If a super villain ever needed a new way to torture someone, they should consider sticking them with a bunch of kids at bedtime and tell them to go brush their teeth. The kids’ stall tactics, bellyaching and general disobedience could break the most hardened person. Is it the time of day, the actual act of brushing teeth, or just a rebellious streak that strikes the elementary subset that causes this routine activity to become akin to negotiating peace in the Marvel universe? So, parents, we are here to help you overcome the bedtime slump. We want to help you not only make brushing your kids’ teeth bearable—we want to make it fun!
Spice it up
Sure, we get it…brushing your teeth isn’t as exciting as going to Six Flags. But most things that are important to your health aren’t that fun, really.
To increase the excitement for your kids’ teeth brushing, consider streaming music and dancing while you brush. The music serves as a great distraction and a good guide to how long you have been brushing. It is important to not let the dancing be too much of a distraction or deterrent to good oral hygiene, so make sure a parent is monitoring and that vigorous brushing occurs.
Pick songs that are around two minutes each so your child knows to brush the entire length of the song. Our hope is this will lead to a solid brushing routine and a tired kid after getting all their wiggles out before bedtime!
Switching roles with your kid can sound scary. However, letting them brush your teeth will set the stage for them allowing you to brush theirs. If you’re really concerned about toothpaste going everywhere then just use a wet brush (believe it or not, this works just as well). You can practice counting skills, too by having them count your teeth—or you can turn it into an anatomy lesson by discussing the makeup of the mouth. This is great for the toddler age since sometimes they are simply afraid of the toothbrush and act out since they have no other way to express themselves.
For just a little money, you can take your kid to the drug store and pick out a toothbrush that they love. Whether it has Disney characters or Transformers, having something that is theirs and that they picked out could encourage a kid’s tooth brushing habit.
Also, check out the different flavors of toothpaste while you’re there. While adults associate minty freshness with toothpaste, many kids don’t like that taste. Thankfully, toothpaste companies have created flavors like strawberry or bubble gum just for little ones.
No parent likes to resort to bribery, but sometimes that is the last thing left at your disposal. Instead of bribing with sugary treats (that defeat the purpose of encouraging good oral health) choose other fun actives that your children like to participate in. Do they like going to the park? Maybe give them an extra 20 minutes there. Or let them choose the next restaurant you eat at. These don’t have to be huge things, just small rewards that keep them motivated.
Promoting good oral health starts with tooth brushing, and it begins in childhood. Keeping your child’s teeth healthy is important not only for the health of his or her mouth, but for the health of the whole body as well. Start early by implementing good habits and your children will reap the rewards in the future!
Also published on Medium.