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Q&A:
How can I help my 22-month-old stop biting her fingernails?

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Question


My 22-month-old daughter has started biting her fingernails and will not stop. She sees her dad bite his. What can I do to stop her? She already has an infection under one nail.

Answer


Nail-biting, like thumb-sucking and hair-twirling, is what's called a comfort habit. It's very difficult for a child this age to stop. In fact, we usually advise parents not to worry about it until a child is 5 years old. Yelling at a child for biting her nails or shaming her won't help. In fact, it will probably raise her anxieties and make matters worse. There are, however, a few things you can do. Encourage your daughter to find other ways of comforting herself. Let her cuddle with a favorite doll or blanket. Let her suck on a pacifier. These will give her more options when she needs to quiet herself down. See her pediatrician to treat the infection. You shouldn't try treating it yourself.  
 
 
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