When the enemy is -- nail clippers?!

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  August 12, 2009 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

We're all born with different levels of sensitivity to our environment, meaning we each experience the sense of smell, touch, taste differently. Sometimes, our initial exposure can also shape our response. For instance: maybe the child who hates having a washcloth on his face associates the experience with a jarring noise that coincided with the very first washing. Pretty soon, the fear response becomes habitual. No one, including the child, knows how it started.

Hi Barbara,

I haven't seen anything really like this addressed in your column yet, but we need some assistance. Our 16-month-old daughter is a runner, a jumper, a talker, and a water baby through and through. She has no fear of anything - or so we thought.

For months, we've had to struggle to clip her nails. For our safety and hers (we've been scratched and she's scratched herself many times), we weathered the storm of tears and the struggle to pull her hands away to get it done, but it left all of us exhausted.

At first I thought that it was simply because she doesn't like having her hand held - another struggle when we're walking.

But last night, I decided to give it a go in the bath. We've tried it when she's happy and fed, distracted by Sid the Science Kid and in so many other venues where she had previously been silly, happy and we know she's not tired or hungry...

The bath was our last hope. She's always happy and relaxed there. I gave her a set of nail clippers to play with and made my move, but she snatched her hand away and started crying. So, I showed her how mommy clips her nails (I don't, but I sacrificed some for her) and how nice it was. She smiled and played with my newly shortened nail and fingers, but started crying in what I realized was fear as soon as I made another move to do hers. She balled up and whimpered and it was then I realized that it wasn't just an issue of having her hand held. She's actually afraid of the clippers!

I ended up filing her nails down last night - it took a half an hour to do. I don't mind this resolution, but I would like to know how we might help her get over this fear. She's never been hurt by the clippers and we understand now that the battle of having her nails clipped wasn't about power, but fear. I feel so bad that we didn't recognize it for what it's been as I think we've only made it worse now.

Any recommendations on helping us help her to see that clippers aren't a scary thing? I've read up on toddlers and how they view their bodies and "selves" as a whole, so I'm thinking that perhaps she believes we're cutting a part of "her" off and that's what's causing the distress. Your help would be so appreciated.

From: Phe, Malden

Dear Phe,

As with any fear a child develops, the antidote is to provide repeated small exposures in doses the child can tolerate, gradually increasing the exposure in tolerable, incremental steps.

With fear of a dog, for instance, you’d start by offering a photo of the dog; then wave to the dog from a distance; then gradually decrease the space between the child and dog etc.
It’s a process known as “behavioral shaping,” where you break a complex action into its component parts.

But how do you do that with nail clippers? Dr. William Barbaresi, director of the developmental medicine center at Children’s Hospital, has the answer. By the way, this fear, he says, is very common. Who knew?

He recommends a many step-process that requires patience and time – perhaps as much as 6 or 8 weeks:

1. Get her comfortable sharing space with the clippers. Put the clippers on the table. Keep it simple: “Clippers.” If you feel the need to say more, tell her, “I’m putting the clippers on the table. We’re not going to use them, we’re just putting them there.” If just seeing them freaks her out, matter-of-factly put them on a shelf instead. At some point, having them on the shelf will be a non-issue. Then you can move them to the table. “This is not for her to play with them or even touch them,” he says. “This is just about exposure -- getting her comfortable being in their presence.”

2. Get her closer to the clippers: Hold them in your hand. Do not use them. Do not touch the clippers to her hand. Do not touch her.

3. Even closer. Now hold the clippers in one hand and your daughter’s hand in the other. There is no contact between hands and no attempt to cut nails. “Your hands may need to be three-feet apart,” Barbaresi says. “The distance is only to the extent the child can tolerate.” The second day of this step, you may close the gap by only inches.

4. Closer still. Your hands, one with clipper, one with child, come closer and closer together each time, until they touch. Still, no cutting.

