Many parents find themselves clueless as to how they can help their kids outgrow common “nervous habits” in children such as nail biting and thumb sucking. Children normally resort to nail biting when they are stressed, or even when they are bored. But through time, this habit can linger even up to the child’s teenaged years. Studies even show that approximately half of kids from age 10 to 18 bite their nails at some point in time.

Thumb-sucking on the other hand is a childhood habit that stems from a child’s natural sucking instinct. And since it is part of the developmental stage of children, thumb-sucking in children younger than 4 years of age is not considered a problem. But when it persists beyond that age, the habit may eventually lead to dental and speech problems.

If you want to help your child outgrow these habits, here are a few simple tips that you may follow:

1.    Try to identify triggers. Since nail biting and thumb-sucking are considered as “nervous habits”, try to learn more about what your child is going through at the moment. Bear in mind that it is difficult to address a problem if you don’t tackle the underlying cause.

2.    Agree with your child on a system that will serve to remind him about the habit. In many cases, kids who are used to these habits are already doing it unconsciously. Help your child become more aware of the habit by putting a tape on the finger, or you may even use fun stickers. Just make sure that your child understands that these are only reminders to discourage the habit. Your child should not in any way feel that he is being punished when using this method.

3.    Stay supportive and keep communication lines open. Kids generally resist change because they see it as a threat to their security. It is vital that your child understands why you are helping him get rid of the habit. You can explain the detrimental effects through a story, and try to reassure your child that you will support him as he goes through the transition.

4.    Set up a reward system. For kids, rewards can be good motivators in correcting a habit. Be creative by marking stickers on days when your child managed to avoid the habit. Let him know that the stickers are convertible to points that he can exchange for treats or for trips to a play area. If you make it exciting, your child won’t feel too stressed about the entire thing.

5.    Use a product that can help stop nail biting and thumb-sucking like the “Mavala Stop-Nail Biting and Thumb Sucking Prevention“. This product is favored by many parents because of its effectiveness. Mavala Stop is like a bitter tasting polish that is designed to discourage nail biting and thumb-sucking. When kids associate nail biting or thumb-sucking with something very unpleasant, they may eventually learn how to live without it.

As kids go through the different stages of growth and development, parents need to assist them so that they can also outgrow habits, which may cause certain problems later in life. Just like weaning kids from the bottle, younger and even older kids may need some time before they can live without nail biting and thumb-sucking. But in a loving and supportive environment, you can help your child go through the transition smoothly.

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