Unhelpful Habits

Here you’ll find answers to some common questions concerning unhelpful habits 

Select the underlined questions below to see more.


They include common behaviours such as biting your nails, as well as less common difficulties such as hair pulling and motor and vocal tics

When these habits occur regularly over a period of time they can be described as an unhelpful habit or a repetition problem.

It is very common for young children to like to have things done in a particular way.  When children feel anxious they can create order for themselves by completing an activity in a certain way or have a parent say a particular phrase to them e.g. a common bedtime ritual might include saying goodnight a number of times when they go to bed.

Many routines children develop can be seen as a result of feeling worried or trying to manage stress.  The routines can escalate into habits over a period of time.


Some unhelpful habits will decrease without intervention, or they may change from one unhelpful habit to another.  For instance, you may spend a lot of time completing repetitive actions.  One of the first things we try and work out is what triggers the unhelpful habits.  You can learn what makes habits happen more often, and what can reduce them.  Identifying unhelpful thinking patterns and developing more helpful responses can be of benefit.

These are other young peoples thoughts

“keeping busy can help as it takes your mind off doing it”

“being tired or worried can make tics worse”

If you need help with unhelpful habits, here are some ideas that may help you cope:

Who can I talk to?

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Someone you trust at school
  • Youth worker
  • Health professional (GP; Counsellor Nurse)
  • Charities and Helplines

Select the underlined topics below to view what resources are available.

If you haven’t already found the help you’re looking for, you can find additional information and services which are more interactive here.

I would like to make a referral to Mental Health Services by completing the online referral form.

Select the underlined topics below to view what resources are available.