When I was Mia's age I bit my nails compulsively. They were always little nubbins, and on occasion- little bleeding nubbins. Once I even started biting a nail from the nail bed up (don't ask me how- I didn't even know then.)
My grandma tried guilt trips. She ran a beauty salon in her basement, and would give Lara and I manicures. I still remember her "Tsk tsk!" and telling me that if I didn't bite my nails they wouldn't look so bad. Did that tactic ever work on anyone for anything? Maybe in her generation kids weren't as shameless as I was- but I didn't care one bite. I mean bit. My mom tried yicky tasting nail polish, rewards, and finally ignoring. Then when I was about 12 or so, she started learning how to do acrylic nails, and practiced on me. I didn't bite them, and it kicked my nail-biting habit for good. (I switched to cuticles.)
So now, my little four-year-old is entering her second year of nail biting. Luckily, she only bites them when they get too long, and hasn't started biting as a stress reliever. She leaves them alone once they get short enough, and hasn't bled yet. But I've been worried it would get worse.
About six months ago I painted my nails. She wanted so desperately to have her nails painted, too. I examined each finger carefully. "Hmm. Nope. Nope...nope," and told her there weren't any nails to paint. I said the second she had some white on top of her nails we could paint them. She didn't know when that would happen. I explained it would as soon as she stopped biting them off. She cheerily said "Oh! I'll just stop biting them then!" Every time I went to clip the twins nails, she would look at her own, mystified. "I bit my nails. Maybe next time I won't." I tried to sound as encouraging as possible, "Yeah! Maybe next week for church or something!"
I could tell she was getting more and more disappointed about never having nail polish, especially when she would wistfully compliment her little preschool friends' beautiful pink fingernails.
A few days ago, I noticed a teeeeeeeeny sliver of white on her ring finger. "Mia! Look! You didn't bite this nail! We can paint it!"
"Really?!! I get nail polish?!!!"
She was so pleased with her one painted nail that I felt awful and painted the one next to it.
Today, I noticed that she hadn't bit either one since!
So, during the twins' nap today (they get naps when they're sick- yaaaay!) we tried an experiment.
They're not acrylic, but I'm hoping the appearance will have the same affect. We'll know in a week or so!