My 5 year-old has developed some anxiety. My first observation came after we moved from my parents house, this is strongly related. Since moving I have observed the following symptoms in my child: night bruxism (grinding teeth), nail biting, and shirt sucking/chewing. I am extremely concerned about the nail biting, she practically has no nails and she even bites the nail plate. Her little fingers look especially dreadful. She has not been able to stop this habit on her own or with my help, even though it causes her pain. To date the following attempts have been unsuccessful:

  1. Manicuring - with the hope she would not want to bite because her nails looked good.
  2. Incentivizing - designating (using a bandage as a reminder) one nail at a time as "protected" and promising a reward for not biting. With the intention of adding another nail each week.
  3. Anti-bite nail polish. This works for her, but not for me. She touches my lips when she's falling asleep (she likes the texturs so that soothes her), and the anti-bite nail.polish was all over my mouth.
  4. Professional help.
  5. Substitution (e.g., pencil)
  • You can get some paint to stop that as it tastes horrible.
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 9:02
  • I already do that (read the 3)
    – NicoleM
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Biting her nails is only a symptom, so 1, 2, and 3 are not getting to the core issue. Indeed, it is also quite possible that you drawing attention to it is increasing her anxiety.

Solution 5 might save the nails, but it doesn't address the anxiety.

Solution 4 or some variant of it is the only way to go, addressing the anxiety. Possibly some way of increasing her self-esteem could be the way to go.



Dave has good points, and Nicole you stated it is anxiety in your post - but then asked about nail biting. Focus on the anxiety and not the nails. Therapy does address anxiety, but so can you. There isn't anything abnormal about being sad from leaving a home, and with some effort you can learn how to address it - then with time and patience you can exercise what you've learned. Paying someone else to do it shouldn't be the first attempt (in my opinion - not that you are doing that). Love her and let her know her feelings are okay. Who she is as a person is OK!

  • I'm always validate her feelings. When I was young I feel so many things, but I always keep it to myself, that bring me some troubles growing up (and still does). I don't want that my girl suffer, so maybe I'm overreacting on all this things and the only thing that I have to do it's not foccusing on that things...but the wonderful thing she does.
    – NicoleM
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 17:57
  • If my answer sounding condemning I did not mean it that way. Being engaged and looking for help and insight is so important for all of us! I think it is great that you're discussing your feelings with other parents and experienced people. All of your worries and feelings are just as valid as hers. We parents have sensors that go off warning us about our children. Sometimes they are right on and other times not (or something from our past sticking its head up). Either way, talking about it is a great way to work through it.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 18:40
  • Adam, I don't take it that way! Don't worry ;) sometimes I tend to think that I'm overreacting (that's it's how I am).
    – NicoleM
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 15:47

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