My son recently made me realize that I talk things up to be “fun” a lot. To redirect him from trying to harm his sister or having a meltdown, I’ll say something like “Oh, wanna do something fun!?” and then we go to another activity. Now, when I give him random directions like… “Get your shoes on, we’re going outside to check the water tank,” he’ll look up at me while shoving his feet in and ask “Will it be fun?!” (And of course, I have to lie and say yes.)
I have to try and make the mundane fun for my littles when they’re grumpy. But usually they’re making their own fun. Anything can be made fun for a toddler or preschooler, even the “boring” hygiene activities. Luckily, my crazy kids love tooth-brushing but if yours don’t….
Here are 5 tips on making brushing fun for preschoolers and toddlers:
Start as early as possible
Getting young babies comfortable with having their gums and teeth cleaned as they start to sprout makes it easier to continue the habit going forward. There are great gum brushers to help clean infants’ gums. You just pop ‘em on your finger and swipe the baby’s gums, easy peasy. Ro loved his little gum massages, but Kaya couldn’t stand them. Another mom told me to brush her gums to the beat while singing her favorite song… and it worked. She wouldn’t fuss or turn away!
Choose the right dentist
A good dentist can make or break your little one’s feelings about brushing twice a day. Choose one who makes the dental appointment experience fun, and is great at relating to and creating rapport with your kids. A gentle and kind dentist is great partner in keeping your kid’s teeth healthy. No dental insurance? Check out Florida KidCare. They offer Florida families affordable medical AND dental coverage for children. Learn more here!
Have “special” tools and products
Anything special is more fun. Rohan has his special toothpaste that he insists on holding onto while brushing his teeth with his other hand. Having the special ‘gear’ for them makes it more fun and exciting to brush their teeth. I’m happy they enjoy it. You can also have a special song or dance to go along with tooth-brushing to help make it fun. For us, we do the brushing of teeth in my bathroom instead of theirs. The double sink lets both kids brush at the same time with no elbowing or whining.
Play games / competitions
Using apps is a great way to help kids enjoy brushing their teeth. There are a wide variety that help with everything from brushing for at least 2 minutes, to ensuring every tooth is reached. I also have my two race to brush all their teeth. Whoever finishes first, gets a “super speed” brushing from mommy. A fun win for them, and sneaky quality control for me! You can also twist around games, like “red light green light” or “Simon says” to make them work for teeth brushing. And a good old fashioned egg timer (or timer on your phone) can add a fun element to “beat the clock” when brushing.
As you know, I’m totally down with bribing kids, but a blogging friend of mine said “you’re not bribing, you’re incentivizing!” (I like that!) so if your preschoolers struggle with tooth-brushing, incentivize them with something fun. Several moms swear by sticker charts for treats. There’s nothing better than “if you brush your teeth you can ____,” incentive to make brushing more fun!