It’s funny, but making my kids brush their teeth all the time can sometimes exhaust the heck out of me. I’m serious! I was told beforehand that it’s common for boys not to be so eager to wash up and brush their teeth, but I dismissed it then thinking it can’t be true, only to find out years later that it is true — for us, at least!
I guess it’s because active boys find tooth brushing boring and uneventful, when they feel that they could be doing something much more exciting with their time, like drive me crazy with their antics, climbing the most impossible heights or making a huge mess in the house.
Our youngest child, Judah, gives us the biggest challenge of all when it comes to this. Unlike his brothers who clammed their mouths when they didn’t want me to brush their teeth when they were young, Judah demands that we justify why he needs to brush three times a day, haha!
I’m not a fan of goofing around and pretend play when teaching kids about oral hygiene (e.g. The toothbrush airplane). It’s effective, but it’s not sustainable in the long run. But I do know that to make kids take it seriously, fun must be an element.
Because we have two older kids, we’ve had a bit of practice on balancing responsibility with fun. Here’s what we do:
1. We let them brush their own teeth
It’s basic and simple, but you’d be surprised at how many parents refuse to let their children brush their own teeth because they’re afraid that their kids won’t be able to do it properly and develop gum problems later on.
A valid reason, I suppose, but kids love taking responsibility, even when this responsibility only means brushing teeth, haha! Judah loves brushing his teeth. We just make sure that he knows the routine — squeeze, brush and rinse. He thinks it’s fun to do it on his own, so we let him.
Even as babies, we let our kids hold their own toothbrushes and put them in their mouths. I read somewhere that it helps familiarize with the feeling of bristles against their mouths and learn to be comfortable with them.
What I do is that I wait for them to think they’re done, then I get their toothbrushes and brush their teeth some more just to be sure. (wink!)
2. We buy them kiddie toothbrushes with attractive designs
I make it a point to get my kids toothbrushes with their favorite characters in the design. It works all the time! My kids are excited for tooth brush time every time we buy them new toothbrushes.
Judah takes the excitement to a whole new level. When his new minions toothbrush and Colgate toothpaste arrived, he couldn’t wait for toothbrush time.
In fact, he would sneak into the bathroom at different times during the day to grab his toothbrush and toothpaste, and would brush his teeth until we discover what he’s doing in there, hahaha!
There are two types of Colgate Minion toothbrushes. There’s the Junior Oral Care that’s good for kids 2-5 years old, and the Youth Oral care for kids 5-9 years old.
What we have is still the Junior Oral Care which works well, but since our little man just turned 6 a few months ago, methinks the Youth Oral care is the better match for our kiddo.
3. We let them eat sweets!
Because taking care of your teeth isn’t fun if you can’t use those chompers for yum stuff. As my kids ask, what’s the point of brushing teeth if they can’t be good for anything, mom???? I say they have a point.
Regulating their sweets intake is only fair, so that’s what we do. Then we use this as an opportunity to remind them to brush their teeth afterwards.
Of course they’re more excited about eating their treats, but it makes it easier to get them to grab their toothbrushes. In their minds, it’s a good and impartial compromise hahaha!
No tricks, just fun in the good old-fashioned hygiene!
So as you see, we don’t resort to tricks we can’t sustain when it comes to our kids’ hygiene. When you have kids, you realize that they can find fun in the practical things in life, you just need to identify them and exploit them.
How do you make brushing fun for your family? I’d love to know! I’m open to new ideas so share away in the comments section.