At ages five and six, my kids are both at such great ages. One of my favorite things about five and six is their emerging independence. No longer do I have to buckle their car seats, dress them, or brush their teeth for them. It’s glorious!
Of course, their independence has been emerging for several years. When both of my kids were about three years old, they started demanding to brush their own teeth, with their toddler tyrant ways.
“No, I do it myself!” they declared.
My husband and I always encouraged our children to brush their own teeth, but at three they couldn’t really be trusted actually do a good job of getting those pearly whites sparkling clean! As a compromise, we let them brush their teeth in their three year old way, then we got a turn at teeth brushing. We called it the “double check.”
We started off by encouraging the kids to get rid of those “sugar bugs” on their teeth. Making it a game and a positive experience, got the kids excited about brushing their teeth initially. Our dentist recommended using a soft bristled toothbrush, so every few months, we have made a big deal about choosing a new toothbrush with favorite characters. Also, teeth brushing and sugar bug battles have been a part of our morning and bedtime routine since they were toddlers.
As they’ve gotten older, we’ve helped them become independent teeth brushers with a few simple instructions.
1. As the kids brush their teeth, we wanted to make sure they were brushing long enough. At first my husband and I would sing silly songs like “Happy Birthday” and the ABC song and tell them they can’t stop brushing until we quit singing. Now we’ll set a timer to help them keep brushing for two minutes.
2. To help them do a good job of removing those sugar bugs on their teeth, we’ve taught the kids a little reminder song that we’ve named, “Top, Bottom, Front, and Back.” It goes like this: top, bottom, front and back, front and back. Top, bottom, front and back. Now my teeth are clean. Catchy, huh?!
3. We’ve introduced flossing and rinsing. Flossing hasn’t been the battle I thought it would be, but probably because my husband and I initially flossed our own teeth alongside the kids. The kids beg to use the Listerine Smart Rinse every night, with their swish, swish, swish, spit routine. Next up on our teaching agenda is to figure out a way to make the spitting portion a little less messy!
According to many of our friends, we are lucky to have kids who don’t really mind brushing their teeth. For the more hesitant teeth brushers, pretending to brush a favorite stuffed animals teeth or reward charts can be used to help them battle those sugar bugs!
Disclosure: I received products from Johnson & Johnson as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Kids Cavity-Free School Year Program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Click here to see more of the discussion.
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