Brushing teeth can be a nightly battle for most families. You are not alone! Parents are tired by the end of the day and running on reserve, just when it seems our kids are ramping up. Try these ideas to find the fun and invite cooperation into your little one’s teeth brushing routine. Remember that kids crave and will always need connection, no matter what the age! By getting silly and staying present, it can be a connecting moment and sweet way to end the day as opposed to something you both have to get through.
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game.”
~ Mary Poppins
While it may seem like extra effort and a little more time to find the fun, think of the alternative: power struggles, nagging, whining, or full showdowns. Which do you choose?
Get an audience
Put out a stuffy or two (or five!) to watch. Kids love to perform and will make sure their teeth are being brushed if they are being watched by Mr. Bear. Let them be the director by giving them a hand mirror so they can direct you on any teeth you missed and watch the action.
Who’s in there?
While you brush ask, “Who is in there? I think I see a giraffe! And an elephant too! Wait is that Moana?” Pick their favorite animal or character and keep using it. Kids love to hear things over and over. When it starts to lose its luster ask them who they want to have hiding.
Ask Alexa to play The Toothbrush Song, or put on the Sesame Street classic song “Brush Your Teeth.” Limit the songs to ONLY when you brush your teeth so it stays special.
Brush at the same time
Let them hold a toothbrush and you hold a toothbrush and take turns brushing each other’s teeth. Have a variety of toothbrushes or at least two that they can choose from.
Ask, “How does a dinosaur open his mouth?” “How does a dragon get her teeth brushed?” Or, “Who do you want to pretend to be tonight while we brush teeth?”
Don’t be limited to the bathroom
For little ones who aren’t rinsing and spitting yet, you can brush teeth anywhere: in the crib, reading chair or even on the changing station. For older kids they can floss in bed, in the car, or even in the shower.
As your kiddos grow, ask them what will make it fun. We went from all the ideas above, to doing full dentist appointments pretending to be the dentist. Then we evolved to a statue game pretending I was a dental student needing to buy a statue to practice on (seriously!) and now we do jokes and riddles during that time. I think of a joke or riddle (thank you Google) and my daughter thinks of the answer while she is brushing and flossing. For an extra memory boost, she has to hold the answer in her mind until she is done.
What would you add to this list? Add in the comments below!