My son is 2 years and 6 months old. He often bites his finger nails and the skins around them. They sometimes get the the point of bleeding, and his finger nails are starting to get deformed. I also bite my nails, but my partner doesn't.

We have tried "stop it" (the yuck tasting nail polish) but it had no effect. He didn't seem to care. We have put plasters on them, but he just rips them off.

Any advice on how to combat this?

  • 2
    Do you bite your nails, or your partner?
    – Hairy
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 6:59
  • @Hairy, I do, my partner, no.
    – Petah
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 11:15
  • 1
    I think that's something to do with it, to be honest. I have only just stopped due to thinking I can't really ask the girls to stop if I can't, and they rightly have picked me up on this before. They've now joined me in a quest for princess nails (them, not me). I must admit, having long nails is a bit of a maintenance issue; I am forever cleaning them
    – Hairy
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 13:05

3 Answers 3


We went through this with my son a few years back when he was about the same age as your son. We had a few major changes that had happened in our life at the time: less time with us and more time with a baby sitter due to work schedules, recently moved, new baby brother. Aside from the nail biting, we saw other changes in his behavior such as more defiance and crying.

We made a few changes in our life that allowed us to spend more time with him, after which we saw drastic improvement with all the behavioral issues he was having. It also made the nail biting stop completely.

I'd say that this is mostly just a stage and will likely go away in 6-8 months. But see if there are any stressful changes in his life that you could somehow improve. If not, try to spend more time with him.

Also, kids copy like crazy, so don't model bad behavior by biting your nails in front of him. Make sure no siblings or caretakers are doing it either.


My middle child did this for a year so after trying the same things as you we started a reward scheme where if she managed to stop for a week she would get a small reward, working up to a 2 month cessation giving her a new doll she wanted.

It was obvious when she hadn't managed, and so we had to say "sorry - need to work harder at it to get the doll" and when she succeeded she was delighted - not just to get the doll, but that she had done what was needed herself.

  • How old was your child at the time? Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 9:06
  • @Michael - must have been 3ish.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 9:38

I've been a nail bitter for as long as I can remember. My sister also bites her nails, but has mostly broken the habit. I've always believed I picked up this habit from my Dad, as he was a nail bitter also, but I don't remember how I learned the habit.

I try not to bite my nails around my kids and thus far, they haven't gotten into the habit. Your kids will pick up some of your habits, both good and bad.

There can be many causes though, including stress (new school, etc), so it's probably best to talk to your doctor about it.

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