Children begin developing independence during toddler hood. Independence is an important trait, but exerting it can cause battles between parents and children. These battles are especially tiring at bedtime. Some toddlers and absolutely refuse to allow parents to brush their teeth. Some older children think it is no big deal to hop into bed without brushing their teeth at the end of the day. Parental frustration often ensues. Don’t despair. There are many ways to creatively convince your toddlers and children to brush their teeth and to allow you to help them.
For starters, it is often very helpful to allow your child to have a role in the teeth brushing process. Allow children to choose a toothbrush that particularly appeals to them. Also allow them to choose a toothpaste that they like. There are many colorful and kid friendly toothbrushes. There are also specialty toothbrushes, such as those that blink when a child has brushed for the appropriate amount of time. Giving children simple choices such as these can go a long way in their attitude toward teeth brushing.
Secondly, point out the posters on the wall at the dental office that show what happens to teeth that aren’t taken care of properly. Perhaps you could also take the dental hygienist or dentist aside and ask them to specifically address brushing and the dangers of not brushing, with your child. They may hear things differently when coming from a professional.
A third idea that is specific to the toddler set is to take turns. Allow your toddler a certain amount of time to brush his or her teeth independently. You may even want to allow them to brush your teeth. Then, you can switch roles. Your toddler can feel that they were doing part of the job on their own, and they might find it funny and engaging that they are allowed to brush your teeth as well. Humor can greatly increase willingness to cooperate.
Children who like to read may be swayed to brush their teeth by reading books about children brushing their teeth and even visiting the dentist. Some dental books give song ideas that can be used as part of your everyday routine. Using charming storybook characters and music is a great way to keep everything lighthearted when it comes to tooth brushing.
Finally, many children enjoy using timers. Allow your child to exert independence by having him or her set a kitchen timer for an appropriate brushing time. Make sure that something enjoyable also occurs promptly after brushing. For example, at the “ding” of the timer in the morning, he or she heads to the living room to watch a favorite show, or at bedtime, heads to the bedroom for a nighttime story.
Take the time when your children are young to install good dental habits. They will thank you later!
Jennie is a dental marketing consultant and part-time blogger living in California. She recommends 123 Postcards, a performance based dental marketing firm that offers superior dental marketing services that other dental marketing companies simply cannot match.