Nail biting - Help, my child bites nails! What now?

Are you sitting on the couch watching TV together with your child, you suddenly hear a beating and gnawing next to you. Yes, he is biting again. 'Eat treasure, can I have a bite?'
I do not know how it is with you, but I think it's a real face when someone is gnawing at his nails, young and old. I can never fail to say anything about it. But apart from my irritation, it is not really that good for the nail either. But, how can you ensure that your child stops here again?

What is nail biting

There are all kinds of nail biting, the best known is of course biting the fingernails. This is called 'onychophagy' with a difficult word. But you can also - if you're still a little agile - nibble on the nails of your toes (podophagy) and finally you can still chew on the cuticles or remove pieces of soft tissue from the nail walls and / or fingertips (onychotillomania). But whatever beautiful words you give it, it gives me goose bumps and it is not so good for your nails. Maybe also good to know why there is actually so much nibbling.

Why do children bite nails?

The most important thing is to find the cause of biting. Many people, young and old, bite nails when they are anxious. Do you watch an exciting movie, for example? Then you can go nail biting through the tension. Children can also nail bitten because they are tense or anxious. Is your child, for example, shy? Then chances are that your child will be biting at social occasions. Therefore do not give the same penalty. It may be that there is an underlying cause for the behavior. So it is very important that you get above water which makes him so anxious.
This behavior can also result from habituation. The same principle applies to thumbs in children. It feels nice and works almost addictive. Does your child continue to bite nail and is it habituated? Then it is advisable to do something about it.

Is it really that bad and can it be bad?

Perhaps you wonder if this is really that bad? Can it really hurt to bite your nail instead of cutting it? There are plenty of reasons why you can best stop biting the nail. We have listed the consequences of nail biting below:


The difference between cutting the nails, or biting, is that the nail is not bitten evenly. This can cause cracks in the nail, which can have unpleasant consequences. This way the nail can completely tear up which is very painful. But it can also start to ignite and then you are even further away from home.

Weak nail

Biting the nail may weaken the nail. A nail does not grow evenly and can therefore become weaker.


By biting nail you can suffer from chapping on the side of the fingers. This can be very painful.

Bite too far

Once you start biting nails, it is often difficult to stop. Bitten nails can sometimes go very far. If your child bites too far, the nail can do very much.

No pretty face

Also, chapped nails look a lot less beautiful. As a child, you obviously do not spend a lot on it, but it can be very annoying in the long run.

Practical tips against biting the nail

Okay, now we know that nail biting is really not good. But stopping this behavior can be quite difficult, especially when it has become a habit. Therefore, some practical tips to throw in the battle.

Band aids

Lay the fingers with plasters making it impossible to bite the nail. It is a very effective way to let your child stop nail biting. That way your child can not bite unconsciously.

Nail Bunches

It can be difficult to always stick your child with plasters. You can also use nail bites. These pens have an annoying taste and by stamping this on the fingertips and nail it is a lot less attractive to bite.

Punish and reward

Determine with your child what the reward is if he or she stops nail biting. A nice game or a visit to a theme park? For children, rewarding often helps to adjust behavior well. You can also opt for penalties, but this is a negative approach and is less advisable.

Whether the biting is a phase? You can wait and see, but it is best to deal with this behavior directly. Make sure that your child's nails remain in good condition and prevent painful fingers.

Video: First with Kids: A variety of solutions for nail biting

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