The children between the age of 8-16 are habitual of biting their nails. There are different reasons for nail biting. The nail biting habit in children starts at any age. There is no particular age in which children start biting the nails. It is a type of nervous habit.

Nail biting is not a very harmful habit but it is an annoying habit. Depending on different children nail biting can be due to stress, anxiety, curiosity, excitement, etc. This nail biting habit can grow with age if parents don’t take any action. 

When not to worry regarding Nail Biting Habit

Most of the time children bite nails due to tensions or anxiousness. Some children bite nails when they are stressed. The children also bite nails while watching suspense movies, in the situation when their exam results are coming and many more. In these situations, there is no need to worry about it as it a way of coping up stress and nothing harmful 

What Causes Nail Biting?

There is no specific reason due to which children bite nails. Some of the common causes of nail biting are discussed below:

  • Sucking the thumb by children is a natural habit that is done by every child. The child and toddler biting nails make them feel comfortable. Even teenagers bite their nails in some situations as it gives comfort to them and is relaxing.
  • When kids feel bored or their hands are doing anything then they start biting the nails. For example – while watching TV, attending class, sitting without any work, and many more.
  • Children may bite nails to relieve their stress and anxiety. There are some situations when they fight with their family members or friends at that time they start biting nails. For example – during the 1st day of school, performance pressure in school, stress of exams and results, etc.
  • Nail biting is such behavior that children can pick up from their elders or siblings. They imitate the habits of others.
  • Nail biting in children can also develop through genetic connection. If in your childhood you were a nail biter, then there are possible chances that your children may develop the same habit.

Note: Severe nail biting can be a cause of the underlying situation. Don’t try to ignore it and consult with the doctor as soon as possible. This can be due to some underlying cause or due to any major issue which can be resolved by visiting a doctor.

Nail Biting
Nail Biting

How to Stop Nail Biting?

There are some parents who ignore the nail-biting habit of the children but this is not the solution or nail biting treatment. Parents should focus on their children and stop the nail biting habit of their children in a fun way. The nail biting habit of your child lets you know that your child is having any stress and suffering from anxiety.

There are different effective ways through which children can stop biting their nails.

Also Read: Why Do Babies Put Their Hand In Mouth?

Nail Biting
Nail Biting

1. Cut the nails 

You should cut the nails of your child 2-3 times a week. This will make the surface smoother and very less dirt will get stuck in the nails of the children. Now when children start biting their nails they find the surface smooth and fewer bacteria and germs enter in their mouth.

  • Take good care of cuticles
  • File the nail after cutting for making the surface smooth
  • Always carry a clipper with you
  • Properly clean the nails surface after cutting.

2. Substitute

Find a substitute for your child so that he/she starts ignoring biting nails. Look for something healthy and nutritious which the child can eat and keep in his/her mouth.

This will help the child to stop biting nails. Don’t find substitutes like sugar as it is again a bad habit and you are substituting one bad habit to another. Find something crunching, for example – snacks like celery. 

3. Change the focus

Let your child do something which will change their focus or divert their mind from biting nails. Engage them in some activities where their fingers will be busy. Give something in the hands of children through which they can play so that their focus shifts from nail biting

  • Fun activities – play some interesting games with your children and create a reward system. You need to make a chart and mark during the whole day when the child or at what time the child is not biting the nails. During a single day distribute the time like before breakfast, after lunch. Award the child with a sticker or points and give him rewards like a park trip with friends so that he/she engages in a particular activity and stop nail-biting.
  • Put nail polish –The nail polish tastes very bitter and horrible. Paint the nails of the child with nail polish. By doing this when a child bites the nails they taste bitter and terrible because of which they do not like the taste of the nails and stop biting their nails.
  • Pick a subtle signal – When your children start biting the nails give them a signal or tap on the arm of the child due to which he/she will get an alert and stop biting the nails. This will reduce the nail-biting habit of children very much. This also makes the children aware when they start biting nails.
  • Natural consequences – Take some natural consequences like biting nails regularly to make the child feel painful as nails become too short and they will stop biting nails. In this situation, you don’t have to do much, just cut the nails very small of the child and let them bite. When the children feel the pain they start avoiding nail-biting.


  • Don’t ignore such habits of the children as they become worse in the future and look annoying.
  • Try the ways to stop biting nails so that in future you and your children do not have to face any issues.
  • Don’t give too much attention as it can make the situation worse and they start more and more nail-biting.
  • It may take some time to overcome the nail-biting habit.
  • Try to know if the child is suffering from any stress or anxiety.
  • Invest your time with children to improve nail biting habits.

Also Read: 6 Tips To Finally Break Your Nail-Biting Habit