Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Harold Pass, PhD, was quoted extensively in a recent article in Newsday’s
Explore LI section about helping children with nervous habits. The
article by Gigi Berman Aharoni addresses issues associated with
repetitive behaviors such as nail biting, hair twirling and pencil
chewing, which are common among children.
Noting that young children often use nervous habits to decrease anxiety and soothe themselves, Dr. Pass is quoted as recommending that parents provide a structured environment at home and that they respond to habits in ways that do not compound the problem. “Becoming angry and punitive can only increase a child’s anxiety and the frequency of the habit,” Dr. Pass said in the article. He also cautioned parents to seek professional help if a child displays any form of cutting behavior.
One of the best ways for parents to help their children with nervous habits, Dr. Pass said, is to understand the source of the anxiety. “Take the time to talk to your kids, and most important, listen”, he advised.
Dr. Pass is the Director of Psychotherapy Training in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.