As a premier children’s dentist in Utah, we at Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry know full well how difficult it can be to get your young children to brush their teeth. Tooth brushing quickly comes to feel like a chore just as much as visiting your kids’ dentist, and defiant youngsters may waste lots of time – and more importantly, dental health – by being difficult about it.
How can you go about incentivizing your kids to brush? There are a few simple ways.
Set an Example
Your children look to you to set their baseline, and they love to mimic you in their earliest years. The easiest way to turn tooth-brushing into a positive that your kids enjoy is showing them you enjoy it as well. If you make diligence the norm, they’ll adjust to that pattern.
Make it Special
Making the experience personal and special for young children is a great way to keep them on board. Try turning their toothbrush or toothpaste into special items – using their favorite TV character or allowing them to put some designs on the toothbrush are perfect outlets. If they have a favorite stuffed animal or doll, maybe you buy a mini toothbrush for their companion as well so they can brush together.
Let Them Own It
There are young ages where you’ll need to help your kids with brushing (talk to our professionals at Children’s Crossing about these ages for your children), but wherever possible, allow them to take ownership of the process. If it helps to let them brush your teeth on occasion, do that. Anything that allows them to feel like they’re taking control plus enjoying themselves is a great outlet.
Some kids will inevitably have issues even if you employ the above strategies, and for the sake of their dental health, you may have to take a roundabout route. Maybe your child will only brush if they’re watching their favorite show or reading their favorite book, and maybe you have to minimize the actual brushing as a secondary activity so they don’t “notice” what’s happening (some parents sing or play music, for instance). Most kids will grow out of this by a reasonable age.
Most of all, make sure you’re patient and understanding with your children. It’s hard for them to understand why brushing is so important at a young age, and you need to toe the line between firm and forgiving.
Children’s Crossing is a premier pediatric dentist serving Utah patients, and we’re here to help if you have any home dentistry or other questions.