Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Real Nail Biter

As you would expect with Christmas barely in the rear view mirror, Lukas still gets pretty excited on those days when we pull up to the house after school to find a package waiting for us on the porch.

It doesn't matter that absolutely nothing we have ordered in the past month, and truthfully there hasn't even been much, has been intended for him because he will still see it as a potential gift.  So on Tuesday, when we came home and he viewed the small package sitting by the door he was eager to see what it was.

But he shouldn't have been.

That's because, rather than it being a toy for him, it was the something he certainly would NOT like.  We unceremoniously removed his binky when Lukas was 6 months old.  Thankfully he never ended up sucking his thumb, but at some point in the past year and a half - or more - our little guy started to chew on his fingernails. 

And now he does it all the time.  Gnawing them down as far as he can, damaging his cuticles, and often leaving sharp bits of broken nails in the process.  Understandably, this has ended up being very painful for him, and by default for Mrs. LIAYF as well.

Realizing the problem early on, Mrs. LIAYF and I have tried many different tactics to get Lukas to stop chewing on his fingers.  Everything from rewards (promising to get him a Buzz Lightyear for his last birthday if he stopped) to constant reminders including pulling his fingers away from his mouth whenever we saw him with his fingers close. 

Unfortunately none of this worked.

Lukas wanted to stop too.  Especially since he often has painful fingers, like after he has gone to bed and "needs a band aid" to cover a stinging digit. (Though this has recently gotten a bit out of hand when he seems to be using that excuse to buy more time before sleep and to get a Star Wars or Phineas and Ferb bandage.)

So finally, when all else seemed to fail, Mrs. LIAYF found a product online (3 different ones actually) that professed to be a cure.  Just coat his fingers with it and he won't want to put them in his mouth anymore.  Sounds simple right?  We told Lukas it was coming and even he was on board.  After all, he did want to stop biting his nails.  So right before that nights dinner we coated his nails with the first product.

In retrospect we probably shouldn't have been serving finger foods with that meal.  That's because with the first apple slice he tossed in his mouth also went his fingers.  Immediately, his face went sideways and his mouth slowly opened leaving the partially chewed up food fully visible. 

"Ewwww!" he moaned as he spit the food out.  Then he cried.

I quickly handed my Lukas a fork as Mrs. LIAYF and I looked at each other, feeling more than a bit guilty.  It was obvious that he was completely unprepared for the terrible taste in his mouth.  In an attempt to make him feel better about it, Mrs. LIAYF then pulled one of his fingers closer and gave it a lick. 

"Vomitous" she said as she shook her head.

"Wash it off!" Lukas implored, but we had to sadly explain that it wouldn't wash off, but would only wear off in a couple of days.  It was at that point that my son held out his other hand to me "taste it daddy" he said.  I wanted to refuse, but as I looked up Mrs. LIAYF was also staring at me with expectant eyes.  So after a brief hesitation, I pulled his finger close and licked his nail. 

Immediately, I felt his pain.  To say it was pretty bad tasting stuff, would be an understatement.  I suppose that is why it's supposed to be so effective.  I again felt guilty for putting him through the experience, but that didn't compare to how we felt the next morning.  That's because apparently, Lukas also chews on his fingers in his sleep. Several times that night we could hear him wake up, wretch a few times, cry a bit, then go back to sleep.  In the morning he begged us not to use "that stuff" anymore.

Raise your hand if you feel like a bad parent (raising my hand gingerly).

The next morning we took Lukas to his Pre-K classroom and warned them of the nasty substance on his fingers.  "Make him eat with silverware" I warned them, but when we picked him up that evening he hadn't had any further problems.

And subsequently none since then either. Who knows.  As low as this experience made Mrs. LIAYF and I feel, it may be the one thing that does the trick for Lukas. 

I guess we'll keep our fingers crossed.  And coated too.


BloggerFather said...

My mom used something like that and it was absolutely horrendous.

For the first few days.

But you know addicts can get used to anything to get their fix. After a week, the coating was simply an after-taste. (Yep, I'm still biting my nails.)

James (SeattleDad) said...

@BloggerFather - Well, that's not encouraging. Hopefully, we will have better results. Thanks for stopping by?

Diplo_Daddy said...

Tough love, that’s how I see it. Yeah, it’s awful to put him through it. But if it works, and there are no long term side effects because of it, why not. Mission accomplished!

Pssst, you gonna tell us the name of your “bite no more” product?

Kevin said...

I would like to know the name of this product.

My daughter chews her nails too. Although not as bad as Lukas from the sound of it.

We've had to make a few 'tough love' decisions. It sucks, but it's always for the greater good.

momnextdoor said...

My parents used something like that with me when I was little because I sucked my thumb. It didn't really work for me but my parents found just the right thing. They told me that if I kept sucking my thumb I would suck all the skin right off my finger and I would only have bone left. Yup, that got me to stop! making Lucas taste some nasty stuff really all that traumatizing? I think it could be worse.


Mrs. M said...

For all that trouble I really hope it helps cure the problem. Keep us posted!

J-Tony said...

Hang in there. I'm sure it does make you feel bad for putting him through this, but it'll be ok, and your not terrible parents for helping him stop. Good luck

Anonymous said...

At least it's not his toenails...

Rachael said...

Man that sucks. But if it works, maybe it was worth it...

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Dipplo Daddy - It was called 'Mavala Stop'. Still seems to be doing the trick.

@Kevin - See above. Good luck with getting her to stop as well.

@momnextdoor - It wasn't as bad as it probably sounded. But we did feel bad for a little while. Of course we feel better now that it's working.

@Teri - Still going well. I think this may do the trick!

@j-tony - Thanks. We knew it was for the best (if it worked). And it seems to have so far.

@anordinarydad - Haha. Good point.

@Rachael - Thanks. Seems to be working after the first week.


Anonymous said...

Great post and a wonderful suggestion for my son and for me! I'd love to find a way to stop biting my nails, however I suspect as with your second commenter that I will just get used to the taste... Oh well. It never hurts to try it, right?