Proper tooth brushing is so important for little ones. If they don’t brush for the full two minutes, they can end up with cavities and rotten teeth. Even as adults, sometimes we are so tired we fall into bed at the end of the night, and the nighttime routine goes out of the window. The thing is, as adults, we have these routines in place (for the most part) because of the habits our parents instilled in us as kids.
We may miss the odd night for various reasons, but for the most part, we are all accustomed to bruising our teeth twice a day. If we give our kids these habits now, we will be giving them healthy teeth for life.
So how do we get our little rascals to sit still for two minutes? This might not seem like much to us, but it can feel like a lifetime to our kids. It’s the reason I don’t believe in timeouts. A time passes differently for kids than it does for us, so a simple two minutes can feel excruciating to a small child.
We don’t want them to associate tooth brushing with feeling like a punishment or as something boring and monotonous they have to do for ages, so how do we get them to brush their teeth for two minutes and like it? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Download a toothbrushing app for your phone
There are some great apps out there that help to make brush time more fun, and that hold your kids accountable to the two-minute tooth brushing rule. They have timers and features. Some of them have songs, and others also have brushing reminders and other nice features for kids built into them.
If the kids have something to visualize and concentrate on, they are less likely to notice the time passing, so we like the toothbrushing app.
Try brushing with a song
Head over to Youtube and put on one of your kids’ favorite songs. Most songs last at least two minutes, and it’s a great way to distract them and have them forget about countdowns. They will have loads of fun dancing and brushing their teeth to the rhythm of the music. They can even continue to have a pre-bed dance party once their two minutes are up.
Kids love a reward chart, something about watching those stickers and stars accumulate makes their little hearts happy. Break out a reward chart dedicated to tooth brushing and give them a star each time they complete a two-minute brush. This will encourage them to keep going and make you feel less guilty when it comes time to give them their weekly reward treat, which, let’s face it, will probably have some sugar in it.
Make it a game
Nothing beats brush time boredom quite like turning it into a game. Play a game of copycat with the kids. Have them copy you and brush the same way for the same time. If they break the copy, they have to start again. They can play copycat in the mirror with themselves also it’s terrific fun.
Break the game up into four sections to cover the mouth’s four areas. This makes the time go even faster. Being goofy and silly and having a great laugh with the kids is an extra bedtime bonus.
Invest in a timer
Get a timer for the bathroom, or even better, buy the kids a toothbrush with an in-built timer to get them really going. You can also turn the timer into a game. This works well for kids of all ages but if they feel like they are on a countdown rather than a count up, then brushing their teeth becomes a race to beat the timer before it runs out. This will have them keen to cover all of their mouths before the time runs out.
Do some role play
Do some role play with the kids and clean their teddy’s teeth or one of their dolls. You can set up a sensory wall chart as a mouth with teeth and color the teeth with yellow washable markers. The kids can role-play cleaning the teeth on the cart. These are all great ways to get the kids excited about brushing teeth. For the sensory chart, set the two-minute timer to see if the kids can get all their teeth cleaned before the buzzer goes off.
This is a good demonstration of how long it takes to get teeth cleaned properly, and it will encourage the kids to keep their own teeth a bit longer. It also associates teeth brushing with play and embeds the process in their heads as a positive behavior.
Make it fun
However, you go about getting the kids to brush their teeth for the full two minutes, make sure you make it fun.