You know that brushing your child’s teeth or having your child brush is important. You want them to brush, but they just won’t do it.
Before you lose your cool let’s talk about some ways to motivate your child to brush their teeth.
Big kids around the age of 4-7 are an interesting group. They are very aware of what they should and shouldn’t do, but they will still testing their boundaries every now and then.
This age is a little easier to work with because it is relatively easy to motivate them versus a preteen.
Let’s start with the basics of getting younger kids motivated.
First things first
First, kids need a toothbrush. Not just any toothbrush. But a fun toothbrush with their favorite character. There are so many toothbrushes to choose from that I am sure that there is one with your little one’s favorite character.
If you have checked the stores and can’t find what you’re looking for, check Amazon. There is an assortment of toothbrushes there to choose from.
Another thing that I have found helpful is allowing your child to make choices. It gives them a sense that they are in control and will more likely take initiative to use their new toothbrush. Give them the option to choose from two, but no more than three, different toothbrush options and allow them to decide which will be their toothbrush.
For the preteens and the teenagers (and even some of the younger kids), I would suggest a good electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes help do a lot of the work for you versus a manual toothbrush.
Having an electric toothbrush will be beneficial for preteens and teenagers to effectively clean their teeth.
I am not sure what it is about this age group. But they start to not care as much about their hygiene in general. The easier you can make it, the better. That is why I say go with an electric toothbrush.
You don’t have to break the bank to do this. There are some electric toothbrushes that I buy for my five-year-old that are only $5. Of course, there are other more expensive options.
I would advise not buying the more expensive electric toothbrushes until your child is able to care for it and will actually use it regularly.
One tool that I have found very helpful for motivating for young kids are charts. You can get chore charts, good behavior charts, and toothbrushing charts.
There is something about seeing that chart filled and know that you have ultimately achieved a prize that gets kids going.
This also helps reinforce positive behavior. I have a tooth brushing chart that I created that you can get here.
You can be as creative as you like with these charts using stickers, stamps or markers. You can head over to my favorite store, Dollar Tree, and get some fun stickers to use to fill up the chart.
Or you can print the chart out and put it in an old picture frame. Then use a dry erase marker to check off those daily accomplishments.
Lead by Example
You want to lead by example. You know the saying “practice what you preach?” Now it is time!
You can do this by brushing at the same time as your little one.
Seeing you brushing in action will help with getting your child motivated.
Some children secretly want to be like their parents or are competitive and want to be better than their parents. So, get in front of them and start brushing.
Make it a competition
Speaking of competition, if you know that your child is more competitive than others, use this to your advantage.
Funny story … There was a time that my oldest son would not want to get dressed after taking a bath. He just wanted to run around and be silly. I got tired of nagging and constantly telling him, “put this on.”
His brother was still an infant at the time and needed my help with getting dressed. So I would tell my oldest son, “Your brother is going to beat you. You better hurry up and get your clothes on.” This was like magic to get my oldest to put his clothes on.
I must say that this was short lived and only lasted a few months. However, it was very helpful in getting him into the routine of getting his clothes on after taking a bath.
You can try the same thing with brushing or swishing with mouth rinse. See who can brush the entire two minutes. Or who can swish the mouth rinse for 30 seconds without spitting.
Rewards can be extremely helpful with motivating your child to brush, but be careful. Some kids are pretty manipulative and know how to get the reward without brushing their teeth or doing a poor job brushing.
You know your child best and what your child loves or would love to have. Use that as a reward.
It can be after they fill up the tooth brushing chart or every time they brush, depending on the cost of the reward.
Kids feed off of your energy. They know when you’re happy, sad or angry. Even though it is frustrating, stay positive.
Some kids will drive you crazy just to get a response because they find it amusing. Don’t lose your cool. You got this.
Have a Conversation
Having a conversation about why it is important to brush their teeth can be helpful. Explain that they need to brush to prevent cavities in a gentle and informative way so that they understand why.
You can even use some YouTube videos that are great for illustrating the point. Sometimes they will understand the why and be more motivated to brush on their own.
Also talking to your child and asking if they are having a problem, like a toothache or they don’t like their teeth can help you understand why so that you can help eliminate roadblocks.
You may find out that they just don’t care to brush their teeth. This is not uncommon. Continue trying to find what motivates your child to get them on the path of good oral hygiene.
Give some encouragement
Lastly, you want to encourage and not nag your child to brush their teeth. Encouragement is another positive reinforcement that will help your child repeat and accomplish brushing on their own.
Quick tips to help with toddlers
If you have a toddler, here are some helpful tips for getting them to brush:
Remember to encourage your child to do these things:
-Brush twice a day. In the morning when they wake up and at night before they go to sleep.
-Floss once a day.
-Rinse with a fluoridated mouth rinse (with supervision for the smaller ones) can be especially helpful if your child is more prone to cavities
These basic oral hygiene steps will help them maintain a healthy smile and keep your bill at the dentist low.
With lots of love,
Dr. Toni is a wife, mother, dentist, and blogger at drtonidds.com. She started out wanting to be an advisor to the president on environmental affairs but later pursued dentistry after seeing how improving her own smile changed they way she felt herself and could potentially change the life of others.
When she is not saving teeth in a private practice setting or in the Navy Reserves, she is watching WWE or playing with Hot Wheels with her two little boys. Dr. Toni loves decorating for holidays and birthday parties with the help of Pinterest. But, finds the most fulfillment in serving others.