5. Contact! Touch the clippers to a finger. No cutting.

6. Now: Clip.

Since it may take days, even a week, to achieve a comfort level at each step, keep the nail file handy! There’s no rule to how many exposures a step may take because every child is different.

"You can’t script this all,” he says. “Just inch toward the actual cutting of the nails but never go further than her reaction allows you to.” If she becomes upset at any point, back up half a step and stay with it for a few more days.

The key is not to rush. If step 1 takes nine days, who’s counting? Whatever you do, don’t move to the next step until you’ve had repeated success at the existing one. Always be calm and matter-of-fact..

The best reinforcement is your pride at her success: “Good job! I held the clippers in one hand and you sat on my lap.” Barbaresi cautions: “Don’t over-talk what you’re doing.” On step 1, it’s great if you can get away with simply saying, “Clippers,” as you put them on the table.

One last thought: Don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out why she developed this fear or that you somehow made it worse. “There’s no reason or need to reconstruct what happened,” Barbaresi says.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

26 comments so far...
  1. why not clip them while she's sleeping, that's what i do, not because he's afraid of them but because he moves too much and I don't want to cut him.

    Posted by kcheerio August 12, 09 08:31 AM
  1. At this point she's scared to death of the process including big people forcing something on her. You need to start associating something good with the process. It's no longer just about the nail clippers.

    Posted by kenny August 12, 09 09:04 AM
  1. I have a tough time clipping my son's nails too. He's 17 months old. I think his problem is he just doesn't want to sit still enough for me to complete the job. It would be impossible for me to clip them while he's sleeping because he sleeps in his crib and it's too low for me to reach him. The best and easiest way for me to tackle this job is to bite them...Go figure. We start off as a game of me eating his fingers. For whatever reason he will tolerate this and thinks it's funny. I'm usually only able to to a couple fingers at each attempt but it's what works for now.

    Posted by m'smom August 12, 09 09:17 AM
  1. Why would you tortore her like that? It's not as if she won't grow out of the fear. She's 16 months! Ridiculous. Do it while she's sleeping. If she's 10 and still afraid, then you have a problem.

    Posted by KKCV August 12, 09 09:37 AM
  1. Took us a long time with this as well, and was torture when both of them screamed, but now this works very well for them: dinner, then tub, then into pjs, then the promise of watching their favorite show. TV as bribery is probably not the best parenting skill, but for nails it works. We all sit on the couch and they completely tune me out. It was easy as infants, and now over 2 is much better... but I think 16 months was right in line with our bad period as well.

    Posted by beenthere August 12, 09 09:47 AM
  1. Clip or snip while sleeping! Baby nail scissors are easy to use, and a slip up is less worrisome. When she's asleep she'll never feel the snips. I did it successfully with all four of mine.

    Posted by Mary C. August 12, 09 10:19 AM
  1. Definitely while sleeping. Or, I made up a song..."this is how we cut our nails, cut our nails, cut our nails...this is how we cut our nails, when we're such a BIG GIRL..." Somehow that is a good distraction.

    Posted by mom of 3 August 12, 09 11:19 AM
  1. my two kids, aged 2 and 4, struggle and fight every time we even talk about cutting their nails. i think i'll try while they're sleeping.

    Posted by sab August 12, 09 11:44 AM
  1. Thank you, all for your suggestions. As I noted in my letter, I have found a work around in filing her nails (for now). Clipping them at night isn't an option - she's still in a crib that's lowered to a point where I wouldn't be able to do it easily and although she sleeps through the night, she's sensitive to movement in her room. I think that doing so would wake her.

    I was more interested in a technique to get her over her fear of having her nails clipped. She's not afraid of the clipper, so I'm going to try what Barbara suggested at a later step/stage and start with contact but no clipping and go from there. : )

    And KKCV: I think that perhaps you didn't fully read my letter. I'm not sure why you would think we were "torturing" her by trying to figure out how to make a necessary grooming practice as pleasant for her as possible.

