Let’s be honest, parenthood can be a bit of a battleground. Even the most compliant and good-natured cherub can become a source of stress at bedtime when they (and possibly you) are overtired.
Then in the morning, little ones are often too keen to start their day to be bothered with that whole hygiene nonsense.
There are even those children who see toothbrushes as some form of medieval torture, to be resisted and avoided at all costs.
So how do parents encourage good oral hygiene routines in children, and make sure that twice daily teeth brushing is at least bearable?
Fun, fun, fun
The key to the whole process is making it fun.
If the routine of washing their faces and brushing their teeth involves dire warnings of future health catastrophes, you may find that they are largely unconcerned. Their world is the here and now. The best way to get their attention is to make it as pleasurable as possible.
There are a great range of products available these days to add fun to brushing teeth, including character toothbrushes and cleaning products. Other novelty ideas include toothbrush timers that play music, to indicate the required length of time for brushing.
However, making it fun to brush their teeth can be as simple as turning it into a family pastime. Kids love mimicking parents. Crowding around a mirror to compare froth and post-brushing cheesy grins could be all it takes to get their buy-in.
Independence and encouragement
One of the best ways to encourage children to brush their teeth is to give them control over it as early as possible. Think of it this way, would you want someone sticking a plastic brush thing in your mouth and whizzing it around without your permission?
Even tiny hands can help to hold a toothbrush, squeeze out the paste and carry out the necessary movements.
Praise them at every step, and make it sound like they have just done an incredible thing. You may be surprised how quickly they automatically brush their teeth without any nagging if it makes them feel grown up.
Lead by example
You can also build your child’s understanding of how essential this routine is if you make a big show of your own brushing routine and admire your nice clean teeth afterwards.
However, there is another way you need to lead by example.
It’s important that you are consistent in applying the rule that teeth get brushed morning and night. Just because you’re tired and fancy throwing them straight in bed to head for the TV is no excuse. Keep up the routine, and they will learn to independently brush their teeth in their own good time.
Make it easier for little hands
One of the most counterproductive things that can stop a child brushing their teeth is if they struggle to manage or feel they are doing it wrong.
You should seriously consider buying them an electric toothbrush. These take a lot of the manual work out of the process and compensate for some of their lack of dexterity.
Oh, and electric toothbrushes are also more fun. Get the right one to suit their mouth size and abilities, and you could find they actually look forward to brushing their teeth. Remember to check out the best electric toothbrush reviews online to help you decide.