It’s hard enough to make your child go to school and eat their vegetables, let alone brush their teeth. We don’t need to tell you how important it is to set up good habits early—the issue is getting that message across to your child. How do you motivate them to brush their teeth if they find the task to be boring and unpleasant? Using the following tips, your kid’s teeth will be shining in no time:
- Make it fun. Take the boring out of brushing by turning teeth hygiene time into something more exciting. Depending on what your child likes, you can add various elements to make this more fun. Try playing their favorite song, which also helps measure how long your child needs to brush teeth (aim for 2 minutes). Turn it into a dance party, or act like the brush is an air guitar. Get silly with it! By engaging your child in this important habit, they’ll find themselves looking forward to it rather than avoiding it.
- Set a good example. Children are observational learners. Many of them want to follow what their parents do, which you can take advantage of by brushing and flossing your teeth each day. When they see how often you do it, they’ll be more likely to follow suit. You’re a role model for your child—by brushing together, you’re showing them how to take care of themselves properly.
- Help them learn more about teeth. Children will find it harder to care about their teeth if they don’t understand what they’re for. You can choose interesting movies or apps that teach kids about brushing teeth. The owner of a Winnipeg dentist business said, “Children are curious, and when you answer their questions, they usually want to know more. At our dental office, we tell kids all about cleaning teeth to educate them about the importance of it.”
- Take them shopping. With a bland toothbrush and ordinary toothpaste, your child may be bored when it’s time to brush their teeth. Why not bring them with you to the dental hygiene aisle at the grocery store? They can select a brush designed like their favorite cartoon character, and get a colorful flavor of toothpaste to match. When it comes time to brush their teeth, they’ll be excited to try their new and personalized hygiene supplies.
- Tell them about the consequences of neglecting your teeth. When baby teeth fall out, explain to your child that adult teeth will grow in their place—but those will be permanent. If you lose an adult tooth, it will be gone forever. How will your child be able to enjoy their favorite foods if they’re missing teeth? To enjoy a healthy, full smile, your child must take care of their teeth every day. You don’t have to scare them by talking about how cavities are filled (avoid any talk of needles), but you can explain why our teeth are important tools that we must take care of.
- Reward them for brushing their teeth. Positive reinforcement works wonders in helping kids form healthy habits. To motivate your child, offer them a toy once they brush their teeth twice a day for 30 days. Hold back on the candy, which can negate the benefits of brushing their teeth. Give them a bigger reward after two months of consistent brushing—this will help them form the habit since it takes this long to do so.
- Play pretend with their toys. Using your child’s dolls, put your kid on the other side of the dentist’s chair. They can use a brush (and even toothpaste, if you don’t mind cleaning up a mess) to clean their toy’s teeth. If the doll has been forgetting to brush, the kid may need to give them a stern lecture! This helps your child associate tooth care with fun playtime. By play-acting this role, your child will feel more motivated to look after their own oral health.
Of all the things that your kids want to do, brushing their teeth is somewhere around the bottom of that list; they’d rather play games, eat candy, and watch their favorite shows. When teaching a child an important habit, it helps to make a game out of it. The above tips will help them develop a brushing routine that will keep their pearly whites strong.