Teaching your kids to brush their teeth can be a tricky task. Does your child see this as a chore, something that needs to be done and actively neglects to brush her teeth? Maybe he doesn’t want a bristly toothbrush in their mouth and fights you every time you drag him into the bathroom. Hands on don’t work, and hands off brings the same results. What do you do? Keep reading to find out our tips and tricks on how to teach your kids to brush their teeth.
Who doesn’t love a good story? Lots of people go to the theater for one or pick up a great novel to read. While movies, tv shows and books are all platforms for stories; you just need to pick out one that’s age and topic appropriate. Make up a story or short skit for your child with their stuffed animals to educate them to brush their teeth. How to brush your teeth properly or how bugs could be eating away your teeth are good story lines to educate your child about the benefits of brushing their teeth.
2. Electric Toothbrush
If a regular, plain Jane toothbrush doesn’t cut it, try an electric vibrating toothbrush. Since children are very tech savvy these days, they often find these kinds of toothbrushes more exciting and fun to use. The funny sensation of a moving toothbrush against their lips and teeth might just give them the extra spark to help them develop their oral hygienic habit. Electronic toothbrushes provide a more interactive method for getting your kids to brush their teeth.
Let your child pick out their toothbrush. Maybe they’d like a different color or one with a squishy handle. You should change your toothbrush once a quarter. Or perhaps you could let them out to pick out a new toothpaste flavor. We all need variety in our life; you can alternate flavors throughout the week and spice things up. Allowing them to pick out these items gives a sense of ownership, and hopefully a new sense of responsibility. These are their tools they picked out; they need to use them. Not only do you teach your child responsibility, you’re preparing them to maintain their oral health.
4. Make It A Game
Two minutes, everyone should be brushing their teeth for a minimum of two minutes. Set a timer for them in the bathroom, see if they can last that long. Or see how long they can brush their teeth, if they can brush longer than two minutes. Maybe you could even set up a competition between them and their friends. You could set up a chart somewhere in the bathroom, easily visible, and they would write in their minutes for the day. These activities also teach them responsibility, habit forming, goal setting and ultimately reinforce your actions in teaching them to brush their teeth. All in the form of a competitive game! And at the end of the month, whoever brushed their teeth for the most minutes wins a prize. You’d have to work out the details with the other parents, or you could just reward your child for meeting a goal you set for them, or if they win the competition.
5. Be A Role Model
The best way to teach a child to do something is to model the behavior you’d like to see. For better or for worse, children learn by watching. If they see that you have great teeth and are exposed to your hygienic habits, there’s a good chance they’ll pick up those habits. In their eyes, their parents are their heroes, at least while they’re young. When you brush your teeth, make sure your children are around and get the opportunity to watch you. You’re indirectly teaching them to brush their teeth. Exaggerate each step in slow motion so they can catch on.
Sometimes a little bit of fear can be healthy. Find pictures of children with cavities, or maybe a youtube clip of a child getting a cavity filled in. Or better yet, find a child with cavities and record his or her story about how their experience of getting a cavity, having a cavity, then going to the dentist to take care of it. These are real life scenarios that help you educate your child the potential consequences of failing to brush their teeth. Nothing will leave a greater impact than actually interacting with someone their age in a situation they could find themselves in. Because when you’re brought face to face with someone like you, nothing is preventing you from becoming that person. Hopefully, this will help kindle your child’s motivation for brushing their teeth.
In conclusion, start with a good story. Try switching up their tools like an electronic toothbrush, or letting your child pick out their tools for cleaning their teeth. Make it into a game and be a role model. Last but not least, help them see the consequences of their choices, both for brushing their teeth and not brushing their teeth.
Come check out what Dr. Saadia has to say about children brushing their teeth.