Few young children are consistently cooperative when it comes to brushing teeth.
And of course, even if they're keen, young children lack the manual dexterity to do a thorough job.
Brushing properly and regularly doesn’t just benefit our children while they are growing up; it sets the stage for a lifetime of great teeth, good oral hygiene, and easy dental check-ups.
If brushing teeth is a battle at your place, try these tips:
- Make brushing teeth fun. Children (like us!) have a natural aversion to being forced to do something. Turn it into something they want to do. Bring in a stuffed animal to brush too, time brushing with a song or egg timer, or make brushing a contest.
- Celebrate when they’re done. Be sure to compliment them on a great job.
- Brush with them. Set a good example by not treating brushing your own teeth as a chore. Get identical toothbrushes. Show them the right way, project excitement. They’ll want to join in.
- Make a mess. With lots of brushing there should be lots of foam and bubbles. Encourage children to make lots of bubbles.
- Let them choose. If your child can pick their own toothbrush and toothpaste then their choice invests them in the process and makes them feel as if they have some control and a role to play.
- Establish rewards. If your children know they are working towards an unbroken streak or a goal number then they will be more willing to brush better. Make a chart and mark off the days.
- Make it a family activity. Brush and floss in front of them enough times and they will want to join in.
- Let your child brush your teeth too. Children feel in control, not like someone is at their mouth with a point object!
- Get out of the bathroom. Brush on outings, at the beach, or just go outside and use a garden hose!
- If toothpaste is the issue, skip it. We don’t have to have toothpaste to clean our teeth.
- Get in front of a mirror.
- Don't expect perfection at the start. We're establishing a life-long habit here!
The bottom line: it’s all about turning brushing from a chore children are forced to do into a fun, important activity they want to do.