How to Get Kids to Stop Biting Fingers: 9 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Your youngster may be finger biting in place of thumb sucking.

If your preschooler has picked up finger biting, then you've probably already guessed that it's not going to be an easy habit to break. In fact, it can be such a difficult habit to break that many school-age and even college-age kids still can't give it up. Finger biting comes from the same habit family as nail-biting, hair twirling, tooth grinding and nose picking. (It's okay to wrinkle your nose now.) Fortunately, with a little bit of understanding, you can help her break the habit before she walks down the aisle.


  1. 1
    Talk about what lies beneath but keep the tone of your conversation light. Often, nail- and finger-biting are anxious responses to things like moving homes, changing daycare centers, a new sibling or a recent divorce.
  2. 2
    Assess what's causing your munchkin to bite her fingers, which will go a long way in helping to solve the problem. Getting the underlying reason out of your youngster may be a difficult task. However, if you start probing with a completely unreasonable explanation, it may just giggle the answer out of her. Instead of suggesting a few real possibilities, come up with some outrageously silly ones. For example, “I’ve figured it out! You're trying to make your teeth sharper!” or “You're trying to make your fingers smaller!” or “I know--your fingers taste just like chocolate pudding, don't they?”
  3. 3
    Keep a chart to track the finger biting behavior if you aren't able to come up with a clear reason for the action. Sometimes, kids that are easily distracted often find it easier to listen when their hands or bodies are active, which may encourage the finger biting as well. It may be hard for her to explain this to you, though. Watch your little gal for the next day or two and make a note each time you notice her biting her fingers and what is taking place at that moment. You will likely be able to discern from your chart whether the finger biting is a result of anxiety or a way to avoid distraction.
  4. 4
    Avoid nagging and punishing your youngster for biting her fingers. Remember how much you hated to be nagged as a child? Nail- and finger-biting are also nervous habits, done unconsciously, so she probably doesn't even realize when she does it. Punishing her for the act is only going to add to her stress and anxiety, which will make stopping even more difficult.
  5. 5
    Keep her fingers clean to reduce the amount of germs that go in her mouth. If she bites her nails as well, keep them neatly trimmed to reduce that jagged-edge temptation.
  6. 6
    Talk to your child about the habit. Read or tell stories about habits to help her understand why she bites her fingers and why it's tough to stop.
  7. 7
    Provide her with an activity to use in place of finger-biting. She needs something to fidget with to occupy her fingers and keep them out of her mouth. Let her hold on to a craft stick when you're reading her stories and let her fidget with some modeling clay on long drives or when sitting through other long activities.
  8. 8
    Establish a way of letting her know when she's biting her fingers. You don't want to embarrass her by bringing it up in front of friends or family, so use a code word or signal to make her aware of her actions. You can make up a silly code words, like “jumping jiggle bugs,” to make it a gentle and giggly reminder or simply tap her on the shoulder instead.
  9. 9
    Provide plenty of praise when you notice her make a conscious effort to avoid biting her fingers through the use of an alternative activity. Also, praise her when you've noticed it's been a while since she's bitten them. (Even a few minutes of avoiding finger biting during a stressful time is a praiseworthy accomplishment.)


  • If your child is biting her fingers so hard that they bleed or become extremely sore, consult your child's physician. This may be a symptom of a more severe anxiety problem.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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