Getting the cooperation of a toddler during nightly tooth brushing time isn't easy. Many toddlers respond by locking their mouths, shaking their heads, crying or just plain refusing to cooperate. The following tactics can be used to cajole a toddler into cooperation during nightly tooth brushing time.
Let Them "Help"
Toddlers love to do it themselves, and having your toddler "help" during tooth brushing time is a good way to introduce him or her to the concept of proper dental hygiene. During tooth brushing time, have your toddler hold the tube of tooth paste in one hand. In the other hand, allow your toddler to put his or her hand around the handle of the toothbrush. Use your hand to guide the toothbrush, but allow your toddler to "assist."
Your toddler may need some coaching in this area, because many young children won't understand that they must hold the toothbrush gently. Some toddlers may try to take control of the toothbrush during the process. If your toddler gets too rough or disruptive to the process, simply remove the toothbrush, say "gentle," or "we'll do this together," in a soothing voice, and then try the process again.
Show a Video
If you have a smart phone with Internet access, or a television near your bathroom, give you toddler a little bit of screen time during tooth brushing time. Allow your child to watch a few minutes of kid-friendly programming, or a video featuring one of your toddler's favorite songs or performers. This is an especially effective tactic for a toddler who gets little or no screen time, because it makes tooth brushing time seem unique and interesting.
Show Your Toddler that You Brush Too
Many toddlers like to do what their parents do. Have tooth brushing time of your own during a time when your toddler can watch you. Brush your teeth and make reassuring statements to your toddler about how you like tooth brushing time. Let your toddler watch the entire process, and maybe offer for your toddler to help with your tooth brushing. This will help renew your toddler's interest in tooth brushing and may give your toddler an understanding of expectations during nightly teeth cleaning.
Every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another child. If you're still having trouble getting your toddler to cooperate during toothbrushing time, talk to your dentist, like Tony Parsley, DMD, during the next dentist appointment. He or she may be able to give suggestions that will help.