Parents know the struggle is real. Kids will say and do just about anything to get out of lots of things, like brushing their teeth.
Being a parent is a balance. It means taking care of them while also allowing them to learn from their mistakes, but it’s important not to let kids slip when it comes to their oral health. In fact, parents should continue to supervise their children’s tooth-brushing process until age 12, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Here are a few things to keep kids engaged and interested:
1. Compliment Them
“Right on, check out those pearly whites!” or “My, what lovely teeth you have to smile with!” Positive reinforcement produces both short-term and long-term benefits as children learn useful habits that will prove beneficial throughout life.
2. Reward Them
Create a sticker chart and give them stars for brushing their teeth twice a day and for flossing once a day. Money may be a powerful motivator when your child gets older, but to a 3-year-old, it is likely meaningless.
Get down on their level so they can see what you are doing. Monkey see, monkey do. Show them how to brush in circles, like train wheels going around on a track from left-to-right and right-to-left.
Consequences almost always include some form of disappointment that could have been prevented—cavities, for example. Preserve their smiles and create healthy habits with them while you can.