Works For Me Wednesday: Nail Biting

Liam has been biting his nails for about a year. This habit consumed him so greatly that he had whittled his nails down to mere nubs, all ten of them. I tried applying different terrible-tasting remedies to his fingers but to no avail. Whether it was the cheap $2.89 bottle from Wal Mart or the high-dollar purchase from the internet, no lotions, creams or polishes helped him. I had even broken a house rule and allowed him to chew sugarless gum at all waking hours in an effort to keep his mouth busy on something besides his nails. This helped somewhat but not enough to merely break the habit. I had given up, thinking that he would have gnawed-off nails for life. That is until my mom had an excellent idea.

Didi, as he affectionately calls her, told Liam that if we would stop biting his nails, then she would take him to Target, his favorite store, a boy after my own heart, and buy him a special surprise. Within days, he was catching himself in the act and would tell me, "I don't want to bite my nails anymore." Within two weeks, I was having to trim his nails. And a couple weeks later, Didi came through with her promise and took Liam to Target. He was thrilled to pick Hot Wheels Blast and Crash, a battery-operated track for his favorite cars.

He's had this toy at home for two weeks now, and he has still not resumed biting his nails. He's so proud of himself! Was this bribery? Maybe so, but it worked for us!

For more helpful tips, please visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.


Lori said...

I will definitely have to try this with my youngest. Her nails are bitten, and the tops of her fingers get irritated from being in her mouth.

Thanks for posting this great idea!

MamaEscandon said...

This is positive reinforcement. My little brother bites his nails and my parents threaten to take thing away or only give him a birthday party if he stops. I may suggest this to them, maybe they will have more success! I bite my nails, so does DH... and theres no stopping us!

UKZoe said...

I don't know what else to suggest expect to say that I eventually grew out of it in my teens, my nails used to be just the way you describe and now they're not.

diatribal said...

I'm in my late 20's and I still bite my nails. I can't seem to stop, at all. I wish someone had tried this when I was younger! My parents only used the bitter stuff and I bit right through that. They even tried taping my fingers to my palms....that just made me mad!

I am so glad that you have found something that works for your little one. I hope your success continues!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ami! I love reading your blog - I check every day :-) And I love your Works for Me Wednesday! I've also started blogging . . . I figured if a busy mom of 3 boys can do it, I can, too. Check it out at

Keep blogging cuz I love reading them!
Jodie Boedie