My son Donnie has reached that stage where he has to have everything exactly his way or it doesn't happen at all. Either that or a HUGE tantrum will ensue.
One of our recent battles is something that I'm quite sure many parents and moms go through.
It's the battle to get those precious little toddler teeth cleaned and brushed properly!
This is something I previously thought we had figured out, but the battle quickly re-appeared after the “terrible twos” began.
Oh the joys of life with a toddler!
With the help of my sister (who's a dental hygienist), brushing teeth is fun again!
There are so many ways to help encourage a toddler to cooperate with brushing their teeth but unfortunately it's often a very individual thing. What works for one kid might not work for another but when you find what works, it's like magic!
Have you read other sites that recommend turning brushing teeth into a game?
I also read some of those articles and honestly, I kind of scoffed at the idea. Not because I thought it was ridiculous or that it was a bad idea, but because I was exhausted and completely frustrated after trying so many methods.
Now every time it's tooth brushing time we make it into a game and it really works!
Here's how I make brushing teeth fun for my toddler:
I take a quick look in my sons mouth and say something like the following with lots of excitement:
“Oh my goodness! I just saw a cavity bug (or sugar bug) jump on your teeth! Let's go brush your teeth so we can catch him!”
The key is to try and excite them about catching and capturing the “cavity bug” rather than scare them of course.
To show them how you catch your “cavity bugs” take a look in the mirror and say you just saw a cavity bug and that you need to fight it and make them a part of it. (Ask them if they see the “cavity bugs” on your teeth and tell them you need their help to find them and capture them in your brush, etc)
Once you've gotten your toddler to open their mouth, take their favorite toothbrush (with kids toothpaste) and begin fighting/catching the cavity bugs.
As you go about brushing your childs teeth, keep it interactive by telling them that you see the cavity bug jumping from tooth to tooth and that you're getting them.
“I can see it jumping around! (while brushing) I've almost got it! (keep brushing) I got it!”
This might sound funny but try to make it real. You don't have to be an award winning actor though! lol
Just improvise what you say and make a big deal about how good they are doing with the fight against the cavity bugs.
My son LOVES to hear me talk about chasing them around in his mouth and making his teeth safe and happy.
Once I've brushed my sons teeth for long enough (they recommend about 2 minutes but sometimes you can only get so far), I continue the excitement by saying something like;
“Let's check one last time to see if we got all the cavity bugs.
Yay! We got them all! You have happy teeth now!”
Clap and cheer for them. Seriously, do it!
Make it a big deal and show how happy you are that they helped you get all the “cavity bugs”!
You can even encourage them to go show other family members how clean their teeth are now and that the cavity bugs are gone. My son is so proud when he shows off his clean teeth!
Since we've started this as a habit he looks forward to brushing his teeth. When it's just about bed time he will willingly run to the bathroom so we can start the “cavity bug” battle!
You may have also noticed that this involves the parent or mom doing the brushing. This is because most kids will need a little (or a lot) of help brushing their teeth. My sister Jill (yup, the dental hygienist), says that most kids actually will need this kind of help up to age 9 or so! I was surprised to hear that myself!
Keep in mind that the amount of help with brushing will depend on the child so you should ask your dentist what they think is right for your child.
Don't be discouraged though if your child wants to do it themself! This is a good thing. Just make sure that you do a little inspection and get the spots they missed when they're done. 🙂
I'm really hoping that my son Donnie will continue to enjoy this little teeth brushing activity for a while. We've been doing this for a little over a month and so far so good!
Do you have any tips or ideas on how to encourage a toddler to cooperate with brushing their teeth?
I'd love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below! 🙂