How to Stop Kids From Biting Their Nails, Sucking Their Thumbs, and More
Curiously, the moment you get a phone call is the very second your child has to share her deep need for a piece of gum.
The substitute: Many parents tell a child to stop interrupting but in the same breath respond to the request. “Then the child learns the method is effective,” says Emily Geizer, a parenting coach and a former preschool teacher in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She recommends asking your child to put her hand on you when she wants attention and then putting your hand on hers so she knows that you’ve “heard.” Says Geizer, “That demonstrates mutual respect and teaches patience.”
No one wants to dine with a child who looks like a front-loading washing machine on spin.
The substitute: “Explain that chewing with your mouth open makes people uncomfortable,” says Arden Clise, the president of Clise Etiquette, in Seattle, who teaches manners to adults and kids. “Tell him that if his friends and classmates can see inside his mouth, they may lose their appetite and not want to eat with him anymore.” Have a fun phrase you can repeatedly deploy. Clise is fond of “The hatch is open!” She also likes this trick from etiquette grande dame Letitia Baldrige: Put a mirror in front of the child at dinner.