My 9 yr old will NOT stop biting & peeling his fingernails down to nothing, I've tried everything!!

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JuLeah - posted on 12/16/2010

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Stress is the first place I go. What is this kid so stressed about? There are answers, and I assume you know, if you punish in a situation such as this, you make the problem so very much worse.
Diet can contribute to the behaviros you describe, but really, I am thinking stress. This kid is sending you a message with the only tools he has (he doesn't have words for this) so listen with more then your ears.
Ask his teachers, ask other adults that know him, talk with a professional even.

Louise - posted on 12/17/2010

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There is a product on the market called Stop and Grow which is a clear nail varnish that reacts when you put your fingers in your mouth and tastes foul. My brother was always making his fingers sore by doing this to the point that they would bleed. We never stopped him he is now 41 and still does it. I would just check that there is nothing more to this than a habit as it is normally the actions of a very nervous person and if that comes up with nothing try a reward chart. Your son probably does not know he is doing it as it is a natural response to them.

Laura - posted on 12/16/2010

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JuLeah is onto something here--this sounds like it is much more than just an annoying habit. Stress, frustration and anger can all lead to self-mutilating type behaviors.

The first step, however, is to take him to your family doctor or pediatrician to make sure that there is nothing physically wrong causing this behavior. Fungal infections, thyroid problems and diet can all create problems with nails. While at the doctor's you should discuss the possiblity of this problem being emotional/mental. Your doctor will be able to advize you on this only in the context of ruling out any physical cause. If there is no known physical problem, then ask for a referal to a behavioral specialist (most likely a psychiatrist to start) that deals with children so that you can schedule a consultation. Behavioral specialists are trained to help teach kids how to find appropriate and healthier ways to express their emotions. Your son seems to be trying to tell you something, but as JuLeah pointed out, doesn't seem to be able to articulate it. Counceling can help him with this. Hope this helps and good luck!

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Keshia - posted on 12/16/2010

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I used to do that when I was younger Im a really nervous person for some reason I would do it so bad I would get hang nails my fingers would be swollen and my mom would have to poke them with a pin to the the puss out eventually by the time I was like 11 I wanted a ring for christmas so my parents told me if I stopped biting them i could get it and I did you should ask his doctor if there is anything you could put on them that tastes bad so he wont want to bite them but its still safe that he wont get sick

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