We’ve all been there, haven’t we? The fight to get the kids to brush their teeth, and to do it properly. My little devil’s all of a sudden become a little Einstein capable of coming up with a counter-argument to rival any I might give as to why they should brush. The old tried and tested, “If you don’t brush your teeth properly, they will fall out,” may have worked in the past but now my three year old tells me, “Yippee I get to meet the tooth fairy!” Hmmm, who taught him about the tooth fairy?
So how do we get our kids to brush their teeth? Well, the kids might have the TV to learn about the tooth fairy, but fear not, I have the internet, and I’ve found some great ways to get my kid to brush his teeth properly, and for him to think it was his idea. I decided to share a few of the best ones with you below.
Together we can move mountains
I have a little trick I use with my son, which has been the most effective one yet. Every night and every morning when it’s time to brush, we do it together. I don’t make the time we spend in the bathroom brushing about brushing though, I ask about his day and preschool and friends. Or I ask what his plans are and what he wants to do that day.
I try to keep the discussion flowing as we brush (albeit a bit messy and gargled) and the time becomes about more than brushing. It’s a bonding time for us. The more we share this time, the less impressed he is when the alarm goes off and our time is up.
He enjoys this time with me, and he sees it as a treat, and I have to admit, I do too. It’s an excellent way to wind down and share our stories, and it’s easy to fit in brushing instructions when you are disguising the brushing lesson as a conversation.
If they’re adamant, they won’t brush you could always begin by just bringing them to the bathroom at “brush time” to talk with mummy or daddy. Lead by example, and they’re more likely to join in, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The baby in the mirror brushes their teeth
This works on both toddlers and babies starting. Again it’s about leading by example, in younger babies holding the mirror up to see themselves brush is fun.
It satisfies their curiosity, and by the time they are toddlers, the hilarity ensues when they learn to pull faces in the mirror.
You may not get much brushing done from the funny faces, but that is the goal. Make brushing fun, pull silly faces and let them explore the world with their mouth. Starting this young is a great way to form a good habit,
A poor workman blames his tools
Ok so it’s maybe a bit unfair to tell our kids they are poor workmen, but the right equipment does help. There are so many products on the market nowadays that make kid tooth cleaning so easy.
The standard toothbrush is now a thing of the past, U shaped toothbrushes that clean the whole plate at once are now a common sight to see in many kids bathrooms. It’s also essential to make sure you find a toothpaste your child likes the taste of. It’s such a shame that something as simple as the wrong toothpaste flavor can have such a massive impact on your child’s oral health. This might end up being a case of trial and error, but your child will learn there are lots of flavors to pick from.
Anything you can do I can do better
Kids learn through play, and what better way to make them clean their teeth than to make it a competition? Brushing their teeth to their favorite song as they dance is an excellent way to get them excited about brushing, and it creates a timer. If you throw in a game of musical statues into the mix, you will have a brush time full of fun. Or challenge them to clean their teeth for as long as you do. However you engage them, there is no doubt that your child is more likely to participate in play.
Reward your child for brushing
I’m always a little bit unsure if I like this one or not. Rewarding kids for teeth brushing feels a bit like bribing them to do the essentials. I have used the reward method in conjunction with play and talk time, and it undoubtedly works.
Positive reinforcement is a great thing and has its place, but ultimately our kids are only small for a little while, and a happy memory of being silly with their parents will make them smile every time they brush their teeth, all the way through to adulthood.
However you choose to engage in your kids and get them involved in brushing, you can be safe in the knowledge you are giving them a healthy habit for life and maybe some fond memories to go with it.