/Squashing Children’s Bad Habits

Squashing Children’s Bad Habits

Dear Sara,

My five year old has been biting her nails. I try to make her stop but as soon as I leave the room, I know her finger will be in her mouth again. What can I do to get her to stop?

Dear Jennifer,

By paying attention to your daughter’s nail biting you tend to reinforce it. She’s using this to comfort herself, kind of like sucking her thumb and by paying attention to it you maybe bringing it to her attention as well but paying attention to it won’t get her to quit.

Is there something going on right now that is stressful for her? You might try to give her some time to rock with you or a back rub while she watches TV. She may just be a child who is hyperactive and this is the way she calms herself. Nail biting is like any other habit, it will be hard for her to quit. My guess is that if she continues she will quit when she is a teen because she will want to look good.