Being a parent is difficult work
Getting kids to do what’s best for them is a struggle. This holds true for teaching them good dental habits.
- Brush and floss together. Our lives are more rushed than ever. This leads to fewer moments of connecting with our children. Those bonding experiences are special no matter what the circumstances are, but they can also serve is valuable teaching opportunities. Our kids naturally look up to us and sometimes even emulate us. Since they will likely see brushing and flossing as a hassle, if you make it a pleasant bonding experience, they will be more likely to follow your lead.
- Chart their path to success. Visual tools are great for kids and adults alike. Set up a chart that tracks your child’s dental care habits. It will help them visualize their achievements and instill a desire to want to keep it up.
- Make it a rewarding experience. You don’t want to feel like you have to bribe your child to do what they are supposed to do, but there are certain situations where a reward is an entirely appropriate incentive. This can work in tandem with the chart. Mark reward dates on the chart where if they do their teeth brushing and flossing each day, they can get a prize.
- Create a story line. Kids can’t relate to bacteria and plaque, so speak in terms they do relate to. For instance, you might refer to them as “sugar bugs” or if your child might be sensitive to that idea, come up with another playful name for the germs they need to get rid of. Make it a game of “good vs evil” and the tooth brush and floss are their tools to defeat the “bad guys.”
- Make it a party. Maybe this isn’t practical every day, but you might consider playing their favorite music while they are brushing and flossing — maybe just on the weekends. It can help them get into the process and have fun while they do it.
It will take time to develop good habits. Your dentist may even recommend taking a hands-on approach to your child’s brushing and flossing… even as they get a little older. While you don’t want to teach them to be totally dependent on you, it’s much better than the prospects of early dental problems. Gradually give them independence when they show they are committed to getting the job done.