Young children don’t understand why they have to clean their teeth. Although it may sound strange to adults, children have no conception of the fact that decisions they make today can affect their health in years to come. This means that no matter how many times you tell them that they’ll get holes in their teeth if they don’t brush, they won’t listen.
Getting kids to voluntarily put a brush in their mouths and scrub with nasty tasting toothpaste is a real challenge and one that many moms have faced over the years. But how can it be overcome? How can you get your children to a place where they just brush their teeth out of habit, and you don’t need to nag them? Take a look at some of this hard-won advice.
Offer Choices To Get The To Cooperate
One of the reasons kids don’t like cleaning their teeth has nothing to do with the process itself. Rather, they don’t want to do it because they feel like they’re being forced to do it against their will. Instead of being confrontational, try offering them a choice instead. For instance, dentists for children often offer kids a choice between two toothpaste flavors. The choice itself makes the child feel as if they have control and it also pushes them to do what you want them to do, which is clean their teeth. Most children will start scrubbing automatically, if only because they want to see what their toothpaste tastes like.
Play Copy Cat
Young children, especially infants, learn about their world by copying the people around them. Their brains are literally hardwired to mirror the behavior of others (which is why some kids are so similar to their parents). Adults can use this fact of biology to their advantage, bringing their toddlers into the bathroom with them, whenever they clean their teeth.
Get your child to stand next to you in front of the bathroom mirror and ask them to copy how you brush. Give them a toothbrush and toothpaste and show them what to do. They’ll soon start trying it out for themselves. Try not to interfere at this early stage, even if it doesn’t look like they’re doing a particularly good job. The most important thing is to get them used to putting the toothbrush in their mouth and moving it around.
Use Sound Effects To Emphasize Good Habits
Kids love sound effects, and you can use these to your advantage when you’re trying to get your kid to use good brushing technique. Sound effects like “there” help to get children to show their front teeth, while sound effects like “aaah” help gets to the teeth at the back of the mouth.
Keep Brushing Short
Although toothpaste tubes say that you need to brush your teeth for two minutes, throwing kids in at the deep end is a bad idea and can lead to resistance. A much better strategy is to keep brushing to a minimum for the first few weeks and then build it up from there, using a timer if required.