How to Teach Your Kids to Want to Brush Their Teeth
While you can force your children to routinely brush their teeth for a certain amount of time each day, they are likely to skip it whenever they can. It’s more effective to train your kids to want to brush correctly, so they will do it on time, every time, the right way even when they have sleepovers with friends.
Establish a Routine
Children retain new habits better when they are set within a predictable routine. Like washing their face or getting dressed, brushing their teeth should be part of their daily grooming and hygiene practice. As they get used to it from a young age, they will feel uncomfortable and possibly guilty when they forget or try to avoid dental care.
Take them to a kids’ dentistry practice for their first dental checkup. The dentist or hygienist can explain the importance of caring for their teeth and make it a memorable occasion by giving them treat bags with kid-oriented products for dental care. At home, designate the same time each day, possibly at bedtime, to help kids adopt the habit. Remember that going to the dentist should be routine as well. Schedule regular dental visits so that your children are used to going at least once a year.
Follow Up With a Fun Activity
After daily brushing, reward them with a fun activity, such as a bedtime story, a light-hearted pillow fight, or relaxing music. When young children realize they can do something fun after brushing their teeth, they will more eagerly look forward to getting it done, ready for parental inspection, so they can then start the fun stuff.
Use Flashy Toothbrushes
Small children love brushing with cute toothbrushes that feature their favorite cartoon characters. You can buy them toothbrushes that, with the click of a battery-operated button, flash intermittently for a minute to help the kids brush their teeth for an adequate amount of time. Show them how to make up short stories about their character-themed toothbrushes exploring their mouths as a “cave” and having an exciting adventure. Make brushing game-like to hold the kids’ interest until they get used to brushing for its own sake.
Let the Kids Pick the Toothpaste
Your children’s dentist may recommend certain dental products to use, but there may be a choice of a few at the store. Let your kids pick out a favorite color or brand that piques their interest to involve them in the process and enable them to choose products they will enjoy.
Make tooth brushing time an upbeat time of day to keep your children interested and enthused. As they get older, they can recall those family time memories as motivation to keep brushing.
By Anita Ginsburg
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