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Use 'The Force' not Force

How to make Brushing Teeth fun for children aged 2 – 5 years:

My kids loving brushing their teeth. But this wasn’t always the case. It took me a long time to coax my son into his love of brushing. And it took ‘The Force’ to do it.

Let me take you back a bit: Four years ago, when my daughter was 18 months old I bought her, her first toothbrush. It was a Tigger toothbrush because she loved him. But when I tried to brush her teeth for the first time she screamed. It became such an ordeal that when I came near her with her toothbrush she would turn and run. Mind you she loved walking around the house with my toothbrush.

Eventually, I began to think of ways I could make teeth brushing fun. So one day I took her love of my toothbrush and used it to my advantage. I got her to brush my teeth at the same time I brushed hers. It was messy and I got poked in the gums a lot; but it was hilariously fun and a huge success! Little Miss laughed the whole time and I took advantage of her wide-open mouth to brush her teeth properly.

Fast forward two years to the day I tried that move on our son. Epic fail! He would just bite the toothbrush and poke me in the cheek with mine.  So I needed a new tactic. I thought about what my son loves; Thomas the Tank Engine, reading, and Star Wars. When I eventually found a Star Wars toothbrush at the supermarket I felt like I had won the lotto. And this toothbrush played music! I used that to my advantage to teach him how to correctly brush. We created a jingle to the Star Wars theme song: “cirrr-cle, circle, cirrrr-cle, circle, cirrr-cle, scrub, scrub, flick”. Another funny, yet effective teeth brushing experience.

There are many stories just like mine, about parents struggling to find that one trick to teach their children about oral hygiene. Fortunately, there seem to be just as many effective old wives’ tales, new toothbrush designs or innovative tricks to help. My top picks are:

1.     Make brushing fun. Find that thing your child loves and use it to your advantage;

2.     Teach them to hum the ABC’s as they brush – it will ensure they are brushing for long enough;

3.     Buy them an automatic toothbrush. They come in all sorts of character designs and they are an effective way of ensuring the brush gets right into the crevices of the mouth;

4.     Use a chart. My daughter has a chart which she marks off morning and night after she brushes. This may not work for small children but ages 3 and up should understand it. If needed you can also bribe them with a fun activity if they get 14 ticks in a week; and

5.     Get the whole family involved. Make your oral hygiene routine a whole family activity every night before the kids’ bedtime. If they see you do it, they may be more inclined to do it too, because don’t all kids like copying what their parents do?

For more information and tips on how to get your child to enjoy brushing their teeth contact our friendly team at KIDS Mackay or book an appointment.

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