When children are old enough to understand its importance, getting your kids to brush their teeth ceases to be a struggle. But when you’ve got toddlers on your hands that want everything to be fun, it can be difficult to come up with ways that keep you from feeling like you’re fighting with your child every night at bedtime. If your toddler sees brushing their teeth like a chore, their willingness to do it is much less than if it seems like something enjoyable and game-like. The following are some creative ideas to get your little one’s pearly whites shining with as few tears and meltdowns as possible!
1. Copy Cat
Bring your toddler into the bathroom with you and show them how you brush your teeth. Show enthusiasm and excitement. Explain how it’s fun and feels good to your teeth and gums and makes it so your teeth will stay strong and healthy. Explain how food and sweets can get stuck in your teeth and how it’s your toothbrush’s job to get them out of there. Make it fun! Put your child up on the counter and have them try brushing your teeth. This will help them see that it’s not scary at all and that it won’t hurt. Then have them brush the teeth of their favorite doll or stuffed animal. Finally, have them brush their own teeth and let you help with reaching the difficult spots. This will help them see that brushing their teeth can be fun even though it’s necessary.
2. Give Them the Choice
Help your child feel that brushing their teeth is a big kid activity that they get to be a part of. Make it an outing with them! Take your child out to the store when you go to buy their toothbrush and make it a fun occasion. Show them which toothbrushes will work for their mouth size and have them pick the one that they like best. Then look at kids’ toothpastes together and have them pick out their favorite flavor like strawberry or bubblegum. This helps them feel in control of what’s going on and excited about brushing their teeth!
3. Make it a Musical Affair
What makes something feel more fun than with a song? Making a tooth-brushing jingle or song can make the process feel like more of a game to your toddler. Sing something like, “Brush, brush, brush your teeth…” to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat or simply sing the theme song from your child’s favorite cartoon like Mickey Mouse Club House, Winnie the Pooh, or Sid the Science Kid. Sing it while you brush their teeth and decide in advance how many times through the song makes for a thorough brushing.
4. Create a Diversion
Having your child distracted while you brush their teeth may make the process a whole lot easier on you. Maybe have them sit in your lap while they watch a few minutes of a show or just put them on the counter in such a way that they can watch themselves brushing in the mirror. Sometimes just seeing their reflection can be enough to make it interesting for them and distract them from what they’re doing.
5. Try a Fancy Toothbrush
With today’s plethora of teeth-brushing options at affordable prices, it may be worth it to invest those few extra dollars and get your child an electronic toothbrush. They even make ones that have music built in so that your child knows how long to brush for. It’s easy to find one that will be right up your child’s alley and make brushing more pleasant for everyone! Children’s Sonicare toothbrushes are available for purchase at The Kidd’s Place.
6. Change it Up
Here are some random tips and tricks that have worked well for some parents:
– Try changing up your language. Say something like, “I’m going to tickle your teeth!” rather than saying “brush”. This makes it feel silly and fun for your toddler!
– Try brushing while your little one is in the bath. It might be easier to incorporate it right into their bath time routine rather than making it a separate event. Brush rubber ducky’s teeth and Mr. Tugboat’s teeth and then make it your child’s turn.
– Find a funny video of your child on your phone or maybe a special YouTube video they enjoy and make it the brushing video. They can only watch it while getting their teeth brushed and they have to sit very still while watching. This creates a distraction while making your child see it as something fun rather than a chore.
If songs aren’t working for you, try making it a tooth-brushing countdown. Pick a number like 15 or 20 and start counting down to 1. When you’ve done it once for the top and once for the bottom, you can be through!
7. When All Else Fails…
Sometimes you can try every little gimmick and game and your child still won’t fall for it. They’ll be too smart for their own good and know exactly what you’re trying to do no matter how well you disguise it. When this happens, don’t despair! Teeth brushing will still get done. It just may not be as fun as you were hoping. When this happens, resort to the basics: hold your child in your lap with their neck resting on your non-dominant arm. Then proceed to brush their little teeth until they sparkle! If you have a particularly stubborn toddler, you may need to tag team them with your partner, having them hold the lower half of your child’s body while you have their head in your lap. The more used to the process they get, the less they’ll squirm. Make sure to keep it from being a scary thing though. You don’t want them blurring the lines and developing a fear of everything that involves their teeth. Keep it as light as possible and hopefully in time they’ll come to see it as an enjoyable practice!
Of course, with any of these methods, always make sure your toddler’s teeth are getting fully cleaned. Teach them how to move their brush and make sure they’re reaching far back enough in their mouths to get all of their little pearly whites. Happy brushing!