Getting kids to brush their teeth can often feel a like hostage negotiation. There’s bribery, trust building, a list of demands, and talking – lots and lots of talking! When our little people really don’t want to do something, it can take all our persuasive power to bring them round to our way of thinking.
But if you’re frustrated by the daily tooth brush battle, never fear. Here are some top tips shared by parents on reddit that reveal how they fought the battle themselves – and won!
When it comes to brushing teeth, dentists always advise starting as early as possible. In the early days it can be as simple as giving baby a toothbrush to chew on – anything that gets them used to the feeling of bristles in their mouth.
Jacques Noir said: “We started really early. Gave our daughter a baby toothbrush before she even had any teeth. Naturally it went straight in her mouth and she’d chew on it. It got her used to the feeling of having it in her mouth. Since then it’s never been a struggle at all; she actually enjoys brushing her teeth!
“When they hit about one and a half to two, we’d have them play with the toothbrush to encourage them to put it in their mouth. Then we’d encourage them to brush their own teeth morning and night with us, mimicking our actions.
“By about four they only really needed moderate supervision to make sure they take their time and don’t mess around. By about six they were brushing their teeth confidently with little supervision.”
Be a copycat
Kids copy their role models, whether it’s mum and dad or an older sibling. Research from Mydentist showed that 37% of parents brush their teeth at the same time as their children to set a good example.
01-__-10 said: “We made it a group activity so if they don’t do it they feel left out. They all do it without a fuss now. The youngest (14 months) absolutely loves it!”
Jedichop also follows the copycat rule: “My son is 16 months old and he has a training toothbrush – we do it twice a day. It works because he is going through a phase right now where he loves to do everything dad does and so when I brush my teeth, he wants to brush too.”
Up your game
In the immortal words of Dr Seuss: “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.” Getting kids to brush their teeth using games and play means that kids are more likely to associate cleaning their teeth with positive feelings.
Kenwenot said: “It took a while but once you nail down the playing of ‘clean the tiger teeth’ it makes it easier. It also helps that she loves tigers and I keep showing her ‘clean tiger teeth’.”
So you’ve tried the fun stuff and it hasn’t worked? Sometime you just have to roll up your sleeves and get tough. For some children seeing what could happen if they don’t look after their teeth is the most effective tactic. Mydentist discovered that 26% of parents told their children their teeth would fall out if they didn’t brush.
eek04 said: “We threaten to not brush their teeth. Mind you, that threat has never been carried out. We’ve talked about how bacteria can be bad for their teeth, and showed pictures from the Internet – and then constructed teeth brushing as a favour we do for them. Now it’s something that they want to do.”
Got your own great tips for getting kids to brush their teeth? You can share them in the box below.