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Fingernails: nail biting toddlers!!!

If your toddler is biting his nails, you may worry that he's anxious about something. After all, many people describe nail biting as a "nervous habit." But anxiety is only one explanation for why children nip at their nails. Your toddler may be doing it for a number of other less worrisome reasons out of curiosity or boredom, to relieve stress, to pass the time, or simply from force of habit. By the way, of all the nervous habits which include thumb sucking, hair twisting, and nose picking nail biting is the most common (almost all kids do it at some point) and the most likely to continue into adulthood. About a third of elementary school students and half of adolescents bite their nails, at least for a little while. Still, chances are your child will stop the habit on his own, either because he loses interest or because his friends and classmates tease him about it.



Treatment of toddler nail biting: 2 strategies.

Strategy 1: Keep his hands occupied. If you can pinpoint the times and places when your child's particularly likely to bite his nails while watching TV, for example, or riding in the car try giving him substitutes such as finger puppets, a squeezable ball, or a bendable toy to keep his hands busy. Cut his fingernails short so there's nothing to tempt him to bite.
Strategy 2: Wait and hope. Beyond giving him toys to play with, your best bet is to ignore the behavior altogether. Your toddler's nail biting is an unconscious habit, which means he doesn't realize he's doing it until you call attention to it, of course so nagging and punishing won't help. And explaining to him how gross you think it is will probably just enthrall him and goad him into doing it even more. And if your child is in the throes of toddler contrariness when everything you ask for elicits a hearty "no" in response he might respond to pressure to stop by embracing the habit with full zeal.




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