My children have been pretty successful at brushing their teeth – how did I get them there? Praise, rewards and teamwork, for the most part. Handed down from my parents, here are a few tactics:
1. Have them select the tools. A child’s selection of the toothbrush and paste can inspire kids to maintain healthy brushing habits. Speaking of routine, be sure to model (and practice) brushing teeth after breakfast, lunch and before bedtime. Consistent routine and their choosing of the tools create enthusiasm and participation for learning of this life-long important habit.
2. Make brushing a family activity. Brush with your child. Make it fun with a song, counting the teeth as you go. Invite them to bring a cherished doll or stuffed animal into the bathroom to watch. Have them model brushing to their “friend”. Tell a story that continues with each tooth brushing experience. Include them in the story, and ask them to fill in parts. If your child is younger, tell the same story or sing the same tooth brushing song each time you meet to brush your teeth.
3. Rewards! Create a “Tooth Brushing” chart. Give them a sticker or star for each time they finish brushing their teeth. Here are some online resources for charts and reward programs:
Thomas and Friends Brushing Rewards Chart:
Free Printable Behavior Charts:
Chuck E Cheese Reward Charts:
About.com has links to reward charts, brushing tips and dental fun activities:
DLTK Online offers free craft ideas, Tooth Brushing Songs, charts, and more:
American Dental Association website has great printable activity sheets and informational tips for families. Find trivia, coloring sheets, ”How To’s”, Sudoku and brushing certificates:
4. Patience and praise works. Let your child know what they’re doing right. Positively, and cheerfully practice what needs work. Involve grandparents and caregivers in their progress. Encouragement from people other than the parents goes a long way towards reinforcing the skill they are learning.