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Behavioral and Emotional Wellness

How Can I Stop My Child From Biting Her Nails?

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My 6-year-old daughter bites her nails constantly. How can I get her to stop?
- Colette

Nail biting is one of the most common childhood habits. Some studies estimate that 45-60% of kids chew on their nails!

Nail biting, like most habits, often disappears on its own as kids outgrow the urge to do it. In the meantime, avoid threatening or punishing your child — these tactics tend to backfire. Instead, tell her why you don't like the behavior and offer her rewards for self-control.

You can also try having her wiggle her fingers for 30 seconds before she bites her nails — it may become too tedious of an activity for her to continue. Your child may bite her nails when she's under stress, so try to see if there's a pattern to her biting or if something is bothering her.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012

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