Getting a toddler to do anything can be a challenge, especially when it comes to taking care of their teeth. However, no matter how much resistance you receive, ensuring that your child's oral health is in great condition is your responsibility. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get your child excited and eager about taking care of their oral care needs.
Get them Involved
Get your little one involved in their oral hygiene care. When shopping for a new toothbrush or toothpaste, allow your child to select which child-friendly options they want. If you allow your child to make these decisions, they will likely be so eager to use their new toothbrush or toothpaste that brushing their teeth will an exciting event.
The more involved you make your child feel, the more control they will feel. During the toddler years, children begin to fight for independence. Allowing your child to feel like they are making their own decisions will make them less resistant.
Be an Example
Children learn by example, especially during the early years. From brushing and flossing to visiting the dentist for regular check-ups, if your child sees you following these practices they will recognize them as important. Ask your dental office if you can bring your child along with you to one of your appointments to observe.
This can show your child that taking care of your oral health is important for everyone, even parents. You could also consider making nighttime brushing a family event. Let the entire family gather in the bathroom and brush their teeth together. The point is, if your child sees it's important to you, they will also follow suit.
Create a Reward System
When you first begin speaking with your toddler about brushing and flossing, it will be a challenge. However, creating a system where your child will be rewarded for these practices can help. Consider setting up a system where your child gets a point or a star each time they brush and floss.
They can eventually use their points for a reward like an extra story at bedtime or extra play time at the park. When your child knows they'll be rewarded they will be eager to comply. Eventually, as your child gets older you should be able to do away with the reward system.
Persistence is key. The more you work with your child to stress the importance of good oral hygiene, the more it becomes a habit for the child. Don't get discouraged, your hard work will soon pay off. (For more questions about pediatric dentistry, contact Russell Pollina, DDS)
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