Dental hygiene is critical to a body’s overall health - even more so than most people realize. But that doesn’t mean your children are going to respect that when it comes to taking care of their own teeth. Teaching your kids to brush and floss properly and regularly can feel a bit like, well, pulling teeth, but the long-term benefits are invaluable.
The best way to encourage routine and participation for children is to make brushing their teeth a fun task that they look forward to instead of a chore you’re constantly hollering at them to take care of. Look for ways to make the process entertaining, such as buying a toothbrush with a character on it and toothpaste with an appealing flavor. And when it comes down to actually teaching them how to master technique, think like a kid does. Here are some fun ways to teach your kids how to properly brush their teeth and maintain their dental health.
Create a tooth-brushing song
The 2x2 movement, created by moms, is an effort to help parents across the country educate their kids about the proper amount of time to brush your teeth: two minutes, twice a day. However, counting out two minutes can be daunting for a young and impatient child, which means kids are often inclined to shorten that brushing period dramatically.
One great way to help them remember how long two minutes is - and to set themselves a personal timer - is to create a fun tooth-brushing song, approximately two minutes long, that you can sing together in the bathroom as you complete the tooth brushing routine. Take a tune from a popular melody, like Old McDonald or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or create an original melody to develop lyrics for.
You can find tooth-brushing songs online with a Google search - Sesame Street released a popular one that may appeal to your kids - or you can customize your own song for you and your child to memorize and sing together.
Reward good habits with stars
Kids respond very well to positive feedback, so a great way to keep their healthy habits going is to reward them with a home-made chart that gives them a star - or any other small, cute sticker - for every task they perform correctly.
Task charts are popular among teachers, but they can be easily employed at home for completing basic routines like tooth brushing. Make tasks like brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing adequately and cleaning up around the sink rewardable activities in order to encourage the right habits. Come up with a satisfying prize for completing all the tasks correctly in a day or week, such as a visit to a movie or a favorite dinner, in order to provide more motivation to fill in the chart.
Create characters out of the task
Another fun, creative way to teach your kids how to brush their teeth properly is to create tooth-brushing characters to narrate a brief story around their teeth when they’re in the bathroom. You can pretend that the toothpaste, toothbrush, water and floss are all individual superheroes working to give them emergency dental care to battle plaque, bacteria and bad breath, or you can come up with your own narration. But creating characters activates your kids’ imagination, and allows them to take pleasure in entertainment and creativity even as they’re accomplishing a daily task.
Make a story out of the tooth brushing experience that your kid likes hearing about or finds entertaining, and they may look forward to joining you for tooth brushing sessions instead of run away complaining that they don’t want to do it. Kids don’t always understand why they need to complete certain tasks, like cleaning their room or flossing. It’s your job as a parent to get them through the part of their life where they don’t understand, and entertaining them with stories, songs and rewards will encourage them and make dental hygiene seem like a fun activity and bonding time.