Does your child bite his/her nails? Many parents struggle over how to help their child stop nail biting, as well as other bad habits such as thumb sucking.
So I have put together this video for you with my advice for parents on how to stop nail biting in children.
(If you’d rather read than watch, there’s a link to a full transcript below.)
Be sure to check out “KIDS, THE MANUAL” for the fastest and easiest way to eliminate problem behavior in kids aged 2-12… Guaranteed! It’s full of tips for parents, along with simple, step-by-step methods to quickly and calmly eliminate behavior problems in children.View the Video Transcript
Dana Obleman: Hi. I’m Dana Obleman. Welcome to this weeks video blog. Today I wanted to talk about a bad habit that a lot of children have, and that’s nail biting. I get emails and requests all the time to talk about “How to stop my child from nail biting”, and that can be sucking on fingers is another popular one, sucking the thumb is another popular one, and everybody’s looking for strategies and tips on how to discourage that behavior in their child. So let me give you a few things you cans start watching for that will just help you at least attempt to curb your child’s bad habit. So the first thing I ask people to do is just monitor. Just get a little notepad and a pen, and for the next week just keep a close eye on your child, and start jotting down when do you notice she does this because the truth about bad habits are that they are rewarding on some level, and that’s why we continue to do them. So if you can pinpoint what triggers the behavior in the first place, that’ll be a great clue into how you can start curbing this.
So if you notice, you know, every time she hurts herself she sticks her fingers in her mouth, or every time she’s uncomfortable in a situation she bites her nails, or every time I raise my voice to her she starts biting her nails, and really get to the root of what causes her to go for that behavior.
And I would give that a full week of standing back and observing what leads your child down that path. Once you’ve really pinpointed some of the cues you then can start to, what I call distract, basically swipe, and deploy. So you would, you know, if she falls down and hurts herself, and you know that what she often does right after is stick her fingers in her mouth, then you can swoop in with an alternative.
So get there quickly. Offer a hug instead, or suggest she kiss her owie better, or give her something else that will offer up the same kind of comfort, just in a different format.
Or if you notice that every time she sits down to watch TV that’s when she starts biting her nails, and it’s more of a boredom issue than anything else, then you can be on top of it to distract her with something else. So instead maybe you offer her a bowl of grapes to eat while she’s watching TV instead, or you give her some coloring to do while she’s watching TV, so that it offers up a solution to that boredom she’s feeling, and prevents that from happening.
So those are the two really important ones, “What cures a behavior?”, and “What’s the reward?”, and if you can distract her with something else. You don’t want to get rid of the reward completely, but if you can figure out a new reward that she can start replacing the habit with, then that’s going to be very helpful.
A couple other things you can do too is offer a reward. I mean most children won’t give up a bad habit unless they feel internally motivated to do so, so rewards only go so far, but they’re definitely worth a try. If you say to your child “Listen, if you can go the week without biting your nails, on Friday we can have a special dinner out, or go see that movie you wanted to watch”, or some sort of rewarding activity, that might be enough motivation that she would at least attempt to curb her behavior.
I find too that rewards work really well if they’re as immediate as possible, so I might say something like, you know, “If every time you felt like biting your nails, and you didn’t, I want you to come and make a check mark on this chart on the fridge”, and every time you noticed her giving herself a check mark you offered her, you know, a couple of smileys, or a lifesaver, some sort of small reward. That might be what she needs to kind of get the ball rolling.
Once she’s on the roll, is getting the reward, is still getting that comfort that she needs from whatever that bad behavior is, the more she practices this the better she’ll get at it, and it is absolutely possible to break a bad habit. It really is. It just takes consistency, and time, and practice. So give that a go.
Now, the tricky thing is, like I said, just because you don’t want her to bite her nails doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s not going to, so the more you can make this about her, the better luck you’ll have.
If she loves the idea of having her finger nails painted you could say something like, you know, “If you can stop biting your nails for the next month we can go get manicures”, and really make it important enough to her that she’s going to try to at least attempt to break this habit.
All right? So it’s not impossible. I’m just warning you that just because you want it to happen doesn’t necessarily mean it will, but I would start with these tips, and see how far you get with it.
All right? Thanks for watching. Sleep well.
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