Toddler life brings with it a whole set of joys, tantrums and developmental stages. When it comes to establishing a good toothbrushing routine, you may experience all the highs and lows that come with trying to convince your little one that a bristly stick will help them grow. We had lots of fun with the kids when they were toddlers as they didn’t get the importance like we thought we would, Isla was a little cheeky madam too! If you need some tips on how to get your toddler to brush teeth then read on…
Everything you experience as a child impacts how well you navigate everything from your social skills to developing hygiene skills as you progress into adulthood. So teaching your child early on about the importance of toothbrushing starts with you at home.
Here are 6 ways to convince your toddler to brush their teeth to set them up for life:
- Get involved
Nothing is more encouraging than letting your toddler get in on the action. If you’re struggling to brush their teeth, then let them try it for themselves. That way, they will feel more confident and comfortable with how the brush feels in their own hands, as well as get used to the brush being in their mouth.
Although it isn’t recommended that you leave your child to brush their teeth solo until they are at least 7 or 8 years old, it’s more about the process itself. What’s more, you can show them how its done.
Children love to imitate their parents and siblings. It’s where they learn the most. So show them how to brush their teeth by mirroring you. From there, they can even try and brush your teeth or their favourite stuffed animal. The more they practice and enjoy themselves, the more willing they will to get involved.
- It’s all about routine
Children thrive off of routines. From the moment they wake up, go to nursery or school and then go to sleep, they know what to expect from their day.
Including brushing as part of their morning and before bedtime routine, will help your toddler to feel more secure. Alongside this, if brushing is normalised early on, there will be less space for disagreements further down the road.
Although routines are not a one size fits all kind of deal, there are some basics you may want to include, such as:
- First nappy change of the day or toilet
- Have a wash and change into the days clothes
- Brush teeth for two minutes
- Prepare for the day and go
- Relaxation time – could include TV, reading, colouring, playtime
- Brush teeth for two minutes – this could be included as part of bathtime too
- Pyjamas, storytime and cuddles
- Sing a song
There’s a reason why the classic nursery time has stood the test of time. Everything from Humpty Dumpty to Twinkle, Twinkle are not only catchy tunes, but they teach your child the fundamentals of language and encourage their speech development.
Singing a song during brushing time will not only encourage your toddler to clean their teeth, but it will make the whole process more enjoyable and memorable for both of you.
Not only will singing a song get the job done more efficiently, but you can time it perfectly so that they are getting their full two minutes brushing time. That way, they can get used to the recommended amount of brushing time that will help them to develop their basic hygiene skills for life.
- The power of choice
One of the best ways to convince your toddler to brush their teeth is to lean into the masterful marketing that the dental industry have established so well in recent years. Everything from Paw Patrol to PJ Masks, unicorns to pirates have all found their way into a toothbrush collection.
With additional flashing lights, timers and even electric options, toothbrushes for kids have never been more exciting. So next time you wonder into your local pharmacy, supermarket or search online, show your toddler a few of the options available. By letting them have a say in their toothbrush, your toddler is more likely to take ownership over their choice.
- Lead by example
Do you know who your toddlers favourite hero is in all the world? In most cases, it’s you. You’re their caregiver, provider of fun, food and play, and you are consistent in their life. They can depend on you, even if they can’t quite grasp the full concept of what that means. Everything your toddler learns in their first years of life comes directly from you. So use it to your advantage.
Children learn most of their life skills from modelling behaviour from their parents. Allowing them to see how you brush their teeth, and even brushing yout teeth at the same time, will give you both a positive boost. Toothbrushing will then become a shared activity, where you can learn more about eachother.
Whether you sit them infront of you, or find a way for them to watch you in the mirror, imitation is more than just flattery when it comes to raising a child!
- Stickers, stickers, stickers
To a toddler, stickers are a magical thing. Not only do they signify that they have done something well, but they are being recognised for all their hard work too.
Creating a sticker chart for your toddler is an incredible motivational tool. The more stickers they get, the more they can see they are achieving. What’s more, their hero is the one giving out all the rewards!
To make it more fun, you can take it a step further by creating a pom pom jar. If they get so readh a certain amount by the end of the week, they can have a treat. You can also count them all up together to encourage their counting skills.
However you visually present your toddlers reward chart or jar, make sure that you make your expectations clear. Whether that’s writing down what they need to achieve such as “toothbrushing,” “good listening” or “used the potty/toilet,” or you need 20 stickers by the end of the week to get ice cream, make sure you both understand the boundaries.
Parenting comes with its own unique set of challenges. Convincing your toddler to brush their teeth doesn’t have to be one of them! Here are some tips that I use and still use now the kids are grown up.