Many a times parents suddenly start noticing that their kids are nail biting, hair twirling, blinking incessantly, nose picking, finger tapping, pencil chewing, excessive laughing or tickling. As a parent you wonder why the your kid has suddenly picked up a particular habit? All children go through a phase where if they are nervous, they display it through peculiar gestures. These gestures are child’s way of dealing with transitions going on in his life. And in a way, these habits hint a parent that something is unsettling their child. As a result, gives you a chance to comfort your child.
For kids it can be first day at new school, a new baby or getting bullied by peers. It could also be stress. Stress that kids undergo at their level is created by simple things that can easily go unnoticed by adults around. A kid can easily get stressed about homework, first day of school, stage fright, doctors visit, an argument– any kind of change of routine. These things can unsettle them in an instant.
But there is nothing to worry. Nervous habit doesn’t automatically mean a child is unhappy or poorly adjusted. Most of the times, these habits serves an important purpose and a developmental need, usually for comfort and when that need is fulfilled the habit disappears.
Most kids usually outgrow them on their own. Some kids need a gentle reminder time and again when they are at it and with time it fades away.
Parent must remember that no matter how much the habit puts them off they must offer comfort and advice the child in a positive way instead of humiliating the child. Repeated distraction works very well for younger kids and slowly they wean off without even knowing.
Very few times, habits do not go away with time and instead cross a line and become rituals. They start hurting the child physically or emotionally. For instance, excessive nail biting can create infections and damage cuticles, or peers making fun of your child over his habit can hurt his self esteem badly. This is when parents should take the issue seriously and think about seeking professional help.