I think I’ve written before that I get to bath Darcey on an evening, it’s my favourite part of the day. Part of our bath time routine is brushing her teeth.
Now, this is easily her least favourite part of the whole thing. I don’t know what it is but she really doesn’t like it. She’s clever though. She has tactics to make me forget about the fact that she needs to have her teeth brushed. Her go-to move is to give me cuddles – lots of them! I get big cuddles around my neck, an arm, both arms, really anything that she can. Her bath toys suddenly become the most fun things in the world too! So much so that she NEEDS to play with all of them, together, at the same time.
Being the wiley man that I am, I see past these ploys and counter with some of my own moves! Before I get into what I do, I’m pretty confident that this isn’t a unique situation, so I have some ideas that might help you. It’s important to remember that toddlers don’t realise or recognise the importance of brushing your teeth and you can’t explain it to them either – they won’t understand you when you talk about cavities or teeth falling out, save that for when they’re older. Here are some things to try and make it fun (or at least not traumatising!).
- Make brushing their teeth part of the routine. Like us, try brushing their teeth at the first part of their bath or just before. If you do it later, they might be more tired and irritable (and so might you!)
- Play tooth brushing by letting them brush your teeth, a bath toy’s teeth or maybe you could brush their arms/legs
- Sing! It could be the intro to their favourite programs or a purpose written song (have a look on YouTube). This makes it more fun but is also a distraction.
- Don’t take too long about it!
- Take turns with whose turn it is to have their teeth brushed.
- Use sounds like ‘Ahhh’ for back teeth and ‘Teee’ for front teeth. Throw a roar in there too to get them to open wide!
- Hold them down or force them to brush their teeth. This reinforces the negative feeling towards the activity and will do much more harm than good.
- Get into a power struggle, just stop and try one of the above. If that doesn’t work go back to it later on.
- Give up! It will get easier, just don’t get too frustrated!
For Darcey, the best thing I’ve found is to sing! We brush her teeth at the beginning of each bath and I start by asking if we should brush her teeth. I usually do something to make her laugh and start signing pretty loudly. My choice of songs isn’t what you’d call conventional. We don’t watch TV with her so I don’t know any theme tunes. Darcey normally enjoys (and by Darcey, I mean me) a spot of Bon Jovi, Reel Big Fish and Smash Mouth when she’s having her teeth brushed!
I hope that this might have given you some ideas, happy brushing!