Nail biting - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 05-12-2008, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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My 4.5 year old chews on his nails. Constantly. Even if he's engaged in another activity he's chewing on them - I have not cut them in 2-3 years. He will chew on his toenails if he's able to as well (in bed). It's to the point they're too short, hurt him and bleed. I've tried to give him activities to keep his hands busy, put bandaids on them, offered to let him wear gloves/socks, put lotion on them, holding his hands (but I need my hands free), even offered rewards if he can keep away from them. He's also started in on the skin around his nails. I've also offered him other things to chew on - different textures and temperatures.

He's sick all the time from his hands always being in his mouth after touching things. His fingers hurt. This can't keep going on, but I don't know how to help him stop. I'd welcome any ideas.

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#2 of 4 Old 05-12-2008, 05:40 PM
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Our 4.5yo DS also chews his finger & toenails. *sigh*
We have talked about it in terms of health, encouraged him to wash his hands a lot, chew only in the bath tub or immediately afterwards, explained the relationship between chewing and subsequent pain....but nothing has really changed his behavior long term.

One thing that works SOME TIMES, is to give him something appropriate to chew - he has had OT for sensory seeking issues which is a clear link to the nail chewing behavior, IMO. So we have "T" nub and "P" chewies around the house.

I've also taken to teaching him to carefully use nail clippers himself. It makes DH nervous, but so far DS has been careful and seems to like clipping, and chewing OTHER things.

We also permit gum as a chewing alternative. Have you considered sensory seeking issues as related to this?

I wish I had a more clear solution for you. GL.
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#3 of 4 Old 05-12-2008, 08:27 PM
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If you think it's anxiety related, you could look into herbal or homeopathic remedies to see if they would soothe him.

I never chewed my nails that much, but my parents threatened to put Tabasco sauce on them! if I didn't stop.
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#4 of 4 Old 05-13-2008, 12:23 AM
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My DD chews her nails "occasionally" and I'm not sure how to respond to it. I notice it most when she is watching TV or I'm reading a book to her (i.e. her hands are free). I have told her not to do it but of course that seems pointless, as most of the time she does the opposite of what I ask her to. She just turned four. She also has some "issues" around eating so in some ways I suppose I haven't been surprised about the nail biting. But I am still concerned.

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