    Posted by phe August 12, 09 11:50 AM
  1. This is pretty funny. I'm not a mom, but I have a dog, and this problem routinely shows up on dog lists. It's solved very similarly to what Barbara suggests. Along with desensitization, classical counterconditioning is your friend. It doesn't just work on dogs. On humans too. The key is to have the "reinforcer" (reward) follow the stimulus (sight of the clippers and eventually the clip) so that the sight of the clippers actually predicts the reward. The idea is to condition a new emotional response to them.

    Sorry if this sounds offensive to any human moms out there. I don't mean to be. This is just the application of learning theory, which applies to all us critters.

    Posted by Susan August 12, 09 12:40 PM
  1. phe,

    No one with any sense who read your letter would think you were trying to torture your kid. It sounds like you've tried hard to do the opposite, and I hope some of these suggestions will work for you. I clipped my son's nails while he slept, but that doesn't work at all for my daughter for the exact reasons you describe. Sometimes I think kids that age develop weird fears about things that they have to grow out of. For two months we had to cover the faucet handle in our bathtub with a towel because my daughter became inexplicably frightened of it (at around 18 months old) and would freak out at bathtime if she could see it. Go figure.

    Good luck.

    Posted by DT August 12, 09 01:19 PM
  1. I used to do my kids nails when they were sleeping - never a peep or a stir. Then, introduced it later to them by letting them play with it and saw me using it.

    Posted by Patty August 12, 09 01:23 PM
  1. No, I read you're whole note. You're creating more problems than you have to. It's not necessary to trim her nails while she is awake if it scares her. If you were talking about a bath or something that couldn't be done while she was sleeping, I could understand. I had the same problem and now that she's two and I can paint her nails, and have fun with it, she loves it. They grow out of it. Pick your battles...and get a stool if you can't reach her. Don't make this a bigger issue than it has to.

    Posted by KKCV August 12, 09 02:01 PM
  1. DT: Bathroom faucet handles? Forgive me for laughing, but that's priceless.

    Susan: Not offensive at all. And thank you!

    Posted by phe August 12, 09 02:53 PM
  1. I'm one of those people who has many clear memories of being a baby (there are some of us) and I remember that it HURT to have my nails clipped. The clippers flattened my nails, and it felt as if someone were stepping on my fingers. I solved this problem by becoming a nail biter, and I remained a nail biter until I was nearly a teenager. Scissors, patiently and lovingly used, do a better job than clippers anyway, because they follow the curve of the nail.

    Posted by Ferial August 12, 09 03:36 PM
  1. My three year old is still terrified of nail clippers. Clipped nails are over-rated. Do it only when absolutely necessary (like mother in law is visiting) or the kid is leaving scars on playmates. Otherwise what's the big deal? Save the fights for important stuff like crossing the street or running away in a parking lot.

    Posted by tracy August 12, 09 04:29 PM
  1. This is why videos can be a parent's godsend. I remember having the same problem. Luckily, our youngest son would practically go into a trance watching teletubbies if held in my lap with his blanket. I'd let him get into watching the video, and then gently and quietly pick up the clippers and his hand. He'd look down for a moment, but then the video would catch his attention, and I'd clip. Before long he associated clipping his nails with being relaxed.

    Posted by Beth August 12, 09 05:11 PM
  1. Ask her what her favorite icecream is. Then buy some. Next put it in a bowl and tell her for eaxh nail she allows you to cut not only will she get a huge bite, but she'll even get a squirt of whipped cream! Let her know this happens for newbys to nail clipping only.......big deal!

    Posted by jhall13 August 12, 09 07:01 PM
  1. I did the bedtime thing when my girl was a baby... As she grew I started singing "where is thumpkin" showing her my fingers and holding hers to clip. I let her pretend to clip my nails as well... And she does a stunning job!!!!

    Patience and creativity are the key... There were times when I would get half a hand one night... Just do the other half the next night...

