Some kids hate brushing their teeth and turn the twice-daily task into a battle. But developing healthy dental habits are essential. Engraining these critical habits into your children’s minds while they are young will lead to good oral hygiene throughout their lives.
Teaching your children good dental hygiene may feel like a never-ending fight, but it is worth it to stick to your guns. Poor oral care can lead to various problems. One of the best things you can do as a parent is to help them develop healthy habits when they are young. The dental hygiene routine will stay with them for life.
Here are twelve ideas on how to motivate kids to brush their teeth:
1. Make Sure You Have the Right Toothbrush
Be sure that the brushes you purchase are soft or extra-soft. It’s normal for kids to have sensitive mouths and feel like brushing hurts; their jaws are growing and may have teeth coming in. A soft toothbrush will make brushing much more tolerable.
2. Ask Them Why They Don’t Like Brushing
There may be something specific that your child dislikes about brushing. It is possible that they are experiencing pain or that brushing feels strange or tickles. Maybe they hate the taste of the toothpaste, or cold water hurts their teeth.
Asking them can help you figure out a way to fix the problem if it is a specific issue. Don’t ask while you are in the middle of a toothbrushing struggle. Wait until a calmer time.
3. Teach Them Why it is Important
For some children, telling them why oral care is so important can make a big difference. Your family dentist and dental hygienist can be an excellent resource for age-appropriate teaching methods.
Most children thrive on routine and predictability. You can create a simple routine designed to fit your child’s individual needs. The most important part of a routine is consistency.
4. Brush to a Song
Everything is more fun with music, and brushing your teeth is no exception. Playing a video or singing a particular toothbrushing song can turn daily dental care into a fun experience. You can even make up a dance to do while brushing. Music can also act as a timer, so you are sure they are brushing long enough.
5. Change the Toothpaste
Most kids’ toothpaste is bubble-gum or fruit flavoured. But it is possible to find alternative flavours, like a gentle mint or cinnamon. Experimenting with the taste might be the trick to getting them to enjoy brushing their teeth.
6. Give Them Choices
Even better than simply changing the toothpaste flavour, let your children pick out their toothpaste and toothbrush. A toothbrush with favourite characters on the handle can go a long way in making oral hygiene more fun. Plus, kids feel empowered when allowed to make choices and will often be more cooperative.
7. Create a Reward System
What kid doesn’t love stickers? A rewards chart with incentives for every week that gets filled up with stickers can go a long way in the brushing battle. Visual aids like a chart will help your child keep track and keeps them involved in the process. Some ideas for sugar-free rewards are picking the movie for a movie night or a trip to a favourite park.
8. Make it a Family Activity
Children usually love to emulate their parents. If brushing your teeth is a family affair, you may be more successful in getting your kids to brush. For added fun, play the mirror game, and take turns copying each other. Let them brush your teeth in exchange for you brushing theirs. Or have a contest to see who can make the most bubbles as they brush.
9. Let them Hold the Brush
Give your child some control back by letting them go first. Let them put the toothpaste on the brush themselves to encourage independence. Don’t forget to tell them what a great job they are doing.
10. Stand Behind Them
If there is any fear involved in the brushing routine, standing behind your child and letting them lean against you can be comforting. Also, brushing their teeth from this position can be easier.
11. Let Them Hold a Toy
Holding a favourite stuffed animal or toy may help some children feel more secure when you are brushing their teeth. They can squeeze the toy as tight as they need to for reassurance. You can even hand them an extra brush and ask them to brush the toy’s teeth.
12. Use a Timer
Getting your kids to brush for the recommended time of two minutes can be challenging. Using a timer is a way to make sure they are brushing long enough to be effective. Try an hourglass timer with colourful sand. Download an app on your phone. You might even opt for an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer.