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DD (7) ripping fingernails

(8 Posts)
bananacarnival Tue 20-Jan-15 20:48:54

At my wits end, she's back to ripping off the tips of her nails (ouch!). Started doing it when she was 3 at nursery, the habit persisted for about a year. I tried all sorts of approaches - rewarding her when she didn't do it/ warning her/ confiscating favourite toys/ working towards growing pretty nails and decorating them with polish and gems etc...Eventually she stopped after I showed her some images of damaged nails.

This week, 3 years on, it's started again. She rips them to the point where they sometimes start bleeding. Often comes out of school wearing a couple of plasters across her fingertips and a guilty look.

As far as I know she is not biting them but tearing them off. I've had a frank discussion with her today and have asked her if she knows it will hurt - she says that she's aware that sometimes she'll pull off too much and it'll bleed and hurt. Apparently not a deterrent to her then.

Any suggestions?
Many thanks

ktab Tue 20-Jan-15 23:56:18

Could this be due to anxiety? Maybe it is her way of expressing herself without saying directly that she is unhappy about something? You could ask if anything is worrying her and reassure her?
Or perhaps she desires the attention and maybe you could suggest that she doesn't need to do that and you will listen to her anyway?
I really hope you get to the bottom of it... smile

bananacarnival Wed 21-Jan-15 10:27:06

Yes I've wondered the same ktab. I'll try to talk to her again. Not easy for her to express her thoughts though. Thanks

TranmereRover Wed 21-Jan-15 10:31:59

mine (also 7) does this (& toes) and I'm pretty sure it's anxiety. She used to also pick at her legs and make scabs. She had a long chat with a friend who is a trained CBT hypnotherapist who taught her a couple of diversionary tactics which have worked on the leg picking but not the nails. I think she derives some comfort from it all - she actively enjoys it. Annoyingly I have no further suggestions or solutions; I've found that drawing attention to it makes it worse - she gets very agitated if I talk about it

Feellikerubbish Wed 21-Jan-15 12:05:54

My 7 year old starting biting his nails when he was 4 and then it went into the skin on the tip of his fingers. He used to bite it until it would bleed or got really sore. At 4, i decided to ignore and so did the teachers at school, after a month, he just stopped. In year 2, now aged 7, he started again so again i chose to ignore but after 3 months, no luck. In the end, i chose the christmas period as it's a happy time to keep him distracted, painted a stop nail biting solution on his fingers and also bribed him that if he kicked the habit, he can get his favourite figurine. It worked but now back at school, he has started to do it again but i keep applying the solution so he's not doing it as much. I know your situation is different as she is not biting.

I researched... It is linked to stress/anxiety and OCD.

Is there anything at school or at home that could be making her stressed?

ktab Wed 21-Jan-15 13:52:57

Feellikerubbish, maybe he stopped over Christmas because he was at home with you, and not at school.

I think nursery/school can be a very stressful environment for some children. The same as work is for adults.

Is home schooling and option? (I know it's a huge commitment and lifestyle change.)

StayGoldPonyBoy Wed 21-Jan-15 14:01:16

I do this when I'm stressed/bored/anxious and have done since I was very small. DSis was born the same time I started nursery so my world was all back to front and I just never stopped. I wouldn't do it during school holidays or even at home. I stopped as an adult til I got a new job which I'm finding stressful.

Look into CBT definitely, I wish I had or my parents had rather than just shouting at me and rolling their eyeshmm, my nails are so brittle and flake off themselves when they grow past the point I usually pick them at. Is she doing this like the image I've attached?

bananacarnival Wed 21-Jan-15 18:37:16

Thanks all. Staygold, that's exactly what she's doing... And according to her she only does it during assembly which she says is very boring. She's been anxious in the past month or so about a few things at home but nothing major...

I'll try to see if I can get a CBT referral.

Thank you again

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