    Good Luck!!

    Posted by Maineicecube August 12, 09 07:35 PM
  1. My two year old finally got over her refusal/fear of nail clippers about 2 months ago . . . because of bribery, I confess, in the form of a small lolipop when the job is done. We only needed to keep up the lolipops for the first month (for a once weekly clipping). This also worked in the past for our son, now 4. We also made a game of it, saying "OK, let's count, 1, 2, 3 SNIP!" then clipping. We also do this during a children's TV show she enjoys. Basically, made the whole thing something a little special and fun. After the first two weeks, she actually would go to the drawer and try to get the clippers for us. Maybe you could try, at first, one M&M per nail,, making it as a little game?

    May

    Posted by Reading mom August 12, 09 09:01 PM
  1. My two year old finally got over her refusal/fear of nail clippers about 2 months ago . . . because of bribery, I confess, in the form of a small lolipop when the job is done. We only needed to keep up the lolipops for the first month (for a once weekly clipping). This also worked in the past for our son, now 4. We also made a game of it, saying "OK, let's count, 1, 2, 3 SNIP!" then clipping. We also do this during a children's TV show she enjoys. Basically, made the whole thing something a little special and fun. After the first two weeks, she actually would go to the drawer and try to get the clippers for us. Maybe you could try, at first, one M&M per nail,, making it as a little game?

    May

    Posted by Reading mom August 12, 09 09:40 PM
  1. A much easier solution is to clip them while she is asleep for the night. She may pull away slightly in her sleep, but that's a normal reaction. You should be able to get the job done without her waking up. That eliminates all of the drama and frustration and her being scared. When she is a little older it won't be an issue at all because she'll understand why it needs to be done.

    This is what I did with my children and it worked great. Good luck!

    Posted by Jen August 12, 09 10:28 PM
  1. Why use clippers? They are instruments of torture on a little one. We used those little gold-ended snub-nosed nose-hair scissors. They worked perfectly, are sharp, and much easier to control. Forget the clippers unless you are cutting your toenails.
    Rebecca

    Posted by Rebecca Miller August 12, 09 11:05 PM
  1. We just left it up to the nail fairy. If our son noticed that they had been clipped, we said the nail fairy must have come. One time he woke up to find me clipping them when he was probably 4 or so and he said, "No Mom, let the nail fairy do it". Happiness all around. He loved the nail fairy.

    Posted by mom, fan of the nail fairy August 13, 09 07:22 AM
  1. One possibility is that your child has high sensory perception. Some kids experience sensory input differently or much more intensely than others. You may have heard the term "sensory integration." It's possible that even the sound of the nail clipper, snapping off the nail, drives her nuts. You also mention, in your reply post, that she is sensitive to movement in her room. This could be connected. There are specific desensitizing exercises that can be done like playing certain music or rubbing her hands but I'd consult with your pediatrician who can get more info from you about other signs. You can also go through your local Early Intervention program for a free evaluation. Not all pedi's are aware of or knowledgeable about these issues.

    Posted by wg August 13, 09 01:15 PM
  1. I know you've received many responses here, so you may have solved this issue by now, but just in case... It could be a sensitivity. We all have sensory sensitivities to some degree - think fingernails on a chalkboard (auditory sensitivity), itchy wool sweater (tactile sensitivity), those who hate roller coasters (spinning/sudden "drop" sensitivity). Some children who have a heightened fear of clippers do so because they can't stand the feeling or sound; they have a higher sensitivity, also known as Sensory Processing. It could be that your child simply processes the "flattened nail feeling" more acutely, the sound more urgently, etc. If it sounds like I have some experience with this, I do, and have been through it. The bath was a great call - it calms her and softens the nails so cutting/clipping is easier on both of you. You might try the scissor method and see if that helps since they don't squeeze the nail or make much of a sound. You can also try allowing her to "trim" one nail of yours a couple of times before trying hers again to allow her some control over the process. You mentioned that she has difficulty when you try holding her hand when she walks. Try looking up "Sensory Aversion" and see if any of it rings true for your child. Not trying to diagnose; just think it could help provide information if she is having difficulty do to Sensory Processing. If so, there are many things you can do to help her! If not, perhaps it's a one-issue sensitivity you can help her through. Hang in there and you're a terrific mom for caring so much to seek some answers.

