Nail-biting is one of those habits that kids have which is hard to stop. Many parents have struggled with how they can get their kids to discontinue this practice. However, it seems that the harder parents try, the more determined kids are to defy our every effort to change their behavior. Perhaps there is something parents are missing in their approach. I just read an article over at Mom Junction with some good advice.
1. Refrain From Punishing, Talk Instead
You may be tempted to either scold or punish your kids the moment you see them biting their nails. But, don’t do that. Instead, have a chat with them. And, try to understand why they are indulging in this habit in the first place. Figure out the trigger point and then involve your children in the plan to resolve this problem. Perhaps, make it sound like a game or a “secret” mission. But, if they are old enough, try and make them understand the cons of biting their nails such as misshapen nails or social perceptions. And, in fact, you can also make an effort to come up with a solution together!
Image courtesy of: Eraserfish
This is hard to do. It's the first instinct for parents to want to simply tell their kids to stop. But nail-biting is not a serious problem. Treat as a normal situation and discuss what can be done about it.
2. Identify What Started It
For some kids, biting their nails can be a way to cope with school stress. And, for others, it can be just boredom. Is this habit old? Does it have any trigger such as shyness or hunger? If you figure out what the root cause is, it might become easier to find a solution for it. You can also take your partner’s help to determine if there is any set pattern.
Image courtesy of: Steven Vacher
Depending upon the age of your kids, this might be a little difficult to figure out. But if you can pinpoint something, there is an opportunity to see what others ways kids can learn to cope with that trigger.
3. Create A Distraction
If your kids are young, it might be relatively easier to distract them from biting their nails. Maybe, give them some healthy snack to munch on or hand them over a new toy. So, the moment you see your little ones going for their nails, think of a fun activity and just chip it in as a suggestion. And, see how miraculously this trick works!
Image courtesy of: penelope waits
I would prefer to say create an alternative. But if your child does this out of boredom, for example, we eventually want them to figure out how to solve their own problem instead of swooping in. This is a good place to start though.
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