It is very normal that children don’t like to have their teeth brushed. In many families the daily brushing routine has turned into a fight, which all to often is won by the child. Here is some advice that will increase your odds for winning the brushing fight once and for all:
Choose the right toothbrush
Buy the toothbrush together with your child. There are many funny and interesting designs. While some children hate electric toothbrushes, others love them. Some electric toothbrushes even play a little melody while you are brushing. Whatever your child chooses, he or she might be more willing to accept a brushing with a tool of his or her own choice.
Choose the right time
Don’t wait with the brushing routine untill your child is tired or even exhausted. Very few children will be cooperative in this condition. Try instead to schedule the brushing at a time when your child is relaxed and in a good mood.
Choose the right place
You don’t necessarily have to brush your child’s teeth in the bathroom. If your child is more relaxed or comfortable in another room, try and do the brushing routine in there. If you already have a routine of reading a bedtime story, you might be able to add the toothbrushing to this routine and do it at the same place.
Let your child practice brushing
For a very young child it can especially be a good idea to allow the child to use a toothbrush by him- or herself. A toothbrush can be very soothing to bite on if the gums are itching from teething. In this way your child can also get used to the feeling of a toothbrush in the mouth.
Before brushing your child’s teeth, it might also be an idea to allow your child to brush teeth on a teddy bear or a doll or even on you.
Don’t expect perfection – but be systematic
Accept that you won’t always be able to brush perfectly in the beginning. When your child starts to accept the routine, you can gradually do it more and more thoroughly. Make sure that you at least within the same day are able to brush all areas of your child’s mouth. For example, if you are only able to brush the right side in the morning, you can make sure to brush the left side in the evening.
Stop while the game is good
Try and sense when your child is about to have had enough of the brushing and stop just before that. If you force your child too much, he or she might be very unwilling the next time. If you respect your child’s limits, you will probably be able to push these limits little by little.
Motivate – don’t force!
Do NOT use power or even violence for example by forcing your child’s mouth open or holding him or her down. Use motivation instead and remember to praise and reward your child, when the brushing has gone well.