Have you endured painful screaming matches when trying to encourage your children to brush their teeth? If so, you shouldn’t feel alone. Teaching children healthy brushing habits is often one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent. In fact, a recent report has indicated that nearly half of all American children have experienced some form of tooth decay within their early adolescence (age 2-11). Despite not being the only parent to struggle, this statistic is staggering. In order to avoid having your children develop any sort of tooth decay, it’s imperative to establish these brushing habits early.
The tough part about this? Most children view brushing their teeth as a chore. Much like their other chores, your children may need a kickstart to really get motivated. In this post, a few methods that have proved successful for families around the world are detailed so you can incorporate them into your family.
One of the first methods, and perhaps most likely to be successful for parents with younger children, is by transforming brushing into some form of game. Young children love participating in any form of game, even ones made up specifically for the sake of them brushing their teeth. Hide their toothbrush and prompt them to find it for a small prize after brushing. Challenge them to a brush off to see who can maintain brushing their teeth the longest. Any way you’re able to make brushing their teeth more of an exciting experience will prove to be beneficial in establishing these brushing habits.
If your child has caught on to all of the imaginary games you’ve crafted, another effective method is companionship. Some times children just don’t feel comfortable brushing alone, so why not make brushing somewhat of a family affair? Every morning and night, have all the available members of the family brush together. This can be extremely effective in establishing long term brushing habits. Alternatively, if your children are notorious for mimicking your behavior, you can try coaxing them into brushing when you brush! Simply play along with their mimicking and begin brushing to see if this can be an effective method for your children.
Perhaps one of the more common methods, but just as effective for parents with younger children, is letting your children select their own toothbrush. Specialized tooth brushes with unique designs, superheroes or cartoon characters are all extremely common picks for children. This sort of individualistic expression is important for children in feeling comfortable with brushing their teeth twice daily, and all parents should feel encouraged to purchase their children whichever brush they prefer. Alternatively, there has been great development in the way of mobile applications that are designed to encourage children to brush through songs, mini games and videos that parents can utilize as well.
Most important of all, however, is the responsibility of parents to educate their children regarding the harm that can come as a result of not brushing their teeth regularly. Often times this comes after their child’s first painful visit to the dentist’s office. Other times this comes as a result of children coming to their parents with regular pain and discomfort in the way of cavities or other oral issues. Parents must properly explain to their children just how serious that brushing regularly is in regards to oral health, and encourage their children accordingly.