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Question
Posted by: bunny | 2004/11/12

nail biting

My 15 yr old teen can't stop or won't stop biting his nails, fingers. He seems very nervous and loves to just run and run circles in the garden! Help! What can we do for him? He plays a fast moving sport nearly 4 times a week and seems balanced in his life. But this nervous biting and running is making me feel very bad as a mum. He seems terrribly stubborn, will not listen to pleading or scolding.

Help please.

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Our expert says:
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Well, bunny, for a start, stop feeling bad as a mum --- you sound like a marvellous mum ! nail-biting is very common, and hardly ever either caused by or causing significant problems. It's a bad habit many of us get into, and then get out of, often with no specific reason. It may get a bit worse at time of stress. And running about probably simply expresses an excess of energy. Both boys and girls may bailbite, and often stop when they reach that point that they start to get interested in the opposite sex, and start to worry about their appearance --- sothe idea that others, especially girl-others, might think his bitten nails look uncool, maybe childish, is usually enough to make him want to stop. He can be helped, if he at first firnds this difficult, by some of the products on the market which can be pained on the nails and taste horrid --- a useful reminder when one absent-mindedly nibbles nails while watching TV or reading, etc. And the excess energy might be better used if he took part in more organized sports, or even joined a gym --- and again, once he starts feeling aware of his appearance, such an idea might appeal to him.
So pleading and scolding don't work well, as you've discovered, but these other approaches or angles, might do so ; if not immediately, then in a little while as his hormones kick into play, and he starts to value a cool appearance.

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