The “I don’t want to brush my teeth” phrase is rather familiar to parents. However, as parents we have to form good oral care habits from a young age and the best way we can do this is by making brushing fun so our children can enjoy the activity.
It is definitely not an easy task to complete, and to some parents, it can be a battle. But as experts point out, it’s a fight worth having. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease among children aged 6-19, and it is linked to everything from speech delays to dental pain and infections.
Playing “beat the timer” and making funny faces while our boys are brushing are just some of the silly but effective ways my husband and I get our two sons excited about taking care of their teeth. Our hard work has paid off because now, the boys are happy to brush twice a day and are always excited to display their sparkling white teeth to the dentist when we go for checkups.
Children have short attention spans and may not understand why they have to do something as boring as brushing their teeth every single day. However, there are some things you can do to help make brushing seem more fun and encourage your kids to take care of their teeth.
Here are 7 tips you can do to help make brushing more fun for children!
TIP 1: Get Flavourful Toothpaste
It is not all children that love the common mint toothpaste. Luckily, you have an array of options when it comes to children’s toothpaste. The packaging should be exciting enough for a child, so get toothpaste that has a theme that your child prefers. You can also have fun flavours such as strawberry, watermelon, berry, bubble gum, or vanilla. Your child will find the cartoon themes and the flavours intriguing.
If your child is under three years, use training toothpaste. At such a young age, children tend to swallow it. Fluoride-free toothpaste is safer at this stage.
TIP 2: Get Creative with the Toothbrush
Having a special toothbrush is one of the tools that’ll make teaching kids to brush their teeth easy.
When shopping for toothbrushes for the children, a cartoon-themed brush will be preferable. The idea of using a Mickey Mouse toothbrush will have kids looking forward to the activity.
While at it, ensure that the bristles are soft enough. You don’t want to get a toothbrush that’ll hurt your baby’s gums. Make sure to replace the brush every 3 to 4 months.
TIP 3: Use Role playing
Teaching kids to brush their teeth through role-playing can be fun and can reduce oral health problems.
Your kids can use their dolls to play dentist. If you are looking for a toy preference, I recommend the Baby Alive Brushy Baby Doll because it comes with a tube of pretend toothpaste and a pretend electric toothbrush so that your child can practice brushing while playing.
To make tooth brushing for kids more interesting, you can also allow them to check your teeth as they play dentist. Brush each other’s teeth in the process. Children will find the activity fulfilling.
TIP 4: Allow Your Children Practice on You
If you are tired of fighting your child on brushing, allow them practice using a toothbrush on you.
When doing this, make it seem fun (make funny faces), when they notice that you are enjoying it, they will want to join in on the fun.
TIP 5: Incorporate Brushing Into Playtime
Children learn through play, so you can teach them about brushing by incorporating it into playtime. Find a spare toothbrush to keep lying around for playtime. Encourage your kid to brush their stuffed animal’s teeth, baby doll’s teeth, even bath toys’ teeth. Read books about teeth and oral hygiene. Role-play and let your kid brush your teeth. Pretend to be a dentist and talk about brushing teeth. The more they see the behaviour modeled in everyday life, the more they will want to do it. Brushing teeth is pretty cool anyway!
TIP 6: Set a Good Example
Children pick up habits fast from parents. We’ve seen little boys watch their father shave, and little girls gazing in fascination while their mother performs her skincare routine. So why not do the same with brushing?
Let your kids watch while brushing and use exaggerated gestures to show how important each step is.
When you are done, make sure you look very happy and proud of your efforts to show your child the reward of a brushing job well done.
Also, brushing teeth together as a family can be fun. Your children will view the activity positively. They’ll look forward to brushing their teeth because of the positive reinforcement.
Resist using forceful words to get your kids to brush their teeth. Give them time to adjust to the activity. Have them watch the adults and teach them gently.
TIP 7: Offer Rewards
If nothing else works, it is okay to offer rewards for brushing. It does need to be an elaborate prize. You can use a sticker reward system with little prizes guaranteed with a certain amount of brushes, or allowing your child to pick the book for bed time stories.
Purchase, print out or create your own calendar for 2020. Buy sets of stickers you think your child will love. Every night or morning after your child has finished brushing his teeth; place a sticker on the calendar to mark a successful cleaning. If he successfully fills up a full month of the calendar with stickers, reward your child with an even bigger reward, like a bonus in his allowance or a toy he has wanted.
There are lots of ways to make brushing more fun for young children! Try out these tips and let us know what works for your child!