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Turn “go brush teeth” into “let’s brush teeth”

If you’ve followed along this thread of posts extolling the virtues of giving your mouth a nightly sanitizing mega-rinse, you know that I’ve tried to inspire my children through song, and lamented that my kids are growing up too fast. And I’ve been especially mindful of that last revelation over the last couple of weeks, ever since my older son started fifth grade. His attention to adult-ish hygiene is getting worse; now he won’t leave the house without wearing deodorant.

Gather ye pit-sticks while ye may, and all that.

If you’ve read my stuff with any regularity since I got divorced, you know I’ve always maintained that a 50/50 custody arrangement affords me the benefit of never taking any of the time I have with my kids for granted. When they’re here, and we do as many things together as they can tolerate–especially when it comes to teaching them how to do something.

So when it’s time to brush, we wedge ourselves into the bathroom, crowd around the sink, and brush together.

There are lots of benefits to this:

  • When we’re brushing, we have contests to see which of my hyper-competitive sons can brush the longest. This ensures that they’ll spend more than a cursory four nanoseconds sliding the brush along their gums, and I won’t arrive later to find hardened blue barnacles in the sink.
  • It’s always better when I do things with the kids, rather than hover over them like the Dad of Damocles.
  • It’s a teachable moment. How else are they going to learn how to do stuff unless they learn from someone who supposedly knows what he’s doing?
  • After they’re through flossing, I let them pretend to strangle each other with it. Espionage-ish fun for 3/4 of the whole family!
  • Training ourselves not to spit at the same time requires assiduous teamwork. When we get a good rhythm going, it’s almost as good as singing “Row Your Boat” with staggered lyrics.
  • When I brush my teeth at the kids’ bedtime, I tell myself I can’t raid the fridge after they’re asleep. Which is good when your kid likes to call you “Tubby.”
When I think about it, I suppose I’m just fine with my kids’ new attention to hygiene. Because it’s a matter of time before they become teenagers and ignore it all again.

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.

Read more from Doug on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.

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