Brushing your teeth may be the most important part of a good dental hygiene plan. These good habits start early, and getting your children to brush their teeth regularly will set them up for good dental health in the future. But some children struggle with this routine. Many parents wonder, how do I get my kids to start brushing their teeth? Let’s take a look at a few strategies that might work for your children.
How Do I Get My Kids to Start Brushing Their Teeth? 8 Strategies to Try
1. Use Games
One of the most common ways to get kids to start brushing their teeth is to use games. There are many mobile games that can make teeth-brushing fun. Play these games with your kids and brush your teeth with them. Not only will these games make your kids think that brushing their teeth is fun, but you will also set a good example by brushing your teeth with them.
2. Timed Dance
For very energetic children, movement can help make any activity more fun. Put on a fun song and dance while you brush. The song doesn’t need to be very long! But, brushing for an extra minute or two certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Using rewards and positive reinforcement is an easy and time-honored trick to create good habits. To get your kids to start brushing their teeth, consider a small reward they might get in exchange. Maybe this would include a few extra minutes before they have to go to bed. Or, you might add teeth-brushing to a good behavior chart, and provide a larger reward when children meet a certain amount of good behavior points.
Combining any chore with a reward is an easy way to make the activity better. However, be sure to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene by itself. If an activity becomes permanently coupled with a reward, it might not become a habit if kids grow out of the rewards. Also, be careful not to reward good teeth-brushing exclusively with sugary drinks or candy. Consuming too much soda or candy can be harmful to teeth.
4. Combine with a Fun Activity
Combining an unpleasant activity with a fun one is a great way to create good habits. To get kids to start brushing their teeth, consider how you might combine teeth-brushing with a more fun activity. Maybe your kids like taking a bath, but don’t like brushing their teeth. Or, maybe your kids like hearing a story or reading a book before bed. Or, maybe you can watch a short, fun video while your kids brush their teeth. Consider what activity your kids enjoy, and see if you can combine these activities with teeth-brushing.
5. Use Special Toothpaste or Toothbrushes
Teeth-brushing by itself is a boring task. However, this task might become more fun when it’s combined with a particular character your kids enjoy, like as a superhero or cartoon character. If your kids are drawn to toothpaste or toothbrushes with a particular movie or cartoon theme, this might be a good way to make brushing more fun.
6. Create a Challenge
Simply completing a task for the sake of completing it can be hard for kids, especially, to understand. However, many kids react well to challenges. Challenge your kids to brush their teeth longer or more times than you do, and keep track of the amount of time you spend. The winner might get a special prize, or will at least have bragging rights.
7. Make it Easy
One of the most important aspects about creating any new habit is to make it as easy as possible. If, for example, children feel rushed in the morning and they don’t have enough time to brush their teeth, it’s going to be harder to create a good habit. Work with your existing habits and lifestyle, not against them. Maybe that means getting your kids to start brushing their teeth a bit earlier in the evening, if bedtime is a battle. Or, that may mean getting up a bit earlier to have extra time in the morning.
8. Take it Slow
Getting your kids to brush their teeth and, in some cases, adjusting your routine to make time, isn’t an easy task. Good habits don’t form overnight. Remember that it will take time, and some days will be harder than others. Don’t rush. As long as you’re teaching your children that brushing their teeth is important and it’s a good thing, you’re on the right track.