Many parents often notice that their children are biting their nails. This is a very common children’s habit. Of course, it does not look very nice. It looks even more repulsive when an adult does this.
Onychophagy is a mental disorder that is expressed as an uncontrollable desire to bite off the nail plate. Studies show that this habit is common among children of primary school age, most often among boys. In adolescence, almost half of all children have this bad habit.
We should not leave this and think that this habit will stop by itself, because in the future it can turn into a mental disorder that cannot be solved without a specialist. And most importantly - you need to find the reason why the child bites their nails.
Reasons why children bite nails:
There are two factors, psychological and physiological.
Physiological factors such as:
- The condition of the cuticle, in many children, the cuticle very often sticks out and they try to eliminate it themselves as they find it irritating.
- physical satisfaction. The child wants to achieve pleasure in all possible and impossible ways. For example, you do not allow them to eat sweets and then the child turns their attention to their nails.
- lack of vitamins. Perhaps there is a lack of the of necessary and important vitamins and minerals that are required for the nervous system. It is very important that the child’s diet includes foods containing magnesium, as well as vitamins E and B. These vitamins help to keep the nervous system calm.
-Adaptation period. Some children who are starting to join society may develop this bad habit. This is due to the fact that the child has been used to being in very close contact with their mother. When they go to kindergarten, these short-time separations from mother become stressful. The same thing happens when a child goes to school. Here the next period of adaption begins.
- Family circumstances. If there are quarrels, scandals and swearing the divorce of parents can often occur. These stressful situations may also lead to the child starting to bite their nails.
- All children love to copy the behavior of adults and their peers. If in a kindergarten group, classroom, playground or at home, someone bites their nails, then the children subconsciously repeat this behavior.
- Early or severe weaning from breastfeeding. Everyone knows that when a baby is breastfed for a long time, it calms the baby. If a baby is suddenly weaned from the breast, fingers can be a substitute.
- Some children try to distract themselves in different ways: twisting hair on a finger, spinning in one place, sucking fingers or biting nails. In this way children calm themselves, and if they break one habit, then another may take its place.
- Many children bite their nails and cuticles when they are bored or when they are unoccupied.
- If a child has a very high workload at school and they attend several clubs or classes, this can lead to tiredness. In this situation, they begin to fight neurosis by biting the nail plate.
It is necessary and possible to break this habit in children. If you leave this habit with no attention, it can lead to consequences, such as:
- Damage to the nail plate and cuticle;
- Slowing down the normal growth of nails;
- Infection of the skin located near the nails;
- Problems with teeth and gums due to the fact that fingers are constantly in the mouth;
- Under the nails is the place where the larvae of worms most often accumulate;
- Persistent illness due to reduced immunity;
- Ridicule by their peers and low self-esteem.
How to deal with this bad habit?
· Do not shout or scold your child in any way, as this will aggravate the situation. This can make the situation worse and the child may bite their nails because of their anger.
· A very important part of communication with a child is finding out the cause. You can ask your child to draw some kind of picture, and if black paint is present in the drawing, this indicates a problem.
· Spend more time with your child, hug more, kiss, talk about how much you love them, this will help the child to have more positive emotions.
· Show by your own example that you have well-groomed nails. If you have a girl, then teach her how to take care of her nails.
· Create activities for the child which will keep their hands busy. For example, let them draw, cut with scissors, glue stickers, sculpt from plasticine or dough, play lego. All these activities will help to develop fine motor skills.
· You can also tell your child about what can happen if they constantly bite their nails. School children can be shown which parasites can appear in the gastrointestinal tract. With a smaller child, you can examine the dirt from under their nails using a microscope.
· Teach your child about hand hygiene and follow the rules daily;
· It is necessary to provide the child with a favorable psychological environment. Spend as much time as possible outside. It is recommended that school-age children are not overloaded with classes and they should not be scolded for their grades;
· If you cannot solve this problem on your own, it is better to contact a psychologist.
Have patience and perseverance. Do not back down from your intended goal. Remember that everything is possible to solve.