For many parents around the world, making sure their children brush their teeth twice daily can be quite the challenge. So much of a challenge in fact, that nearly half of all children in America have experienced some form of tooth decay between the ages of 2 and 11. In order to ensure that their children are maintaining healthy oral behaviors, it’s best for parents to try and incorporate a number of different strategies to encourage their children to brush. The sooner these habits are formed, the more likely children will continue these habits into their adulthood and have stronger, healthier teeth throughout their lives.
However, it’s easier said than done when it comes to these types of habits for children. Brushing their teeth often feels like any other chore for children, and as many parents know, their children might need some additional motivation to get through these tasks. Luckily for parents, there are a number of tips that can be used to make the process of establishing these habits a bit less stressful.
Consider these tips when working to get your children to brush:
Turn Brushing into A Game: children love an excuse to play, so try developing some sort of game that can mask the true task at hand for your child. Anything that can turn the experience of brushing their teeth into something more fun or distracting for them will increase the chances of them brushing more frequently. Races to the sink in the morning or at night to see who can get to the toothbrush first or pretending that you don’t know how to use a toothbrush and having your child instruct you for example. Make it fun in order to make it a habit.
Brushing Together: a common saying amongst children is: “monkey see, monkey do.” It’s no secret that children love to mimic what happens around them. Sometimes this can drive parents crazy, but in this case, it can work in their favor. If your children have a habit of mimicking you, increasing the amount of brushing you do will likely have a positive impact on your children. Making brushing a family activity will help ensure good habits are being formed.
Let Individuality Shine: not every child is the same, so if your child feels particularly uncomfortable with brushing their teeth try to cater more to what will make them comfortable. For some children, it’s a personalized toothbrush. With the wide array of choices out there, there is bound to be a toothbrush that will make your child feel more comfortable. A toothbrush that sings along as you brush your teeth, integrated apps through mobile devices that encourage brushing behaviors, or even just a toothbrush with their favorite cartoon characters on it could do the trick to providing the motivation needed to brush.
Remain Positive: rather than allowing your frustration to leak through, be sure to positively reinforce the healthy habits you see out of your children. It can be tough to remain motivated throughout this process but be sure to encourage your children when you see them making an effort to brush their teeth. This will go a long way.
Begin as Early as Possible: as soon as children feel comfortable holding a toothbrush themselves, start them down the path of establishing some sort of brushing habits. Even if it’s not as effective, it’s creating the habit for them and that is often half the battle in these situations.
Dentist Intervention: at a young age, it’s typical for most children to fear their trips to the dentist’s office. The many different procedures and tools used in the office can be frightening to children, but what children should know is that brushing their teeth in the most effective manner limits the amount of work a dentist needs to do per visit. Having your family’s dentist explain that to your children can go a long way in helping form healthy brushing habits.
For more information on how to establish healthy brushing habits in your children, check out the accompanying resource featured below. Courtesy of Sycamore Hills Dentistry.