7 Dreadful Habits Your Kids Have (And How To Break 'Em)

Say "adios!" to the thumb-sucking and nail-biting.

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By Leah Rocketto

As adorable as kids are, they have some less-than-attractive habits.

They say whatever pops into their head, no matter how inappropriate. They bite their nails until they bleed. They dig through their nose and eat whatever that comes out.

Sometimes these habits are just a disgusting phase, but if we ignore them for too long, they can lead to larger problems like infections, illnesses, and even depression. But before you send your child to nose pickers anonymous, try treating the problem at home with a few simple solutions.


Here are seven ways to help your little one break their bad habit for good.

1. Thumb-sucking

Why it's bad: In addition to calluses, blisters, and infections, thumb-suckers run the risk of having misaligned teeth. So unless you want to spend thousands of dollars on braces, we suggest getting the thumb out of their mouth.

How to stop it: If your child sucks their thumb out of boredom, as many do, come up with creative ways to distract them. Art projects or hand-related games are a great place to start.

2. Hair pulling

Why it's bad: Whether they're latching on to your locks or their own, constant hair pulling can cause baldness — a look that only works on babies and old men.


How to stop it: This tiny habit is often the root of a much bigger problem, like anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. They may benefit from seeing a counselor to work through the underlying issue.

3. Breath Holding

Why it's bad: Kids use this to scare their parents, and sometimes it works. A child can lose consciousness when they hold their breath for too long.

How to stop it: If your child uses this tactic to get their way, try changing how you approach the situation. Rather than saying no, sit them down and explain your decision. They might still be unhappy but understanding may prevent a tantrum.

4. Nose Picking

Why it's bad: Digging for buried boogers can lead to a few health problems, including nose bleeds, colds, and infections.


How to stop it: Constantly telling your child to stop may be enough, but if it's not then try some positive reinforcement. Give them a "star" for each day they don't pick their nose, and let them trade in their stars for special treats.

5. Nail-Biting

Why it's bad: It's not just the fingers that suffer from this bad habit. Gnawing on nails can cause small fractures at the edges of your tot's teeth.

How to stop it: Kicking this habit requires some major nail maintenance. Use a nail strengthener to avoid any breaks, and keep kids' nails trim and smooth so they won't try to bite them into the perfect shape. If the problem is severe, invest in a bitter "polish" like Mavala Stop ($14). Your child will be so disgusted with the taste that they'll avoid putting their fingers in their mouth.


6. Teeth Grinding

Why it's bad: Some side effects of this habit, like an aching jaw and headaches, happen immediately. Others, like worn-down teeth, occur over time.

How to stop it: Teeth grinding is often a result of stress, so try teaching your tot some relaxation techniques. Whether it’s kid-friendly yoga in the afternoon or a mini massage before bedtime, these activities could curb the grind. But if the habit continues, ask the dentist to fit your child for a mouth guard. It won’t stop the grinding, but will minimize wear and tear on their teeth.


7. Swearing

Why it's bad: This has more to do with your child's reputation than their health. After all, no one really wants their child to befriend the kid whose favorite word is f*ck.

How to stop it: Nothing straightens kids out more than losing money. Place a curse jar on the kitchen counter and charge $0.25 every time they say a bad word. It also wouldn't hurt to clean up your vocabulary, since children tend to imitate their parents.

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