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Question
Posted by: mka | 2010/04/22

Biting Finger Nails

Hi Doc.

I need some serious advice. My 6 yr old boy is biting his finger nails. My wife and I have tried everything from punishment,bribery, threatening him but he cant seem to get rid of this habit. The tips of his fingers are almost stumps. plse help, we are losing our minds

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Punishment doesn't work, and naked bribery doesn't work. Sometimes all the drama and anxiety sitirred up by your efforts to stop him, stir up the anxiety that causes him to do so, so the problem worsens. A child shrink copuld help if this has become really serious.
But otherwise a simple system can be set up in the family, offering him the bitter-tasting fingernail paint some pharmacies sell to help to remind him when he absent-mindedly starts to nibble, and a program of small rewards for each day without biting nails, and larger rewards for each week without biting. A day when he does nibble the nails gets no reward, and maybe loses a star towards the next significant reward, so he'll have to start a new full week again to earn his weekly reward.

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: Happiness | 2010/04/22

Nail biting is a sign of anxiety, fear or insecurity of some sort. He needs to learn some coping skills, which comes back to the CS point of seeking counselling. The ugly side of nail biting is if there is a cut on your fingers, the bacteria from your mouth can give your body a serious infection.

Reply to Happiness
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/04/22

Punishment doesn't work, and naked bribery doesn't work. Sometimes all the drama and anxiety sitirred up by your efforts to stop him, stir up the anxiety that causes him to do so, so the problem worsens. A child shrink copuld help if this has become really serious.
But otherwise a simple system can be set up in the family, offering him the bitter-tasting fingernail paint some pharmacies sell to help to remind him when he absent-mindedly starts to nibble, and a program of small rewards for each day without biting nails, and larger rewards for each week without biting. A day when he does nibble the nails gets no reward, and maybe loses a star towards the next significant reward, so he'll have to start a new full week again to earn his weekly reward.

Reply to cybershrink

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