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2 Bumps

My daughter Picks at her fingernails!

My daughter will be 5 in a few months.. she starts school in august. but recently for the past couple months she has picked up a habit of picking at her finger and toe nails... she will pick at them till the skin and cuticles around them start peeling back and causes her pain... It breaks my heart because i dont know how to stop it and i feel like im failing with her :/ hot sauce and stuff doesnt work because she doesnt bite her nails just picks and peels them please help!

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 10:55 AM on Jul. 10, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (7)
  • Find something she can do to keep her hands busy. Like a stress ball or something you can hand her whenever you see her picking/peeling. Does she realize she's doing it? If she does then you can set up a reward system for when her fingers are healthy looking and you haven't noticed the picking. But if it's something she is doing without noticing, you don't want to be punishing her for something out of her control.

    Answer by missanc at 11:31 AM on Jul. 10, 2013

  • Have you talked to her Pediatrician about it? Sounds like she is a little high strung. Are you like that? Maybe get her a hobby that she likes to occupy her time & takes her mind off that.

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 11:42 AM on Jul. 10, 2013

  • I would simply ask her the reasons for doing it. And see about approaching it as a concern rather then shame see if you can change the behavior. good luck!

    Answer by Sillylins at 12:10 PM on Jul. 10, 2013

  • Writing from experience, picking like that is an incredibly difficult habit to break. I've done it all my life, and unfortunately, my daughter has picked it up from me. Even a bad infection that almost caused me to lose my social finger off my right hand didn't stop the problem. The one thing that does seem to help is for me to keep my nails very short and well groomed because what usually starts the picking is a little ragged spot that I can't leave alone. You might try putting clear nail polish on your daughter's nails, since that will make them less likely to split and peel. Rub lots of Vaseline or cuticle softener in, maybe do your own as well, and make it into a mini mommy-daughter spa session. When her nails start looking nice, praise her. I also have a smooth stone I can rub between my fingers because I do tend to pick when I'm stresse.

    Answer by Ballad at 1:04 PM on Jul. 10, 2013

  • What if they are painted? Maybe she'd be less likely to pick if the looked pretty and she couldn't see all the cracks and peeling?

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 1:15 PM on Jul. 10, 2013

  • maybe it's a stress thing?
    I would go with what Ballad said
    and also ask the doctor about it as well he/she may be able to give you ideas on how to help

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 1:20 PM on Jul. 10, 2013

  • When you notice her doing it, engage her. Look into her eyes, do what you can to connect in some way. Take her on your lap, and make a point to give her your time & attention.
    Don't focus on the behavior at those times. Don't point it out, react, or tell her to stop, just substitute emotional connection & contact FOR the behavior when you (privately) notice that it's happening.
    Assume that it's happening for a reason & that it fills a purpose or need. Likely she's managing stress or stressful emotions. It happens. (Thumb-sucking, hair twisting, chewing on hair or clothing, and other behaviors serve a similar function in that way.)
    The goal is to substitute emotional/nourishing contact for the behavior, without being explicit about it or calling attention to it. Connect. This is rewiring habitual ways of coping, of handling feelings or keeping them patted down & out of conscious awareness, and it is possible to do so over time.

    Answer by girlwithC at 3:59 PM on Jul. 10, 2013

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