Taking the stress out of cutting children's fingernails

Advice from dozens of parents about making nail-cutting bearable for your child, if they have autism.

Round ended scissors

Nail cutting can be hard with wriggly, angry, squirmy people. I use round ended scissors which you can buy at most chemists.

You do it first

I let Hailey watch me cut someone else's nails, so she could feel comfortable with it.

Nail clippers

Try using nail clippers, they can be easier and quicker than scissors.

Make it fun!

With girls especially you can turn nail cutting into a manicure session; use bright nail varnish, do a hand massage.

Take the focus off

When we're cutting Simon's toe nails we use distraction techniques: a book to read aloud from, a handheld electronic game or something he can hold to look at and fiddle with, anything to distract Simon’s attention from his feet!

Easy cutting

A good time to cut nails is straight after a bath when the nails are nice and soft.

Use a nail board

When my visually impaired students are able to, I teach them to file their nails instead of having them clipped. If they do this regularly, they will never have to have their finger nails clipped again.

A finger a day

When cutting Lucy's nails, we tackle one finger a day when she is relaxed, or occupied on something else.

While he sleeps

I cut Ricky’s nails in the middle of the night wearing a head torch which I bought from a camping shop.

Battery nail file

I use a battery operated nail file with my girls - keeps nails short and smooth, no danger of cutting skin and generally very well tolerated. I actually use it to calm my daughter down when she's distressed!

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Using these tips

These tips have been contributed by members of our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisors. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional.