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Why You Should Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumbs & Biting Their Nails

When your child starts sucking their thumbs and biting their nails, it may seem harmless. In fact, at first, it is. These habits begin as the baby’s first way to cope, but then they keep them from expressing themselves and dealing with their problems and emotions. Not only is it physically damaging to their skin and nails, but these habits are also emotionally and socially harmful. When you’re wondering how to stop nail biting in children or thumb sucking in toddlers, here are some reasons you should do the work to end the habit.

Physical Consequences

There are many physical consequences to thumb sucking and nail-biting. First, the skin can get irritated, cracked, and calloused. It can become infected and spread to other parts of the skin. These habits can cause ingrown nails, peeling, and cuticles. Whether your child is biting on their nails or sucking their thumbs, there can be a lot of negative physical consequences of continuing these habits. Thumb sucking can even lead to malocclusion, which results in an open or overbite. The thumb pushing against the teeth may cause them to be directed outwards, which may even require professional orthodontic treatment. Thumb sucking can even cause a speech impediment.

Emotional Consequences

Since thumb sucking and nail-biting are early coping mechanisms, if your child continues the bad habit they may have trouble developing better methods of coping. These habits have a significant effect on childhood development. Some psychologists have linked thumb sucking and nail-biting to other addictive behaviors. If the child doesn’t stop the bad habits, they will have trouble developing emotional coping strategies and expressing their thoughts and feelings. Since these habits are a form of self-comforting, they need to stop for other ways of comforting to occur.

Social Consequences

When a child sucks their thumbs or bites their nails, it could cause social consequences. They may not be able to express themselves or communicate with their peers. These kids may become the target of ridicule and teasing from others. There could be judged by the other kids, which could further the emotional consequences of the habits. It becomes a vicious cycle. As the child gets teased, they will return to the habit to comfort themselves and therefore have trouble communicating. Public ridicule is yet another reason why you should help your child stop these bad habits and encourage them to be their best.

Talk to Your Children

Since these habits are destructive to your child, as a parent you should talk to your children about it. Sit them down and explain why these habits will get in their way. You should encourage them to be the best versions of themselves. It’s necessary to stop them from continuing the bad habit into their adult years, becoming a full-fledged way to cope with their emotions and deal with their problems. However, you look at it, talking to your children about why they should stop biting their nails and sucking their thumbs is absolutely necessary.

See a Professional

When you’ve tried everything to get your child to stop sucking their thumbs and simply can’t get them to put an end to the habit, you should think about seeing a professional who can help talk to your child about the results of these habits and to you about how you can help them stop. There’s a reason that children cling to these early development habits, they are using it to comfort themselves, quell anxiety, feel a sense of control, and to keep their hands busy. A doctor who is a professional in childhood development can help you put an end to the habit.

Between the physical, emotional, and social consequences, there are so many reasons that you should help your child stop the bad habits of thumb sucking and nail-biting. If you don’t, they will have trouble developing, coping with their emotions, and getting along with their peers. While you could use a thumb guard or cloth thumbsie, if you simply can’t get them to put an end to the habit it may be worth seeing a doctor or a child psychologist to find new ways to help them stop biting their nails and sucking their thumbs. 


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