How Can I Stop My Child From Biting Her Nails?

Print this page Bookmark and Share

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 Resources

OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Psychological Association (APA) The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.

Related Articles

Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Harm? Find out what the experts have to say.
What Kids Say About: Handling Stress In a KidsHealth® KidsPoll, kids talked about what they stress about the most, how they cope with these feelings, and how they want parents to help.
Your Child's Habits Nail biting, hair twirling, thumb sucking, and nose picking - these childhood habits are common. Here's how to deal with them.
Helping Kids Cope With Stress Stress from things like school and social situations can feel overwhelming for kids. But by teaching healthy coping strategies, you'll prepare your kids to manage stress.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and


Upcoming Events

Jingle Bell Run/Walk is a fun, festive event for the whole family! Put on your reindeer antlers and your running shoes and come join us for some holiday cheer.

Join us for a special night with an all-star line-up of country music acts performing to benefit the hospital!

Car Seat Safety Check

View full event calendarView more events...

Health and Safety

Your child's health and safety is our top priority


The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815