The other day, I was at my daughter’s school for a parent engagement session and what I saw when I looked around was a bit of a shocker. Every other student in the classroom (which makes 50% of the class, by the way) was busy biting his/her nails – literally chewing on them as if it were a piece of delectable candy! And I thought to myself, not a problem exclusive to my household eh!
Incidentally, nail biting is a very common childhood problem, sometimes extending itself to the teenage years as well. It falls under the category of ‘nervous fidgety habits’ and is similar to other
irritating childhood quirks – THINK thumb sucking, teeth grinding and nose picking (yes, in public too!). When children bite their nails on account of boredom or curiosity, it is generally short-lived. However, when it is triggered by an underlying fear or stress, it can go on for the longest time.
On the same lines, if you wish to read about types of childhood fears and ways to deal with them, here is an article of mine which should give you enough load on the subject.
Coming back, my daughter had a pretty long nail-biting phase – it started at year 3 when her nanny left and she started nursery, went on through year 4 when she started sleeping by herself and right up until year 5 when she had to go through a school change. All life-changing events in the teeny tiny minds of our little babies! Through the years, to help her get rid of it, I have tried it all – polishing her nails with weird (yet safe) tasting polish, tying her hands together, putting gloves on, giving time-outs in the form of ‘no television’ but, to NO AVAIL. However, just when I had given up, I realized last week that for the very 1st time in 3 years, her nails were loonnngg enough for me to cut them! My baby girl had finally given up the habit, and just like that!
Maybe it had to do with the fact that with each passing year she was becoming secure of her surroundings, more confident of herself and mostly, more aware of herself as an individual – a precious little piece of my heart, but a separate entity nevertheless ♥
P.S. My recommendation for parents who are going through this – just hang in there. At times, ‘imposing’ just does not work with respect to kids. Sooner than later, with rising age and levels of maturity, they would give it up one way or another.