My child bites his nails, what should I do?

While your child seemed quite calm to you, you notice that he has started biting nails. Bad habit or expression of worry, even anxiety? If it can be helpful to understand the origins of this new craze, we do not worry too much: biting nails is not something serious.

Psychology: why does my 2- or 3-year-old bite his nails?

There are several reasons why your child may suddenly attack his nails:

  • An event came to disrupt his daily life : back to school, arrival of a little sister or little brother, unemployed parent, relocation … Even a new event that seems banal to us can have a disproportionate impact on him and be a source of stress. He then expresses his confusion by biting his nails, sometimes secretly, just as others run to pick up their duvet.
  • He simply decided to copy one he admires ! He sees his father, his school friend or his babysitter bite his nails and then behaves after facial expressions.

It may be relevant to understand the source of this new habit, more to soothe potential anxiety than to stop him from biting his nails. By itself, if he does not bite his nails before they bleed, this mania is nothing serious. And most often this mania disappears after a few days or weeks as it came!

Should you be worried if a child bites his nails?

L ‘nail biting – medical name of this little habit – is not serious! This gesture is by no means synonymous with instability or mental disorders, and you can be sure that your toddler will not necessarily become obsessive or full of nervous tics in adulthood if he bites nails like a little kid.

The little ones, like us, express their anxiety somehow: Some suck their thumbs or suck on a pacifier, others wiggle with a blanket or their T-shirt … and still others bite their nails. These little habits are a way for the child to control your worriesto externalize his sense of insecurity or nervousness.

Think about it anyway monitor the development of this mania. If things get worse – if he is bleeding from the fingers, or if this habit now preoccupies him permanently, do not hesitate to consult a psychotherapist or a clinical psychologist. When onychophagy is severe, there is a risk of infection and potential consequences on the skin of the fingers, nails, but also of the teeth.

These small habits are a way for the child to control his worries, to externalize his feeling of insecurity or nervousness.

Admittedly, this craze can be annoying to those around you, however Avoid focusing on it… Harassing our child, pointing out its flaws at all times will not be of any help to him. On the contrary, by tightening it on this habit, one risks achieving the opposite of what one wants, since the fact of forbidding him this gesture will only increase his desire, even need to do so. In addition, it is possible thatanother mania replaces thiswithout solving the source of the problem.

In the same way, we avoid public remarks or imitations to show him ” How ugly “. This approach risks being welcomed as a humiliation of our little one and can be detrimental to his psychological and emotional development. So let’s be more understanding and try to find solutions together.

Let’s discuss it with him privately: his gesture comes potentially from one inability to express his feelings. It is therefore important to find out what is bothering him, his source of stress: is the babysitter not doing well? Her relationship with her boyfriend Mathieu is no longer in good shape? calm him down! Thanks to our listening, he will no longer bear his discomfort alone …

It is also possible that our child, if in school, has started biting nails when he realizes that it increases his ability to concentrate. In this case, if it turns out that he is biting his nails bleeding or deforming them, he can be encouraged to concentrate on another thought or another mania to focus his thoughts and achieve concentration.

We can also look for someone around us who had the same mania as him and who can talk about it with our child. He will feel less alone and will be able to tone down His gesture.

The bitter varnish to help him stop

Brush her nails with a bitter varnish can bear fruit, but only if our child is involved: If the approach is perceived as a punishment, it will be ineffective and poorly perceived.

If this habit becomes really persistent and prevents him from concentrating on other activities, then let’s try to get him to practice manual activities if possible with us. Modeling dough, construction games or carvings … All you have to do is find something to record your hands together!

In video: My child is not listening to me? | Expert opinion

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