When it comes to our adorable little kids, having them try out new things can be quite challenging. Sometimes we get our patience tested, especially if we are teaching them to do something important which they should be doing it for the rest of their lives, like good grooming habits.
Teaching toddlers to brush their teeth is not a cakewalk, far from it. It requires wrestling and grappling skills, espionage and deception techniques that would make the CIA blush.
In all seriousness, toddler taming is not an easy task, especially in the hygiene department, so here are ten tips on how we can get our kids to brush their teeth.
10 Brush In Front Of Them
Mimicry is what we're going for here. Most kids are visual learners, so if they see us brushing our teeth they want to do it too, especially if we sell it to them. But how?
This takes a little acting on our part, make soothing sounds while we brush. Smiling at them while we do it will also let them know it doesn't hurt at all. Afterward, tell them how great it was and how amazing and clean we feel. Let them smell our breath, and they'll be intrigued, with our very own Meryl Streep acting skills, to try it themselves.
9 Get Them Going With Practice
Practicing makes kids better teeth brushers when they do it for real. So while they're still skeptical and afraid about the whole brushing phenomenon, let them practice on some objects.
Toys would be best. You can get their dolls and tell them to brush their doll's teeth. They can also do it to themselves, provided their hands are clean and pretend that their fingers are the toothbrush.
Then if they are comfortable enough, and if it's cool with you, maybe let them brush your teeth, too. There's nothing more "hands-on" than that, right? Practice makes perfect, that's what we always tell our kids, now it includes brushing their teeth.
8 Purchase A Cute Toothbrush
Now that we know our kids are ready for the real thing, we can get them a nice toothbrush. This is a huge moment, our child's first-ever toothbrush. So we might want to include them in picking the toothbrush that they're going to be using for the first time to clean their teeth.
We can even purchase a set with toothpaste and a matching drinking glass, too! Try a big box store where there are likely to be a lot of choices and let your toddler choose their favorite character or color. Put them at home, near the sink, in a place that they can reach easily.
7 Don't Worry About Toothpaste At First
Fluoride is our concern here. The issue with fluoride is that if too much of it is ingested by a child, then it could lead to dental fluorosis. Nothing much to worry about, it's not fatal, but it puts permanent spots and streaks on our children's teeth and we can do away with fluoride altogether.
We can get toothpaste, while our kids are learning the habit, that does not contain fluoride. We can even have them practice brushing without any toothpaste at all, just have them rinse their mouth first. The most important thing is that they learn how to brush their teeth.
6 The Game Of Brushing
Making our kids brush their own teeth doesn't have to be a quick, mixed-martial arts-type bout in front of the sink and the whole bathroom. We can make it fun for the little rascals, and easier for us.
Play some games while they brush their teeth. Have them hum their favorite song while they do it. Adults do it all the time, kids can too. You could also make funny sounds while you brush with them. Use the bubbles and pretend to be going crazy, let that inner child out and have fun.
5 Do It Together
What's a better way to make sure that our kids are brushing their teeth properly than by doing it with them. We can brush our pearly whites side by side while they brush their milky whites, and together, parent and child have another thing they can bond on.
Doing things together is the foundation of bonding, and brushing our teeth is right there, we just have to grab the opportunity. Teach them how to properly brush their teeth, maybe a little later teach them how to floss and use a mouthwash. This 5-minute nightly activity could be an integral bonding moment with our kids.
4 Good And Fun Habits Work
Aside from playing games, we can let our kids form good habits while brushing. Something that they can identify with cleaning their teeth and grooming themselves would really help.
Start with brushing together in front of the mirror, that's always a fun time for them. Maybe try counting the brush strokes, up and down, left to right. Or chant the kinds of teeth with them while cleaning them, incisors, cuspids, premolars, molars.
We can also time the brushing, use an egg timer, or a phone's alarm, it's fun to see them rushing when they hear the last 10-second alert chime.
3 Rewarding Pearly Whites
Let's also try to provide the kids with some kind of incentive while they form the habit of brushing their teeth. Try this: announce that every time they brush their teeth without us reminding them, they'll get a nice surprise. That should get them running to the bathroom sink right after finishing a meal.
Let's employ the carrot method and give it to the cute little bunny that always brushes their teeth. Have the kids line up in front of you and smell their breath after brushing, tell them they did a good job, but don't use candy as a reward, they just brushed their teeth, remember.
2 Have A Routine
It's important to have a routine on this because it's a habit that we want them doing for the rest of their lives. It's just good sense. So while at a young age let's have our kids create that routine of cleaning their mouth by themselves.
We can always do it with them at first, brushing after every meal or at least before bed. Then come the constant reminders later, especially before they get tucked into bed after every night. One day we'll just realize we have not been reminding them anymore, then off to college they go.
1 If All Else Fails, Do This
If those nine things just won't work and we are still trying to make them brush their teeth every night, then let's bring out the big guns. Two tips in here, but this is our last resort.
First, try telling them a story about not brushing teeth and the bad effects of it, get those storytelling skills working and make those tales as tall as we can to inform them about the effects of tooth decay.
Second, don't brush for a whole day then let them smell your breath, tell them it stinks because you haven't brushed the whole day and that it could happen to them, too. That stinky smell should teach them to brush.