Sometimes children don’t want to brush their teeth. Whether they don’t want to brush because they’re too impatient or they find it annoying, stomach or they don’t like the taste of the toothpaste – or for any other reason – getting them to attend to this important task can present a daily parental challenge. As good oral and dental hygiene is important for children’s health, see parents naturally want to help their kids develop proper habits of routine brushing.
If your child doesn’t want to brush his or her teeth for whatever reason, nurse consider the following tips:
Try using Emotional Coaching
When your child doesn’t want to brush his teeth, you can try using emotional coaching. Emotional coaching is the naming of feelings. If your child finds brushing his teeth to be an annoyance you can say “I know you don’t enjoy brushing your teeth.” If he would rather play instead of brushing his teeth, you can say things like “I know you’d rather be doing something more exciting than brushing your teeth.” Articulate whatever negative feeling he has about brushing his teeth and let him know that you understand his feelings. After all, from a kid’s point of view, how much fun is it to brush one’s teeth? Emotional coaching actually reduces resistance. When a parent shows simple understanding and can even relate to the truth of what the child is saying, then the child is more likely to cooperate. He is not so inclined to battle it out when he can see that his parent is truly sympathetic. Of course, this only works when the parent is truly sympathetic; always try to really understand your child’s feelings from a child’s point of view. Saying empty words has the opposite effect. Children can see when you are patronizing them and this INCREASES resistance rather than decreases it.
Use the CLeaR method
In the CLeaR method, appropriate behavior is reinforced by providing your child 3 kinds of positive attention: a comment about the appropriate behavior, a label that describes the behavior and, in some cases, a reward for the behavior. To encourage more tooth-brushing, a parent might use the CLeaR Method whenever he or she notices that the child has brushed or flossed. It might sound something like this: “I see you brushed you teeth today” (a positive comment), followed by “You’ve got great hygiene!” (‘great hygiene’ being a label that describes someone who brushes his teeth). “And because you remembered to do that, I think tonight would be a good night to have that ice cream we were talking about. I know that you’ll do a good job of brushing them again tonight.” (Offering a reward for desirable behavior).
Use the 2X Rule
If your child refuses to brush his teeth on a routine basis, use the 2X rule. In the 2X rule, you warn your child about the possibility of a negative consequence if there is disobedience. For instance, you can say to a brush-resistant youngster, “You need to brush your teeth before going to sleep.” If the child ‘forgets’ and doesn’t brush before bed, you then say, “From now on, when you don’t remember to brush your teeth before bed, you will have go and brush them when I come to say goodnight and you will miss having your bedtime story.” You can learn more about The 2X-Rule in Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice.
If your child simply doesn’t want to brush his teeth by himself but will brush them with your assistance, then try to encourage independence. One way to do this is to create a reward chart. When your child brushes his teeth by himself, have him place a sticker on the chart. When the chart has X amount of stickers, the child can get a reward. In this way your child can become more comfortable brushing his teeth alone.
Make it Fun and Enjoyable
If your child doesn’t want to brush his teeth because he finds it boring, try implementing these ideas:
- Have races to see how quickly your child can brush his teeth. Show him that it doesn’t actually take that long.
- Get interesting or colorful toothbrushes. If your child likes a particular movie franchise, comic book hero, or other entertainment icon, chances are there will be toothbrushes decorated like one of them available for purchase.
- Get interesting or flavored toothpaste. Just like the entertainment industry has toothbrushes available, toothpaste containers also may be decorated the same way. Additionally, toothpastes of all kinds of flavors and colors exist today. Check your local shopping mart to see what they have available.
- Talk to your child while he’s brushing (quality time).
Consider Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can help improve a child’s behavior. The flower remedy Vine can help strong-willed and defiant children who refuse to brush their teeth. For negative kids who complain about everything you can use the remedy Beech. You can mix several remedies together in one treatment bottle. To do so, you fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle with water (a mixing bottle is an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold in health food stores along with Bach Flower Remedies). Next, add two drops of each remedy that you want to use. Finally, add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use. Give your child 4 drops of the mixture in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, etc.) four times a day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue this treatment until behavior shows improvement. Start treatment again, if the behavior worsens. Eventually, the behavior changes should become permanent.