When it comes to bedtime battles, getting your kids to brush their teeth can be one of the toughest. Those tiny negotiators will come up with any excuse they can think of, from “That toothpaste tastes gross!” to “I’m sooooooooo tired!”
Of course, you know their efforts are futile – they have to brush them eventually – but kids have an uncanny ability to turn a pea-sized drop of toothpaste into a pandemic-sized tantrum. True, the occasional fight is probably unavoidable, but here are 5 ways to (mostly) keep them from sidelining the nightly routine.
1. Get Better Brushes
Toothbrushes now come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors, and some are even branded with your kid’s favorite TV character. So while the freebie from the dentist would certainly get the job done, give your kids something to look forward to by splurging for the one that sings or bends or glows.
2. Set a Timer
Two minutes – the amount of brushing time recommended by the American Dental Association – will seem like an eternity to most children, but turning it into a countdown can be fun. Set a timer and start small, 30 seconds or so, and work your way up. There are also great apps like this one from Oral B. When it hits zero, make sure there’s lots of cheering and clapping and high-fiving.
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3. Give in to the Distractions
Brushing your teeth doesn’t take a ton of focus, so let them listen to music or watch a short video on your tablet or phone while they brush. It’ll help pass the time and help avoid those “Am I done yet?” questions.
4. Do it Together
Especially when they first start learning to brush on their own, stand next to them and talk them through how to do it. “Circular motions,” you’ll say. Then, “I like to start at the back and work my way around.” Finally, “Now say ‘eeeeeeeeee’ so we can get those front teeth.” Let them follow your instructions, and then have them be the leader and teach you how to brush your teeth.
5. Keep Track
Sticker charts tracking how many days in a row they brush without being asked (or, let’s be honest, without having to be asked 10 times) can help keep them motivated. You can work out a prize if you want, or just celebrate the clean bill of health at the dentist next time they go!
Children may not understand the importance of a healthy dental routine, but they do understand fun. With this entertaining bag of tricks, they’ll have clean teeth and healthy habits to last a lifetime.
What are some of your favorite negotiation tactics with your little ones? Let us know in the comments below!