Frustrated parents often ask us this question, “How do I get my kid to brush their teeth?”
Being a part of the dental world as well as a father of 4, we understand where they are coming from. Between mealtimes, bathtime, sports, and other commitments, there are times we even ask ourselves, how DO I get my kids to brush their teeth at home!? Each child is unique and will respond differently to our requests.
Below are three easy tips we’ve seen work for a variety of children. I recommend trying the one that you think will work best, and give your child time to respond. Building habits take time, and it may take a few days or even a few weeks for children to learn to brush their teeth consistently.
3 Ways To Get Your Kid to Brush Their Teeth
- Set an example. One great piece of advice we can give is to model brushing your teeth in front of your kids. Show them what you do to remember to brush twice a day, and that it can be fun! Spend time brushing your teeth together, remembering to brush each surface of every tooth. You can make it into a game, pretending to be the reflection in the mirror or listening to your favorite song. This is one of the simplest ways to get kids to brush their teeth.
- Make a chart. It doesn’t have to be perfect, even a simple sheet of paper with boxes drawn on it, and their name across the top, can be a powerful incentive for a child. Depending on the child, 5-10 days are usually enough to start forming a habit. You can mark off the boxes with a smiley face, stickers, or let them mark their own boxes with their initials or favorite shape. Before starting, decide what they will earn once the chart is filled. Is it getting a milkshake or Slurpee? A book or toy? A self-chosen and well-earned prize can be a powerful incentive to start a new habit!
- Make a note. A little visual reminder can go a long way! Another idea to help remind is placing notes around the bathroom or bedroom. This works for kids of all ages. Sticky notes or a sheet of paper can work great, or you can even try buying neon Expo markers and drawing right on the mirror to catch their attention. If your child is too young to read, draw a toothbrush or smiling face with teeth!
- There’s also an App for that. Check out our article covering the very best apps to engage children in brushing their teeth. From simple apps like music timers to more elaborate apps that show animated characters and give stars and rewards as they brush, you might find the perfect fit for your family. If you have multiple children, they can take turns clicking through the app.
I hope these ideas help the next time you find yourself asking “how do I get my kids to brush their teeth?!” We love learning new ways to motivate and inspire kids to learn healthy habits and sharing them with our patients and parents. If you have found other ways to help kids brush their teeth, we would love to hear about it!