Teaching a little girl to stop biting & picking her fingernails

My youngest daughter, now 8 picks her nails when she is worried, nervous or bored. She has always wanted long nails but can’t stop the habit.  Her nails are so low and there are times that she has picked them so much they become painful.  Over the years we have tried many things, but lately I have found when I put nail polish on her nails she doesn’t pick them.

At the beginning of school holidays I always have a pamper session where I paint the girls fingers and toes, so usually by the end of the school holidays Miss 8’s fingers are starting to grow, somehow she doesn’t pick them when she has nail polish on.  But as she isn’t allowed nail polish at school we have to remove it and then she reverts back to her old ways.  However being that she is trying so hard to beat this habit I’m going to put some nude polish on her nails while at school.

Miss 8 asked me these holidays to make a chart for her.  She said ‘mummy you remember the chart you made me, to help me stop wetting the bed, can you make me a chart the same so I can to stop picking my nails and when they have grown you can give me a reward like a new book’.  I thought it was a fabulous idea, one because I really want to help her to grown her nails and two I’m more than happy to buy her a book to encourage her to read more.

So these holidays I created the ‘I’m growing my fingernails chart‘, which are available in my shop. Various designs to choose from, for boys and girls.

I’m growing my fingernails chart

I’m growing my fingernails chart

visit shop to download

Do you have a clever tip for kids to stop biting their nails?

 

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27 comments

Rach July 2, 2013 - 12:16 PM

I have the exact same problem with my daughter. It is difficult when she makes progress, but it takes so long to grow the nails to any length and such a short time to pick the nail right back off again! Nude nail polish might be just the ticket. My mum (a clinical psych) has also suggested a bracelet or similar (again, can’t wear jewellery to school, so I have substituted a hair elastic with a bobble on it) that she can fiddle with when she feels the urge to pick her nails. Also carrying around (where possible) and going to bed with something silky that she can stroke when she is trying to calm/settle herself.

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Kirsten McCulloch July 8, 2013 - 3:56 PM

Thanks for those ideas! nail polish hasn’t made any difference to my daughter, but I will try those. Something to fiddle with, yes.

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muleyqueen July 2, 2013 - 2:44 PM

My daughter picks at her nails because she wants them short, but then she picks them too short and then they hurt her. I think I can use this as well to help her, thanks!

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www.themumontherun.wordpress.c July 2, 2013 - 7:31 PM

These are great. Our 6 year old does the same thing. You read my mind. I was trying to think of something.

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Holly N. July 3, 2013 - 5:07 AM

I like this idea but I have been afraid that my DD would bite them with the polish on. I think I will run the idea by her to see if that would be incentive enough to leave them alone IF I paint them. Thanks!

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Roz July 3, 2013 - 6:45 AM

When I was 8 I bit my nails and because I wanted to stop I asked my Mum for a manicure set. She bought me one of my own and i have never bitten my nails since. My suggestion would be to buy Miss 8 some nail products of her own – my favourites are a glass nail file and nourishing oil to rub into nails and cuticles morning and night. Don’t forget the fun products for holidays and special occasions!

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Kirsten McCulloch July 8, 2013 - 3:54 PM

Oh I hope this helps. My eldest daughter – who has just turned seven – bites her nails too, down to the quick. She has done it since she was a year old, which always made me wonder if we should have tried harder to get her to take a dummy! Unfortunately, putting nail polish on has never helped – within hours it’s half picked off. Sigh.

I must say, I also bit my nails as a child, and tried over and over to stop. Then when I was about 15 or 16, I just did. I don’t know why, didn’t know why at the time. Finally I just could.

Anyway, good luck, hope the chart helps!

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Katrina July 8, 2013 - 4:08 PM

She is 9 days in and it’s worked so well. I took the nail polish off her nails yesterday and she has little white lines at the top showing growth. She picks her nails and finds it harder to pick them with the nail polish. We also visited the bookstore a few days ago so she has picked out her book. I didn’t buy it, I told her we will go back and get it when she has completed a full chart. I’m so proud of her. Hopefully the chart can help your daughter too!

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Sarai July 11, 2013 - 6:36 AM

My daughter will be 8 in 2 weeks and she will eat all the of the nail polish off of her nails 🙁

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Katrina July 11, 2013 - 9:30 AM

Sarai, my daughter is progressing really well. I ended up putting a undercoat of clear nail polish, then 2 layers of coloured nail polish with a final topcoat of clear nail polish. My daughter is a picker and this has stopped her from picking because she can feel the thick nail polish and instantly reminds her stop, I’m trying to grow them. Hopefully your daughter might get to a point sometime soon that she wants to stop biting and grow them

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Mia July 12, 2015 - 1:50 PM

What about a chart for boys????? please

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Rachel Callus July 17, 2013 - 11:43 AM

When I was a teen, I remember my cousin (same age) also bit her nails, her older sister said that when she can see all ten fingernails over the top of the fingers she would give her $20. That worked for her!! I’m 23 and still bite them a lot. If I have an event, like a wedding I can stop biting them a few weeks before so that they’re nice… then about a week after, I BITE THEM ALLLLL!!! So annoying.

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Tricia Greig January 1, 2014 - 9:36 AM

any ideas for boys?

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Michelle W January 14, 2014 - 2:09 PM

My 13 year old son is a chronic nail biter, to the point where a couple of fingers no longer have a visible nail. A month ago we decided to let him chew gum (I despise gum chewers, but you can’t chew nails if you’re chewing gum) and his nails are growing back slowly.

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Katrina January 14, 2014 - 2:29 PM

That’s a great idea Michelle!

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Tricia Greig January 16, 2014 - 2:21 PM

Great Idea, Thankyou

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Lisa August 4, 2015 - 6:51 AM

I have a 13 year old boy too who is the same. That is such a great idea thank you.

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Deb Horne January 20, 2014 - 8:33 AM

How about boys, One my boys does the same.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 13, 2015 - 8:49 AM Reply
Cindy March 11, 2014 - 12:21 PM

Hi. Is this avalable for Boys??? My little man does the same.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 13, 2015 - 8:50 AM Reply
stephanie November 26, 2014 - 8:11 PM

My daughter is 8 and we have the same
Problems her glamourous auntie booked
A manicure at a posh salon in
6 weeks and gave her
A voucher and explained she would
Have to grow her nails for it
Worked a treat albeit a slighly more
Expensive solution but they had
A great day ( my sister has two boys!)

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Prahala July 12, 2015 - 9:50 AM

Hi, my daughter is 2years old and she is already hooked onto this habit, any other ideas mums how I could stop this??

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Kate - Kat's Assistant August 6, 2015 - 11:52 AM

Prahala, i think the nail chart would also work well for your daughters age.:)

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Susie November 27, 2015 - 11:33 AM

I’m in my 40s and took myself for hypnotherapy 2 years ago – and stopped biting my nails. I don’t know why but I’m back to biting them again. It’s true – with a bit of polish on my nails look so much better and I try really really hard not to pick them, but the polish comes off and my nails get bitten… Yuk – such an awful habit. I really want to stop. My incentive is glamourous looking nails – but I can’t seem to manage it.

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Rachel March 14, 2016 - 12:14 PM

So glad you made a boy one too. I don’t think it would work with a toddler though, my almost 2yo bites his nails. Not sure he’d get the concept of a chart.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 15, 2016 - 7:45 AM

he may not just yet, but he’s certainly getting to the age where you can start working with him with charts, especially through potty training stage too 🙂

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