    Posted by Miranda J. March 25, 12 03:21 PM
 
26 comments so far...
  1. why not clip them while she's sleeping, that's what i do, not because he's afraid of them but because he moves too much and I don't want to cut him.

    Posted by kcheerio August 12, 09 08:31 AM
  1. At this point she's scared to death of the process including big people forcing something on her. You need to start associating something good with the process. It's no longer just about the nail clippers.

    Posted by kenny August 12, 09 09:04 AM
  1. I have a tough time clipping my son's nails too. He's 17 months old. I think his problem is he just doesn't want to sit still enough for me to complete the job. It would be impossible for me to clip them while he's sleeping because he sleeps in his crib and it's too low for me to reach him. The best and easiest way for me to tackle this job is to bite them...Go figure. We start off as a game of me eating his fingers. For whatever reason he will tolerate this and thinks it's funny. I'm usually only able to to a couple fingers at each attempt but it's what works for now.

    Posted by m'smom August 12, 09 09:17 AM
  1. Why would you tortore her like that? It's not as if she won't grow out of the fear. She's 16 months! Ridiculous. Do it while she's sleeping. If she's 10 and still afraid, then you have a problem.

    Posted by KKCV August 12, 09 09:37 AM
  1. Took us a long time with this as well, and was torture when both of them screamed, but now this works very well for them: dinner, then tub, then into pjs, then the promise of watching their favorite show. TV as bribery is probably not the best parenting skill, but for nails it works. We all sit on the couch and they completely tune me out. It was easy as infants, and now over 2 is much better... but I think 16 months was right in line with our bad period as well.

    Posted by beenthere August 12, 09 09:47 AM
  1. Clip or snip while sleeping! Baby nail scissors are easy to use, and a slip up is less worrisome. When she's asleep she'll never feel the snips. I did it successfully with all four of mine.

    Posted by Mary C. August 12, 09 10:19 AM
  1. Definitely while sleeping. Or, I made up a song..."this is how we cut our nails, cut our nails, cut our nails...this is how we cut our nails, when we're such a BIG GIRL..." Somehow that is a good distraction.

    Posted by mom of 3 August 12, 09 11:19 AM
  1. my two kids, aged 2 and 4, struggle and fight every time we even talk about cutting their nails. i think i'll try while they're sleeping.

    Posted by sab August 12, 09 11:44 AM
  1. Thank you, all for your suggestions. As I noted in my letter, I have found a work around in filing her nails (for now). Clipping them at night isn't an option - she's still in a crib that's lowered to a point where I wouldn't be able to do it easily and although she sleeps through the night, she's sensitive to movement in her room. I think that doing so would wake her.

    I was more interested in a technique to get her over her fear of having her nails clipped. She's not afraid of the clipper, so I'm going to try what Barbara suggested at a later step/stage and start with contact but no clipping and go from there. : )

    And KKCV: I think that perhaps you didn't fully read my letter. I'm not sure why you would think we were "torturing" her by trying to figure out how to make a necessary grooming practice as pleasant for her as possible.

    Posted by phe August 12, 09 11:50 AM
  1. This is pretty funny. I'm not a mom, but I have a dog, and this problem routinely shows up on dog lists. It's solved very similarly to what Barbara suggests. Along with desensitization, classical counterconditioning is your friend. It doesn't just work on dogs. On humans too. The key is to have the "reinforcer" (reward) follow the stimulus (sight of the clippers and eventually the clip) so that the sight of the clippers actually predicts the reward. The idea is to condition a new emotional response to them.

