You probably are already aware of this, but children are mirrors of their parents. They reflect the gestures, language, and interests of the adults in their lives. For example, they will emulate how their father drives or how their mother multi-tasks.
And you can take advantage of this when trying to teach the proper tenets of dental care to your children from an early age, especially if you are having a hard time getting your child to floss their teeth or brush twice a day.
Read on for some tips on how to build strong dental habits in your children from when they are a toddler.
Monkey See Monkey Do
As iterated earlier, your children are going to copy what you do, so start using that to teach them about oral health. If you are brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing twice a day, then they will notice that (sponge-like as they are), and they will start building this habit as well.
The adage, “don’t do as I do, but do as I say,” doesn’t work here. If you are telling your children they need to brush twice a day and floss their teeth, but you aren’t doing it yourself, it’s going to fall on deaf ears as your children will end up ignoring everything you say.
Make Flossing and Brushing Fun
Not only do you need to start flossing and brushing with them twice a day, but you need to show them how much fun flossing and brushing can be. It isn’t just a torture device created to annoy parents and children everywhere.
Buy fun toothbrushes for your children that play music or make sounds, or buy delicious minty flosses for them that they can use happily, and that their tastebuds can love.
Sing and do a fun dance as you brush your teeth together as a family. It’s all about creating that feeling in your child that brushing and flossing isn’t a humdrum activity, but playful and humor-filled.
Also, the more you laugh together as a family, the stronger your bonds will grow, and that’s something you can’t put a price on.
Gamify Their Experience
The reward system – what parent hasn’t used this to their benefit in their parenting life? You can use the gamification of brushing and flossing to entice your children to stay on top of their oral health.
Build a reward system where you give them a treat or take them to a place of their choice if they manage to brush and floss their teeth every day for a month. Come up with your gamification strategies – be creative with this.
You know your children love playing games of all kinds. Why not make flossing and brushing their teeth a game as well? Fill it with rewards they would actually be interested in.
Don’t Let Them Skip Even a Single Day
Building a habit takes time (some say 28 days, others say 60), and is a fragile thing from the get-go. If you allow your children to miss days here and there, you are sending them a signal that oral health isn’t as important as you say it is. Also, they might build a habit, only to break it a few weeks in, because you let them skip a day or god forbid, a week.
You can only make them understand the importance of proper dental care, by making it a priority in their minds, and schedules. They do not get to go to sleep if they haven’t brushed their teeth. It’s a tough rule, but it’s something you need to enforce, to ensure they don’t end up with cavities, gingivitis, and missing teeth in their teen years or later.
Play the Toothbrushing Game
Sesame Street offers a free toothbrushing game that you can play with your children to help encourage them to build positive dental habits. If your child is spending way too much time on their iPad or other mobile devices anyways, why not use this to your advantage?
Have the smart device at hand, and let them brush their teeth with their favorite Sesame Street characters, thus, invoking a feeling of joy, fun, and camaraderie in the process.
Read Books on Children’s Toothbrushing to Them
There are dozens and dozens of books on children’s toothbrushing out there, and you can take advantage of them, to teach your children how to perform proper dental care. It might seem like you are going over and beyond here, but the habits you establish in their childhood will have far-reaching impacts late into their adult life.
Think of how pearly white and healthy their teeth will look even when they are in their late 40s, and use that as motivation to read books on toothbrushing with your young ones.
Take Them to a Dentist as Soon as They Turn 5
Another thing you can do to ensure your child has good teeth and dental habits is to take them to a dentist as soon as they turn 5 or 6, and have a dentist show them how to brush and floss their teeth properly.
A dentist, in her white coat, can act as a bigger authority than you, and you can use that to convince them of the importance of proper dental care.
Proper Dental Care Isn’t Something to Grin About (Or Is It?)
Are you worried about your child’s oral health and want to do something positive and impactful for it? Start using the tips above, incorporating them bit-by-bit into your daily routine.
You can’t change your child’s habits instantly. But over time, you will see oral health in your entire family improve astronomically.
If you are searching for a family dentist in Indianapolis, contact Southeast Family Dental and get them taking care of your entire family’s dental health asap. They do regular dental care (checkups, etc.) as well as preventative treatment and restorative care.