Teacher | Blogger | Mom
Getting your kids to take care of their teeth can feel like one of the most difficult parenting battles you fight each day. Dental care is often expensive, time-consuming, and scary for kids, and as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment. Everything from regular dentist visits to watching what your kids eat can contribute to their oral health, so here are some tips and tricks to help your kids build good habits and take the stress out of caring for your kids’ teeth.
Good Food Choices
It’s every parent’s greatest task to make sure their kids are healthy, and one of the most fundamental pieces of health is nutrition. Making healthy food choices is important not only to dental health, but to all forms of wellbeing. When they eat at home, you have more control over what they’re having but when they’re out at school, friends houses, and birthday parties, temptation can be hard to resist if they know you’re not watching. Before they leave the house, talk with them casually about their day and what they’ll be doing. Offer to send a snack with them in case they get hungry, and if they say they’ll have a snack where they’re going, ask them what they might be eating.
When it comes time to making the decision later, they’ll remember you talked about it and be more inclined to choose something they think you’ll be proud of. You can’t be there for every single thing they eat, but the knowledge that you’re paying attention goes a long way in helping them learn to make good decisions on their own.
Make Brushing Fun
Allowing kids to pick out their own toothbrushes and toothpaste flavors is a great first step to getting them excited about brushing. To help them brush for the right amount of time, pick a song they like and play it while they brush. Pick a point about two minutes in where they can switch to flossing, and the time will fly by before they know it. If they’re not particularly musical, pick a page from a book they like and read for two minutes to distract them from brushing and reduce complaining.
Teach Kids Why It’s Important
It can be hard to explain exactly why kids should take care of their teeth without turning to threats of painful dentist visits, but there are little things you can do everyday to remind them how their actions affect their health. One of the best gifts you can give is a good understanding of how kids can care for their teeth. Whenever they drink juice or soda, mention that they’ll have to brush especially well that night to make sure their teeth are healthy. If they make a healthy food choice, or brush without having to be reminded, gentle reminders that they’re helping their teeth be healthy and strong go a long way. Even if little ones don’t understand exactly how, the reinforcement will stick and before you know it, they’ll be choosing healthy habits without being asked.
Set Up a Reward System
It’s can be tricky to convince your kids that all the effort is worthwhile, even if they understand that it’s for their health. If you’re struggling to get them in a routine of good dental care, you can set up a reward system so they can work towards a goal of their own while building good habits. Draw up a chart to hang on the bathroom wall with a box for morning and night each day of the week, and have your kids pick something they want in exchange, like another hour of TV time, or a trip to their favorite park or to see a movie. Not only will this make your kids more motivated to brush, it will take away the stress of convincing them to do it every single day. If they’re working towards something they really want, they’ll be eager to keep up the habit!
When kids build good habits early, you can rest assured that they’ll be able to make good choices on their own, and reduce the likelihood that they’ll need more expensive, time-consuming dental care later in life.
About Jane Sandwood
Jane always wanted to be a teacher as a child, and after graduating college went straight into primary education where she worked for a decade before taking time off to start her own family. She now campaigns against child abuse and domestic violence while working as a freelance writer and editor.