    Sorry if this sounds offensive to any human moms out there. I don't mean to be. This is just the application of learning theory, which applies to all us critters.

    Posted by Susan August 12, 09 12:40 PM
  1. phe,

    No one with any sense who read your letter would think you were trying to torture your kid. It sounds like you've tried hard to do the opposite, and I hope some of these suggestions will work for you. I clipped my son's nails while he slept, but that doesn't work at all for my daughter for the exact reasons you describe. Sometimes I think kids that age develop weird fears about things that they have to grow out of. For two months we had to cover the faucet handle in our bathtub with a towel because my daughter became inexplicably frightened of it (at around 18 months old) and would freak out at bathtime if she could see it. Go figure.

    Good luck.

    Posted by DT August 12, 09 01:19 PM
  1. I used to do my kids nails when they were sleeping - never a peep or a stir. Then, introduced it later to them by letting them play with it and saw me using it.

    Posted by Patty August 12, 09 01:23 PM
  1. No, I read you're whole note. You're creating more problems than you have to. It's not necessary to trim her nails while she is awake if it scares her. If you were talking about a bath or something that couldn't be done while she was sleeping, I could understand. I had the same problem and now that she's two and I can paint her nails, and have fun with it, she loves it. They grow out of it. Pick your battles...and get a stool if you can't reach her. Don't make this a bigger issue than it has to.

    Posted by KKCV August 12, 09 02:01 PM
  1. DT: Bathroom faucet handles? Forgive me for laughing, but that's priceless.

    Susan: Not offensive at all. And thank you!

    Posted by phe August 12, 09 02:53 PM
  1. I'm one of those people who has many clear memories of being a baby (there are some of us) and I remember that it HURT to have my nails clipped. The clippers flattened my nails, and it felt as if someone were stepping on my fingers. I solved this problem by becoming a nail biter, and I remained a nail biter until I was nearly a teenager. Scissors, patiently and lovingly used, do a better job than clippers anyway, because they follow the curve of the nail.

    Posted by Ferial August 12, 09 03:36 PM
  1. My three year old is still terrified of nail clippers. Clipped nails are over-rated. Do it only when absolutely necessary (like mother in law is visiting) or the kid is leaving scars on playmates. Otherwise what's the big deal? Save the fights for important stuff like crossing the street or running away in a parking lot.

    Posted by tracy August 12, 09 04:29 PM
  1. This is why videos can be a parent's godsend. I remember having the same problem. Luckily, our youngest son would practically go into a trance watching teletubbies if held in my lap with his blanket. I'd let him get into watching the video, and then gently and quietly pick up the clippers and his hand. He'd look down for a moment, but then the video would catch his attention, and I'd clip. Before long he associated clipping his nails with being relaxed.

    Posted by Beth August 12, 09 05:11 PM
  1. Ask her what her favorite icecream is. Then buy some. Next put it in a bowl and tell her for eaxh nail she allows you to cut not only will she get a huge bite, but she'll even get a squirt of whipped cream! Let her know this happens for newbys to nail clipping only.......big deal!

    Posted by jhall13 August 12, 09 07:01 PM
  1. I did the bedtime thing when my girl was a baby... As she grew I started singing "where is thumpkin" showing her my fingers and holding hers to clip. I let her pretend to clip my nails as well... And she does a stunning job!!!!

    Patience and creativity are the key... There were times when I would get half a hand one night... Just do the other half the next night...

    Good Luck!!

    Posted by Maineicecube August 12, 09 07:35 PM
  1. My two year old finally got over her refusal/fear of nail clippers about 2 months ago . . . because of bribery, I confess, in the form of a small lolipop when the job is done. We only needed to keep up the lolipops for the first month (for a once weekly clipping). This also worked in the past for our son, now 4. We also made a game of it, saying "OK, let's count, 1, 2, 3 SNIP!" then clipping. We also do this during a children's TV show she enjoys. Basically, made the whole thing something a little special and fun. After the first two weeks, she actually would go to the drawer and try to get the clippers for us. Maybe you could try, at first, one M&M per nail,, making it as a little game?

