Nail biting is one of the most common habits that toddlers show when they are between 2-3 years of age. Unlike such other habits as head banging, thumb sucking and teeth grinding that toddlers overcome when they attain four years, your toddler can engage in biting his/her nail(s) right to when he/she becomes an adult.
Like with other toddler-hood habits, your toddler can engage in the habit of biting his/her nails for different reasons. It may be because he/she is bored, when sleepy or to find relief from pain. It may also be that your toddler engages in the habit because he/she sees another toddler or sibling biting his/her nails.
There are different ways toddlers bite their nails. Knowing how your toddler bites his/her nail(s) can help you understand when and why he/she engages in the habit. Your toddler can engage in the habit unconsciously when watching TV. He/she will do so unconsciously and no injury may occur. Your toddler can also engage in the habit when in fear brought about by a circumstance or situation, in which case tears follow. Such fear can be because of a parental style you have adopted, which can be harsh and cruel.
Although nail biting is generally accepted as a normal habit that toddlers overcome as they grow up, it has been noted that toddlers brought up in insecure environments are prone to engage in the nail biting habit compared to toddlers brought up in secure areas. It may just be necessary to re-evaluate a parental style you have adopted. It has also been observed that toddlers who engage in the habit turn out to be toddlers without a deep attachment to their parents and especially with their moms.
There are several ways you can help your toddler this habit that can otherwise make you irritated especially when in public. The first is to investigate why and when he/she engages in the habit. It may be as simple as your parental style, which you need to address. Your toddler still needs the care and attention that you used to provide when he/she was a baby. You simply need to make your toddler feel safe and secure.
The worst you can do in trying to help your toddler overcome the habit is to resort to punishment. Nail biting is a habit that does not require any form of punishment. What your toddler needs is assistance and help that helps him/her stop the habit. On thing you need to do is find a way of distracting him/her from the habit, which can be by introducing an engaging activity when he/she usually engages in the habit.
Your toddler should be able to overcome the habit by the time he/she turns four years of age. However, there is always the danger that he/she can continue to engage in the habit even when he/she is over five years of age. You need to consider such as a severe habit that may be the symptom of a deep underlying problem, which can be a medical condition or extreme anxiety. You have no other option but to seek advice and help of a pediatrician.