How To Cut Your Kids’ Nails
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How To Cut Your Kids’ Nails

When I was a little guy, a ritual that my father and I shared together was cutting our nails. He’d sit me in the sink like it was a little bathtub, and we’d start off by washing our hands; after drying them, he would study my nails and often ask me, “What do you think is wrong here?” This either meant I had maimed my cuticle skin or there was dirt underneath my nails.


With this joint activity, my dad was doing more than just giving me a manicure—he was instilling the idea in me early of how important it is to take care of your hands. He explained that short, clean nails that were well taken care of made the best impression; how not washing your hands and cleaning the dirt from your nails could get your sick if you touch your face. He even showed me how to clean the nail tools and throw clippings in the trash so I’d know how to once I was old enough to do my own nails.


We met at the bathroom sink once a week and the habitual endeavor has stuck with me. As an adult, I may not have to worry about sticking my hands in my mouth after recess, but I do take the time to cut my nails on a weekly basis, or I go get a manicure. My father’s keys to male hygiene all started with having healthy, well-groomed hands, and his points still resonate with me every time I read for my clippers and file.


I recently sat with my dad, who now is a grandfather and performs the same nail rituals with his grandchildren as he did with me when I was a boy. Here are some of his best tips for cutting your child’s nails; these steps are for you to follow, and then to eventually teach your child.


  • Always keep your child’s nails short—it will help them stay cleaner.
  • Use a nail clipper to trim their nails, not scissors, which are a bit dangerous and not as effective.
  • Trim your child’s nails after he/she has taken a bath; the heat and steam will soften the nails, making them easier to trim.
  • Cut your child’s nails straight across, and then round off on the corners to help keep the nails stout. Do not file back and forth; only use a file on a child’s hands to eliminate rough edges or any points that will cause the nails to grow back sharp.
  • Most importantly, never under any circumstances cut their cuticles. Cuticles are there to protect the nails, and as soon as you get into cutting or messing with them, it will turn into a problem that requires maintenance each and every time.
  • It’s recommended that parents cut their kid’s nails until he/she is at least 9 years of age, but it all comes down to how and what you teach them. I started cutting my own nails with my father’s supervision at the age of 7, and before I knew it, I was cutting them completely on my own just fine.


Start teaching your kids this essential grooming skill early on, and they will thank you the rest of their lives. If you make it your special time with them, they won’t think of getting their nails trimmed as a chore; I know I always looked forward to and loved the days my father would cut my nails. Plus, these moments really helped shape me into who I am today.

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