    May

    Posted by Reading mom August 12, 09 09:01 PM
  1. My two year old finally got over her refusal/fear of nail clippers about 2 months ago . . . because of bribery, I confess, in the form of a small lolipop when the job is done. We only needed to keep up the lolipops for the first month (for a once weekly clipping). This also worked in the past for our son, now 4. We also made a game of it, saying "OK, let's count, 1, 2, 3 SNIP!" then clipping. We also do this during a children's TV show she enjoys. Basically, made the whole thing something a little special and fun. After the first two weeks, she actually would go to the drawer and try to get the clippers for us. Maybe you could try, at first, one M&M per nail,, making it as a little game?

    May

    Posted by Reading mom August 12, 09 09:40 PM
  1. A much easier solution is to clip them while she is asleep for the night. She may pull away slightly in her sleep, but that's a normal reaction. You should be able to get the job done without her waking up. That eliminates all of the drama and frustration and her being scared. When she is a little older it won't be an issue at all because she'll understand why it needs to be done.

    This is what I did with my children and it worked great. Good luck!

    Posted by Jen August 12, 09 10:28 PM
  1. Why use clippers? They are instruments of torture on a little one. We used those little gold-ended snub-nosed nose-hair scissors. They worked perfectly, are sharp, and much easier to control. Forget the clippers unless you are cutting your toenails.
    Rebecca

    Posted by Rebecca Miller August 12, 09 11:05 PM
  1. We just left it up to the nail fairy. If our son noticed that they had been clipped, we said the nail fairy must have come. One time he woke up to find me clipping them when he was probably 4 or so and he said, "No Mom, let the nail fairy do it". Happiness all around. He loved the nail fairy.

    Posted by mom, fan of the nail fairy August 13, 09 07:22 AM
  1. One possibility is that your child has high sensory perception. Some kids experience sensory input differently or much more intensely than others. You may have heard the term "sensory integration." It's possible that even the sound of the nail clipper, snapping off the nail, drives her nuts. You also mention, in your reply post, that she is sensitive to movement in her room. This could be connected. There are specific desensitizing exercises that can be done like playing certain music or rubbing her hands but I'd consult with your pediatrician who can get more info from you about other signs. You can also go through your local Early Intervention program for a free evaluation. Not all pedi's are aware of or knowledgeable about these issues.

    Posted by wg August 13, 09 01:15 PM
  1. I know you've received many responses here, so you may have solved this issue by now, but just in case... It could be a sensitivity. We all have sensory sensitivities to some degree - think fingernails on a chalkboard (auditory sensitivity), itchy wool sweater (tactile sensitivity), those who hate roller coasters (spinning/sudden "drop" sensitivity). Some children who have a heightened fear of clippers do so because they can't stand the feeling or sound; they have a higher sensitivity, also known as Sensory Processing. It could be that your child simply processes the "flattened nail feeling" more acutely, the sound more urgently, etc. If it sounds like I have some experience with this, I do, and have been through it. The bath was a great call - it calms her and softens the nails so cutting/clipping is easier on both of you. You might try the scissor method and see if that helps since they don't squeeze the nail or make much of a sound. You can also try allowing her to "trim" one nail of yours a couple of times before trying hers again to allow her some control over the process. You mentioned that she has difficulty when you try holding her hand when she walks. Try looking up "Sensory Aversion" and see if any of it rings true for your child. Not trying to diagnose; just think it could help provide information if she is having difficulty do to Sensory Processing. If so, there are many things you can do to help her! If not, perhaps it's a one-issue sensitivity you can help her through. Hang in there and you're a terrific mom for caring so much to seek some answers.

    Posted by Miranda J. March 25, 12 03:21 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives