As kids, you probably got your hand spanked away from your mouth while sucking your thumb. You were told mythical stories of how biting your nails would ruin your future. And today, you want to pass those onto your children. The reasoning behind this attitude still holds good, however, it isn’t as intense as you would like to believe. And here’s why.
Thumb sucking and nail biting do have it’s downsides. Sucking thumbs could lead to serious dental problems in future. It disorganized the teeth alignment in kids. It may lead to secondary teeth appearing. Your child might then have to wear braces in future. Not only are braces expensive, but also painful.
Nail biting, as with thumb sucking, has the obvious problem of infection. As kids tend to fidget and play with everything around them, to put those same hands in their mouths definitely poses a hygiene problem. You can enforce a hand washing rule at home but it’s a little hard for kids to wash their hands outdoors. Entry of minute germs like pinworms becomes very easy through nail biting. In certain cases, nail biting can cause bleeding as well as deformity of the finger.
These habits usually die out by themselves as your child grows older. It poses a problem only if it persists after the age of 4. Perhaps then you could find home remedies to discourage your child. Tying a band aid around their finger might prevent them from these habits. But do not feel the need to punish your child severely when you see them sucking their thumbs or biting their nails.
A couple of studies held in the United States prove that children who had these habits developed lesser allergies later on. This stands by the hygiene hypothesis, the same concept on which vaccinations operate. It is believed that the entry of the germs in the body help the body produce antibodies to fight these germs. It may cause sickness initially but after a point the body becomes immune to these type of infections. Which is why in the long run, your child may be less susceptible to allergies and infections as opposed to children who never had these habits in the first place.
There isn’t enough evidence to promote the sucking of thumbs and nail biting in children but these studies definitely conclude that the consequences of these habits aren’t as severe as was once believed to be. Children are known to suck their thumbs to relieve anxiety. You can probably praise them for not doing it for a long time and find other ways to help them soothe themselves.