Keeping your kids’ teeth healthy is a priority, but getting them to brush can be a real challenge. They might start to whine and cry. They might even run away. And some will clamp their jaws shut no matter how hard you try to get them to open up and say, “Ah.” Fortunately, there are a few tricks of the trade that parents have used with good results to get their children to brush. Here are three easy tactics you can use to win this battle.
1. Make It Part of Your Kids’ Morning and Evening Routines
Many kids don’t enjoy brushing their teeth as a stand-alone activity and will whine and complain whenever their parents tell them that it’s time to brush. One way to sidestep this tendency is to incorporate brushing into the rest of the child’s morning or evening routine.
Rather than having your child begin his routine with brushing, try starting out with something that he enjoys – perhaps taking a bath or combing his hair. Have that activity tie right into brushing, and then follow that up immediately with another activity – hopefully one that he engages in without putting up a fuss, such as eating breakfast or putting on his shoes. As this string of activities becomes habitual, a routine is formed and your child will have less resistance moving from one activity right into the next.
2. Make Brushing Like a Game
Children love playing games, so you might have an easier time when you turn brushing from a chore into a game. You might try brushing your teeth while humming a song and challenge your child to guess the song. Then let him have a turn humming a tune while brushing while you guess. Here’s a hint: make sure you guess wrong a few times to keep his toothbrush moving!
Or you might simply say, “Okay, let’s brush your teeth,” and then proceed to brush near your child’s ears, nose, elbows and other “wrong” body parts. When he corrects you and says, “That’s not my teeth! That’s my nose,” be sure to act shocked and beg him to let you try again.
3. Let Your Kids Pick Out Their Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
Kids love doing more “grownup” things and making their own choices. It makes them feel proud to be able to do these things like a big boy or big girl. And it also gives them a sense of ownership over the activity. So why not use this tendency to get your kids to brush their teeth?
Take your child to the store and let her pick out her own toothbrush and toothpaste. Try to give them a choice from several different types so that they can happily choose their favorite ones.
Explain how kids have smaller teeth than Mommy and Daddy, so they need smaller toothbrushes. Their teeth also need special nutrients in kids’ toothpaste, so you can show them which varieties and flavors are made just for them. As your kids get older, you can also teach them other aspects of oral health. Of course, it’s a good idea for you, as a parent, to brush up on your knowledge so that you know how to properly care for teeth and gums and also know when you may need to see an orthodontist.
On Lasting Smiles of Bethlehem’s website, they explain that it’s in a family dentist’s job description to properly educate you and your children on how to brush properly, what type of brush and floss to use, and the importance of frequent check-ups to discover any minor problems that may be treated easily. Make sure that the dentist you see as an adult is a family dentist. This way, your children can go with you and see what a positive experience taking care of your teeth can be, hopefully making tooth brushing less stressful.
Getting your kids to brush their teeth can be a challenge, but many families have figured it out, and you will too! Try to keep a cool head and a patient hand as you help your little ones develop these good health habits. Pick one of these tips and try it out this week.