Does the teeth brushing part of your child’s bedtime routine feel like trying to pry open an iron vice that happens to be moving frantically? Is it similar to interacting with a piranha that is admittedly still cute but bewildering belligerent as it snaps at you? Whether brushing is a battle of wills at your house or just plain exasperating, here are some tips that might help:
Anything you want to become a lifetime habit you need to start as early as you can. For babies, start as soon they have their first couple teeth. For older children, start now! Get down on your child’s level, look them in the eyes, and tell them how much you love to see them smile. Talk about working together to keep the cavity bugs away. Brush regularly, too. Twice a day for two minutes if you can! Missing even once or twice can throw a child out of routine.
Give Children Choices
Involve your child in choosing his or her own toothbrush. Their favorite color or character could be enough to get them more excited, or at least willing. Be responsive to your child’s flavor preferences, too. If they don’t like the first toothpaste flavor you try, get something new! If you’re a “Colgate person,” you probably wouldn’t appreciate having to use Crest either. If you’re interested in samples or recommendations, ask Dr. Thomas.
We found these great all-natural kid-friendly flavors over at Jack n’ Jill. They also sell some really fun tooth brushing accessories. If you want a cool review of their products, check out the Homemaking Heather blog, where she has her kids test some flavors! If you prefer mainstream toothpaste to all natural (who has time to special order toothpaste?), the major toothpaste manufacturers all have great kid options.
Make It Fun
Be playful with your child. See what gets them grinning and cooperative, and go with that! Pretend to brush their ears and talk about how silly that is. Let your child try brushing your teeth. When your kiddo is old enough (around age 2), let them take a turn at brushing their own teeth. Pretend to be a superhero team of teeth brushers!
Focus on Successes
Children’s response to positive reinforcement after good behavior can be surprisingly strong and long lasting. When your child has a good night or morning of teeth brushing, make a big deal out of it! Praise them, and tell them how sparkly their clean teeth are. Tell them how proud you are that they want to take good care of their body. If your child responds well to bribes, er, incentives, try a sticker chart with a reward system, or consider an extra bedtime story or song after a successful brushing.
You know your child best. You’re aware of how their day went and whether a teeth brushing battle is worth waging. Do your best, but don’t be too hard on your child or yourself. If something doesn’t work, trying something else. Don’t feel like you have to push too hard. Little by little, your brushing experiences should improve and before you know it, those battles will be a thing of the past. Happy brushing!
If your child is ready for their first (or next!) dental visit, contact Rolling Ridge Dentistry and book an appointment with Dr. Thomas. 😀