to me and I want to get at the source.  That's why I dropped the new sleeping way for now.  I thought that was the source, but she's still biting.


luv my babes

I hope mine stops like yours!


Anyone else?  Please? I would love to get more advice.  At this point, I am leaning toward ignoring it for now.  Still not sure though.

post #6 of 6

I think it is just a habit. Our dd, who will turn six soon, does it (she says) because she says she does not like the way cut nails feel. I can't stand the sound of it, so she is not allowed to do it when she is in our bed, etc. Otherwise she is free to do it.

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