Some habits are just too hard to break. Nail biting or onychophagia is one of them. Many people try to quit it, but soon they relapse. So are there any effective techniques you can use anywhere in order to arrest, distract and refocus your nail biting urges? Here are some expert recommended, tried and trusted ways to stop nail biting in children and adults.
1. Get rid of underlying issues
Children often bite their nails unintentionally and most are completely unaware that they are doing it. Teachers and parents must talk to the child who bites nails regularly. Perhaps there may be a deeper issue at play underneath. Children having problem at home or school are more likely to indulge in nail biting. Talk with the child or its teacher to determine if there is stress at school. This is important step to stop nail biting in children.
2. Avoid scolding
Parents who want their child to stop nail biting must never scold, hit or punish as this could worsen the situation. Also avoid using terms like “grow up!” or other reprimanding sentences.
3. Keep nails trimmed and filed
In order to stop nail biting in adults or children, keep the nails trimmed properly. Encourage the child to keep nails attractive. Explain to them that nail biting damages the skin and cuticle, leading to unhealthy appearance. In adults, weekly manicures, attractive nail polishes and acrylic nails can enhance appearance and also deter the habit of biting. Wearing artificial nails is also an easy way to stop nail biting in adolescents.
4. Use stress management techniques
Adults and kids who bites nails must use stress management techniques to avoid this habit. Encourage children to take up a hobby or play sports or games. Adults can meditate, listen to relaxing music, practice deep breathing etc to reduce stress and anxiety. One can also chant or repeat a mantra when the urge to bite nails strikes.
5. Apply bitter/hot substances
This is great home remedy to stop biting nails. Apply some bitter stuff or hot sauce on the nails. This will prevent you from biting them.
6. Use ‘stop biting nails products’
Many great products are available in the market that can help stop nail biting. These include Stop Nail Biting and Thumb Sucking for adults and kids. It has a harmless bitter taste that reminds you not to bite or suck. A great thing about using this stop biting nails polish is that it also has special ingredients that encourage nail growth and heal the damaged cuticles quickly.
7. Keep active
Parents must encourage their nail biting child to indulge in other activities and interests like drawing, painting, using the clay putty etc. Adults and kids can also squeeze a stress ball or use fidget spinner to de-stress and stop nail biting. It is harder to bite nails when you are knitting, playing games on Smartphone or chewing gum.
8. Keep a record of the biting
Keeping a record of when the child bites nails is an important step in helping them overcome this bad habit permanently. Note down the time when you see your child biting nails. Adults too can record this habit as soon as they realize they are biting nails. Another great idea is to take a photograph of the bitten nails and place it somewhere it can be seen clearly. The sight of the unsightly nails can serve as a great reminder not to bite. Adult biters can also learn to understand thinking patterns. Often a nail biter likes to chew the skin around the nails. While sitting in class, or in a taxi or simply while bored- a biter will take a look at the skin before s/he actually bites it. This ‘taking a look’ is the prelude to a nail biting session. So observe the state of mind and put a stop to the thoughts. This observation can greatly help put a stop to the practice.
9. Try gloves, tapes or stickers
Wear gloves, wrap bandages or apply adhesive stickers on the nails to prevent nail biting. Colored stickers are a great reminder to children to no bite their nails.
10. Use negative conditioning
Snap a rubber band on the inside of the child’s wrist each time s/he bites nails. Negative conditioning in this manner is an easy way to stop nail biting in children.
11. Use meds
In rare cases, excess nail biting can be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder. Taking medication can help stop this obsession. Talk to your child’s doctor if this seems to be the case.
12. Just do it!
Like smoking, nail biting is best stopped cold turkey. Just do it! Do not think! Do it now. Observe your habit patterns and triggers that lead you to do it. Find alternatives to these triggers. With practice you will surely be able to stop nail biting once and for all.
We hope these 12 easy ways help stop nail biting once and for all.