How Can I Stop My Child From Biting Her Nails?

Parents > Q&A > Emotions and Behavior > How Can I Stop My Child From Biting Her Nails?
How Can I Stop My Child From Biting Her Nails?

My 6-year-old daughter bites her nails constantly. How can I get her to stop?
- Colette

Nail biting is one of the most common childhood habits. Some studies estimate that 45-60% of kids chew on their nails!

Nail biting, like most habits, often disappears on its own as kids outgrow the urge to do it. In the meantime, avoid threatening or punishing your child — these tactics tend to backfire. Instead, tell her why you don't like the behavior and offer her rewards for self-control.

You can also try having her wiggle her fingers for 30 seconds before she bites her nails — it may become too tedious of an activity for her to continue. Your child may bite her nails when she's under stress, so try to see if there's a pattern to her biting or if something is bothering her.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012

Have a question? Email us.

Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.

Related Articles
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.