Certain stages of parenting are infamous… from the “terrible twos” to the moody teen years. But regardless of the age or stage of your children, most parents sharethis battle: Motivating kids to care for their teeth and gums.
So, what’s a caring, responsible parent to do, especially when lectures about the importance of dental health, avoiding cavities, and having a beautiful smile tend to fall on deaf ears… especially those belonging to pre-school through elementary school-age children?
Make it fun, of course!
To help, here are six fun dental activities for kids:
- Have your child pick his or her own toothbrush and toothpaste. Luckily, there are lots of fun, cute, and even kid-friendly options available. Children can choose a favorite character or color. Just make sure that the brush’s bristles are soft, and your toothpaste is dentist-approved. Pastes now come in avariety of tasty choices to help combat the “yuck” factor (watermelon, anyone?).
- Again, with your child’s help, choose a fun timer to keep near the bathroom sink. Two-to-three minutes, twice a day, is best practice, so let him or her see what that looks and feels like. Extra fun: Brushing with you. Kids love to beat their parents at anything. See who can brush the longest!
- Put charts in bathroom. Kids enjoy putting stickers on charts, so after each successful brushing, let yours add one to a grid. Once a grid is filled (we recommend one per week), you can surprise him or her with a hand stamp, a balloon, a coloring book page, or, when it’s time (every three to four months), a new toothbrush.
- Have them teach a “friend” to brush. Children love to feel empowered, so they will enjoy teaching brushing and flossing basics to “someone else” – a favorite bear or doll. You’re sure to be impressed with how much your child knows and can convey, and this character can become his or her brushing buddy (and maybe even “live” in the bathroom).
- Do the tooth jam! Download favorite songs and play them for two-to-three minutes during the brushing. Music makes everything more fun, right? (Note: If you’d like, there are lots of fun smart phone apps that you can download. Many play timed music and provide a “count down” brushing period.)
- Flossing can be tough to master. Let’s face it; even some adults struggle. A great way to practice is with big legos, play-doh, and string. Have the children floss the clay from out between the lego “teeth” with string or yarn, and then they can practice on themselves.
There are lots of other activities and, of course, wonderful books about going to the dentist, brushing your teeth, etc., for children. So visit your library or bookstore and you’ll be able to reinforce important messages with wonderful stories and illustrations.
How are you enforcing good dental hygiene with your kids this month? Let us know in your comments below!