One awesome thing about being a dad is seeing how similar my tiny humans are to me, and watching their personalities develop.
My oldest son is my exact clone (he looks just like me) and it freaks me out sometimes. My wife's clone is our youngest; he looks just like her. Despite looking like me and sharing a love for some of my same hobbies, my two-year-old has a nasty nail biting habit. In fact, there are nights that he cries out that his hands hurt because he has sucked on them until they are raw. THAT definitely didn't come from either of us. When he whined or cried, we used to try to explain to him that this is a direct result of his nail biting. However, our words and his negative experiences weren’t enough to keep him from biting. That’s when we started to get creative. Here are a few different tips that we have done that have helped our son’s nail biting:
Since my son loves to chew on his fingers, we figured we should replace his bad habit with something better. Much like smokers attempt to stop their habit, we gave chewing gum a try. (Don’t worry; we didn’t use gum that has nicotine to curb his habit.) He loved the idea at first with the wide variety of flavors and options that the grocery store had to offer. We tried a lot of different flavors, but he didn’t seem to grasp the idea of chewing gum. He would chew it for a couple of minutes and swallow, then demand more. It only took us a few tries before we realized that this tactic wasn't going to work. We also started to wonder if our son just had problems following directions.
Apparently, my son has an affinity for sour candy. Whenever we go to the store and he looks at treats, he somehow manages to pick out the sour candies. This really blows my mind because he’s two and reading isn’t his strongpoint. Anyway, he usually picks out chewy and sour candy that will keep his mouth busy for an extended period of time. If it will keep his little sausage fingers out of his mouth, I will buy him all the sour candy in the world. (Side note: he tried War Heads for the first time and thought it tasted like medicine. I guess not all sour candy is a go for him.)
My wife did some research on our finger-nibbling toddler and discovered that electric toothbrushes can help. The vibrating sensations soothe his mouth and destroy any desire to chew on his hands. We have seen the most success with this tip and got him is favorite super hero Iron Man to help him not bite his fingers. As an added bonus, the extra brushing helps fight the damage of the sugary candy and chewing gum that he has been trying.
The battle will continue for a while until he outgrows it. He has improved a lot with just keeping his mouth busy and the sensations of his toothbrush. If he were to regress in the near future, we have the big guns waiting: nail-biting fingernail polish.