We’ve all been there. Your kid takes one look at their toothbrush, and they either make a bolt for the door, showcase their finest tantrum or simply stare at it looking horrified. The fact is, a lot of children don’t like brushing their teeth, and you can tell them until you are blue in the face how important it is, but to them, it just doesn’t matter.
Understandably, you are probably feeling frustrated by the whole experience. However, it’s worth remembering that you have been brushing your teeth twice a day for years. For your child, this is still a relatively new experience.
So, how do you convince your unwilling kid to brush their teeth? Well, let’s find out together:
The first stumbling block
Before you can consider ways to tackle your kid’s distaste for all things brushing, you may want to have a think about the reasons why. During your child’s formative years, their whole body and mind go through a series of developmental stages, and their mouths are no different. From teething to their first tooth making an appearance, first dentist visits and beyond, there’s a lot to get used to in a very short space of time.
Sore gums and painful teeth go hand in hand with your growing child’s experience. So bear this in mind when introducing a brush. Make sure you invest in a soft-bristled round-headed toothbrush so they can get used to the feel of the bristles and the weight of it early on. The more comfortable and positive your little one can feel, the better chance they have at accepting brushing as part of their daily routine.
Then, there’s the classic boundary testing. Your child might decide that toothbrushing isn’t their jam overnight, simply to assert their independence. The hallmark signs of rebellion may look like a tantrum, clamping their mouth shut or emotionally reacting when you mention that it is time to brush their teeth.
Although it may be tempting to give in for an easier life, forming lifelong habits now will ensure your child gets the best start. In the meantime, here are a few simple strategies to help you convince your kid that brushing is important!
The importance of choice
One of the best ways to motivate your child is to let them pick their toothbrush and toothpaste. Fortunately, the toothbrush industry knows how to leave a lasting impression. Everything from magical unicorns to swashbuckling pirates, Paw Patrol to My Little Pony have all found their way onto a colourful range of electric toothbrushes and traditional brushes alike.
With the added bonus of two minute flashing light timers and sensors to remind your children to change to direction, there’s a lot to get excited about!
Now that you have the brush sorted, you need to take a look at the wide selection of toothpaste available. You will find everything from classic spearmint to strawberry and apple flavours – all designed to appeal to every kid’s taste palette. Good oral care has never been more straightforward.
Two minutes x twice a day
Plaque and bad bacteria buildup are the most significant contributors to tooth decay, and you’ve guessed it, stinky breath. That’s why dentists the globe over are obsessed with the magical “two minutes, twice a day” mantra. It is the optimum amount of time to remove the most harmful bacteria and ensure healthy gums and strong teeth. So how do you get your kid on board?
Well, sing their favourite song or nursery rhyme. Not only does this turn tooth brushing into a positive event, a well times classic tune can take a good two minutes to sing. Whether you embrace the classic “Twinkle, Twinkle” or adapt lyrics of your choosing, for example, “Brush, brush, brush your teeth, brush them nice and clean!” – you have a whole range of fun songs to encourage your child to get brushing!
Imitation is a form of flattery
Did you know that young children learn all of their basic social and communication skills from watching you? Every encounter they witness, every movement you make, and each smile or grievance they see are all part of their learning foundation.
Imitation is one of your greatest tools as a parent, so use it to your advantage. Let your child see how you brush your teeth, the movements you make and the amount of toothpaste you use. If you are feeling extra confident, let them brush your teeth. Let them feel your teeth or watch you in the mirror. That way, they can take in the whole scene. They can see that you are not bothered by it, so why should they be?
Make it fun
Positive experiences breed rewarding memories. When tooth brushing seems non-existent and when you feel like you are done with the battle, turn the situation around. Instead of giving up, make brushing fun!
- Tell a story using their toothbrush as the hero
- Turn it into a game
- Brush during bath time
By using your imagination and creativity to get your kid excited about brushing their teeth, they will be more willing to get in on the action every day! That’s a win in our books.
Good brushing = rewards
If your child has already started pre-school or school proper, then you are well acquainted with the power of stickers. They are a symbol of achievement, reward and victory, and your child knows it all too well.
Try creating your own reward system that includes anything from:
- Brushing for two minutes, twice a day
- Helping with tasks
- Good listening
- Proud moment of the day
Anything that is worth celebrating, or in this case, encouraging, can be written on the chart and praised with a sticker of your child’s choosing. Rewards usually mean prizes, so set out with clear expectations, such as “if you get 25 stickers this week, you get a prize!” Just the prospect of a reward will likely make your kid want to take up the challenge!
With a good oral hygiene toolkit at your disposal, from toothbrush choices to reward charts, convincing your kid to brush their teeth has never been simpler. Are you up for the challenge?