Nail biting is an unsanitary, and sometimes, gross habit, but it goes beyond that. Nail biting can make teeth ragged, make them crooked, and even chip or break them. Habits that are developed in childhood are extremely hard to break as an adult, and that includes nail biting. If your child is biting his or her nails, now is the best time to ensure that they don't carry this habit with them into their adult lives. Here's how you can do it.

Gross Tastes

One of the things you can do is paint your child's nails with a very special product. Anti-nail biting solutions are sold at most drug stores. They're designed to have a bitter or spicy taste that makes it unpleasant to put one's fingers in one's mouth. This is especially effective on children, as most kids hate sour, bitter, and spicy tastes.

Keep in mind that it'll be up to you to apply the stuff, and it often requires reapplication after washing hands. You can also try using standard nail polish to help discourage your child, as nail polish often has an unpleasant flavor, too.

Nail Clipping

The second thing you can do is make a habit of cutting your child's nails short on a regular basis. This will help to prevent them from giving in to the urge of biting their nails because there won't be anything there to bite. It seems simple, but it's an effective step that even works for adults, so give it a try with your kid.


You don't have to just use negative reinforcement to get your kid to stop biting their nails. You can use positive reinforcement, too. Consider introducing rewards to your child based upon whether or not they're biting their nails.

This doesn't have to be a huge, big reward. It could be something as simple as the little one getting to pick what the family eats for dinner for a night, going to the park, or something like that. Explain to your child that you'll reward them for not biting their nails, and examine their nails every night when they go to bed. If they've done well, immediately praise them and plan on fulfilling their reward the following day. If they didn't manage to get through the day without biting, gently chide them and remind them that they can try again tomorrow for the same reward.

With these three tips, you can help to make it less appetizing and easy for your child to bite their nails, and you can help to reinforce the new, good habit with rewards. Make sure that you visit a dentist's office to ensure that damage hasn't already been done to your child's smile, too. For more information, talk to dentists like William E Kemper DMD.