Teaching good oral hygiene to your child is very important and this must start from a young age. But to get your little one to brush her teeth properly in the morning or before bedtime can be quite a hassle. Either they may get distracted very quickly or they may develop an aversion to the habit itself. But you can make brushing teeth a fun activity for your kids. Let’s see how below.
Why Toddlers Hate to Brush Their Teeth
Kids not brushing teeth is the number one problem that most parents face during child rearing. Toddlers, in particular, might resist brushing their teeth as it might seem like a boring and tiring activity. Even if you explain the concept of good dental care and the importance of preventing cavities to them, they still might not understand and further think it is a tiresome activity. Also, when your child becomes a toddler, he or she might try to stop doing things they were previously fine with. Like cleaning up toys, getting dressed or brushing their teeth. They do this to test boundaries and check what is permissible and what they can get away with. The solution is to make brushing teeth a fun activity for them, along with explaining why it is important for their dental health and well being.
How to Make Brushing Teeth Fun for a Toddler
There are several ways you can turn the activity of brushing teeth into a game for children, one in which they can participate and enjoy. Below are a few creative ways on how to get kids to brush teeth
1. Set a Reward
A fun way is to buy or make a calendar for that particular year. Buy a sticker set which your child will love. Tell him that if he brushes his teeth properly every night and every morning for 2 minutes, he gets rewarded with a special sticker placed on the calendar for that day. Keep every day’s sticker a surprise for him. Eventually, when he fills up the calendar with stickers, give him a bigger reward like a toy or a special outing.
2. Be a Good Example
Brush your teeth along with your child. Show them what a good job mommy is doing brushing her teeth. Make sure that they see how well you brush your back teeth, clean your tongue and brush your gums. Make each step exaggerated and showy. In the end, smile at the mirror and show your child how white your teeth are. This can help them learn by example.
3. Let Them Practice on You
Although this is slightly tiresome, it is a good way to get your child interested in brushing his teeth. Open your mouth and ask your child to practice brushing your teeth using a toothbrush. Give fun reactions and praise your child for his good work. Make sure to seem like it is an exciting activity so that your kid will also want to join in. You can also ask him to practice on his toys or stuffed animals with a make-believe toothbrush.
4. Add Some Music
Play some fun music during the 2-minute brushing teeth ritual. Dance along with your kids to the music (maintaining proper brushing of course) and tell him that when the music stops, that means he’s also done with brushing his teeth! There are many apps you can download which plays music for this exact purpose.
5. Change Your Toothpaste Often
There are many interesting flavoured tubes of toothpaste available in the market for children. They will start to brush solely to taste the flavour that they like. Children will also love to see their favourite characters on the packaging and will get encouraged to brush their own teeth this way. For kids less than 3 years of age, you can buy a fluoride-free toothpaste so that they don’t get harmed even if they swallow a bit of the toothpaste by mistake.
6. Turn it Into a Game
You need to make sure your child brushes his teeth for two whole minutes for proper dental care, so make it a race. Race your children against each other or against you while using a timer to see who brushes continuously the longest. You can also make a story about sugar villains attacking your child’s mouth, and the only way to keep his mouth safe is with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You can even tie a scarf around your child like a cape so that he can be a superhero fighting away the sugar villains. Your child will get excited and try to be a superhero every day. But don’t exaggerate on how his mouth is filled with villains, he might become traumatized. Just a little bit of light-hearted storytelling will do.
7. Make Them Independent
Kids love to do ‘grown-up’ things like dressing by themselves or eating without any help or drinking from their own cup. Tell them that brushing teeth is another grown-up activity which you trust them to do on their own – finding the toothpaste, opening the tube and squeezing it out on their toothbrush. This can help hone their confidence, independence, and motor skills. It will also make them proud to be recognized as an equal by an adult and will make them continue to do it so that they can be ‘grown up’ too.
8. Take Them Shopping
Make brushing teeth an important activity in their heads by taking them on a special shopping trip to pick out their own toothpaste and toothbrush. This extra level of dedication will make your child think that brushing one’s teeth is a revered ritual and he should do it to the T.
9. Let Your Dentist Help
If your child does not listen to you when you talk about oral care, maybe he will listen to another adult. Children often want to impress other adults they meet. Especially if the adult is an important looking doctor. If your child looks up to your dentist, take him there and let the dentist talk about why brushing one’s teeth is very important. You can also let your child bring his toothbrush along so that the dentist can demonstrate. This will leave a lasting impression on your child’s mind and encourage him to mimic the dentist too.
10. Make it Family Time
Let your whole family brush their teeth together. Make it a special family time in the mornings and in the evenings. Children will look forward to this activity and will get encouraged to brush their own teeth. You can do this till the child learns the importance of brushing every day. After all, a family that brushes together, stay together!
It might be frustrating for you if your child is slow to make brushing a regular habit but don’t lose patience or hope. A child can always be inculcated with good brushing habits. Make sure never to create fear using threats that you will take him to a dentist if he doesn’t brush properly. Instead, use the above ways and don’t forget to praise your child for all the good work!