Kids frequently develop bad habits that are simply bothersome. The four most typical are:
Thumb sucking, nose picking, hair twirling, and nail biting
Relax despite the fact that these habits may annoy or even worry you. Most of the time, developing a habit is only a stage in a person's regular developmental process and is not alarming.
Describe a habit.
A habit is a pattern of action that a youngster engages in repeatedly without typically realizing it. In contrast to their parents, children may be blissfully ignorant of a habit.
And don't be shocked if your child frequently has one hand in their mouth and the other tangled in their hair: Habits frequently occur in groups.
The most typical behaviors among children and teenagers are detailed below:
If you've ever had your nails nibbled all the way down, you're not alone. One of the most prevalent childhood vices is chewing or plucking one's nails. 30% to 60% of children and teenagers are thought to chew on one or more fingernails. And on rare occasions, a child could even bite their toenails.
In their younger years, both boys and girls seem equally prone to the practice; but, as they become older, boys are more likely to bite their nails.
The likelihood is that your daughter is the hair-twirler among your children. Girls are more likely than boys to twist, stroke, or tug their hair.
Early children's hair twirling can be a sign of hair tugging, whether or not there is hair loss. But as people age, a lot of people cease twisting and pulling their hair. Simple behavior adjustment can assist people who don't break the habit.
Although it typically starts in childhood, nose picking seems to be a behavior that can last into maturity. If you find that difficult to believe, consider the fact that a 1995 study of adults revealed that 91% of them picked their noses on a regular basis and that 8% of them admitted to eating what they picked!
It is believed that children like to suck with their thumbs because as infants, their motions brought their thumbs into contact with their mouths. In addition to or instead of sucking their thumbs, some children also suck their hands, fingers, or entire fists.
Up to half of children between the ages of 2 and 4 who suck their thumbs are the youngest thumb suckers. Many children suck their thumbs to relax and feel better. However, thumb sucking that continues past the age of 4 to 5 can lead to concerns including dental abnormalities (such an overbite), infections in the thumb or fingers, and bullying.
How Does a Habit Form?
Although experts aren't always sure what triggers habits, they are taught actions that typically have a favorable effect on the youngster.
Habits can emerge as a kind of amusement for a child who is bored or, more frequently, as a calming technique for one who is anxious. The next time you notice your child biting their nails or twisting their hair, try to think back to a period when they were under stress. If so, your youngster may be acting out in an effort to decompress, much like you might by going to the gym. On the other side, some youngsters develop routines when they're unwinding, such as when they're listening to music or drifting off to sleep.
Some habits could date back to childhood. Thumb sucking is a typical self-comforting action in infants that is enjoyable to associate with meals and the end of hunger. As a result of its favorable connotations, it might persist into childhood.
Or possibly the cause of your child's nail-biting can be found in your own reflection. Bite your fingernails? According to studies, there may be a significant familial or hereditary component to nail biting.
Some kids develop bad habits to get their parents' attention or to control them. Children who feel that their parents are not paying attention to them may carry out the unpleasant habit because they anticipate a response from Mom or Dad.
How to Manage Your Child's Habits
The good news is that most habits go away as children grow older or stop needing them, usually by the time they start school.
But if you believe it's time to assist your kid in breaking a habit, think about taking these actions:
- Explain your displeasure with the action in a calm manner. With children as young as 3 or 4, this strategy can be utilized to help raise their awareness of the issue. "I don't like it when you bite your nails," you might say. It has an ugly appearance. Could you perhaps attempt to stop? Most importantly, avoid reprimanding or lecturing when you notice someone gnawing their nails. Criticism, ridicule, or punishment could make the conduct worse.
- Include your youngster in the habit-breaking process. If your 5-year-old comes home from kindergarten crying because the other kids teased him about sucking his thumb, realize that he is trying to get your attention. Parents can inquire of their children whether they wish to stop the habit or what they think they could do to do so. Together, come up with some strategies for attempting to break the undesirable habit.
- Introduce alternate strategies. For instance, if your youngster bites their nails, try saying, "Let's wiggle our fingers," rather than, "Don't bite your nails." This may act as a reminder and raise awareness of the behavior. Try offering a distraction to keep your child's attention engaged, such as having them assist you in the kitchen or engage in craft projects.
- Praise and reward restraint. For instance, if your young girl allows her nails to grow, let her use nail polish. Alternatively, reward your son with a sticker or other little reward each time he refrains from sucking his thumb to promote good behavior.
- Rewarding positive conduct should be consistent. If you don't pay attention to positive behavior, it will eventually stop happening. Before the old habit vanishes, the new, constructive one needs to become firmly established.
- Children must be inspired to break the habit in order to succeed. Being patient is advised because it takes time for habits to form and for new behaviors to replace them.