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How do you stop a child from picking at their nails<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/headscratch.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="headscratch"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/headscratch.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="headscratch">? It is a nervous habit, but he is hurting his fingers.
 

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Gosh, I have no idea. I do know that just this week I was talking to a coworked about how (at the age of 40+) my normal position is one that has my hands in fists... to hide my nails because for so much of my childhood my mother pointed out how "awful" nailbiting made your hands look to others.<br><br>
So I have no advice except to say that (in my personal experience) talking about how it LOOKS probably isn't helpful!<br><br>
And I'll keep reading this thread because I'm hoping that any advice you get will be useful for me with regards to things like sucking fingers, forgetting to wash hands, nose-picking - you name it! All those behaviors that have logical reasons for abstinence that are incomprehensible to children! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue">
 

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dd # 1 - her and he r baby sitter worked it out. S. told her if she stopped biting her nails she would dye her hair a pretty color just like hers. the nail biting promptly stopped and my baby gad bright blue blueberry scented hair. the habit has come and gone with her and brobery usually works. Come to think of it bribery usually works with #2. #3 just started this week. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/crap.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="crap">:
 

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My little girl started picking her nails when she was 4 1/2 and finally stopped on her own right before she turned 7. We tried everything- bribery, taking away priveledges, like no nail polish if her nails are a mess (no, we're not big on punishments in our house, but her fingernails were literally half gone, infected and bleeding!), we showed her pictures of people online with fingernails that had fallen off, we had the pediatrician talk to her about it, we tried ignoring it, we tried being on her case constantly, we tried having her wear gloves or bandaids on her fingers, nothing worked. In retrospect, we were probably making her stress over it more and therefore making the habit itself worse, but we were tearing our hair out, because we were worried she might actually cause permanent damage, they were so bad! She just stopped on her own one day and hasn't done it since. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug">
 

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I am 40+ and a nail biter. It's mostly unconscious at this point. My folks tried all the pp mentioned, and I agree, it just adds a bunch of stress and makes it worse. It can also be a control issue - this is something the opposite of what you want, that they can control (and biting/picking can be a form of control), if they feel their lives are out of their hands, at least in my experience.<br><br>
DS went through a nail picking stage. We ignored it. I think I asked him to stop picking twice, which did nothing, and then I totally backed off. Not sure when he stopped, but he is 3 now and his nails are fine. However, and most important, if they wern't, I think I would still ignore it and let him be. I personally don't think you can change it anyway. My nails look like crap, but I don't give two hoots or a holler what other people think about it anyway.
 

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I agree with everything Allison has to say. I bite my nails to this day and I started when my younger sister was born. My parents made a huge deal out of it and I made sure to sneak off and do it when they weren't looking. I had extreme anxiety as a child that was never acknowledged or dealt with and I really could have used some help learning how to handle that rather than getting bribed and yelled at and band-aided and....
 

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Do a search for "picking" on the parenting forums and you'll find this topic discussed every few months. Maybe something helpful will turn up. My own opinion is that some people are just pickers/biters...a reply I posted to a previous thread on this topic:<br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I'm a life-long biter/picker and my DS1 is, too. At first DH and I would nag him to stop, especially DH, but then I remembered that the worst part of my biting habit was my mom constantly trying to get me to stop...and WHY? I'm a healthy adult, just not one with gorgeous fingernails. The only thing that can stop a biter/picker is if *they* want to stop. Pestering me, making me wear band-aids or bitter tasting stuff on my fingers, none of it worked - it only made me be more secretive. I have a distinct memory of hiding behind a chair at age 3 or 4, so that my mom wouldn't see me biting my nails.<br><br>
We do discuss DS1's biting/picking habits in the context of understanding natural consequences of them - like if he ends up with a tender cuticle, a hangnail, or a bloody nose (he picks his nose). I try not to do this in a reprimanding way, just something like "yeah, when you pick your nose it can break blood vessels inside" or "biting your fingernails can sometimes make your skin tender". It's up to him what he does with that knowledge.<br><br>
If I were aware of nutritional needs or specific stimuli (like stress or boredom) that increased his biting/picking, I'd try to address those things rather than the habit itself.</td>
</tr></table></div>
 

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My dd is 7 and bites her nails. When she was a baby she sucked her fingers, but then when started Kindergarten she just decided that she was no longer a baby and she stopped on her own. She became a nail biter after 1st grade b/c she was nervous about taking tests in school. She is pretty much a perfectionist w/her schoolwork and stresses waaaay too much over it. I figure if she can stop sucking her fingers on her own, then eventually she will stop the nail biting. I also used to be a nail biter and am sometimes now a nail picker. I also notice that my mom is a nail picker too. Which makes me wonder if this is a hereditary thing.
 
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