It's a familiar scenario in many households – it's time to brush your children's teeth but after a day of enthusiastically exercising their vocal chords, they suddenly become stubbornly tight-lipped! For many parents, they find that no amount of coaxing or distraction tactics will unzip those firmly sealed lips, in their child's determined defiance of the loathed toothbrush.
If brushing your children's teeth is a regular challenge for you, as it has been for us with our youngest who is now 3, you might feel encouraged that we've finally found a magic solution!
We were really worried about the damage to our son's teeth when he simply refused to co-operate with this routine. Other than pinning him down and waiting for him to open his mouth to wail his protests (hardly a positive toothbrushing experience) we simply couldn't clean his teeth. Our family dentist wasn't overly concerned and suggested just letting him play with the toothbrush himself. We were already doing that but his teeth really weren't getting even close to being cleaned properly and were becoming increasingly laden with a worrying and unsightly build-up of scale.
We tried numerous ways to make the concept of brushing fun for him, including involving his sisters and ourselves in a fun-packed routine, but he quickly saw through our ploy and we made no progress. His love of dinosaurs helped to an extent when we made up songs about mummy, daddy and baby dinosaurs brushing their teeth, to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus", but even then our success was limited and we could only get the toothbrush in very briefly!
Sometimes children's main issue about cleaning their teeth can be something as simple as the fact that they simply doesn't like the taste of their toothpaste but for us, this wasn't the case – he was quite happy to eat his, given half a chance, which we were of course very keen to avoid! We bought numerous toothbrushes which featured favourite characters but nothing worked.
To our amazement though, we have now found the simplest answer which allows us to brush his teeth, with full co-operation for as long as we like!!!! This can be adapted to any child – hopefully with the same miraculous results we've had! Like so many children, our little boy is an avid fan of the Toy Story films. By involving him in a memory game, listing the names of all the characters we can think of across the three Toy Story films, he will let us brush each row of teeth for every character's name! What's great about this is that it can be kept novel and interesting by changing the theme or film/TV or book characters for any other favourites - and if you run out of names before you've finished brushing, just start again! Siblings will also love joining in with helping to remember the characters!
Bizarrely, our 4 year old (influenced by her 11 year old sister) insists on playing this game using all the characters from the Twighlight books and films, even though she of course doesn't know who any of them are!
Fingers crossed, this might help you to effortlessly win the battle at toothbrushing time – or inspire other similar ideas that work a treat for you! Good luck and please do feel free to share any ideas, suggestions or success stories that you may have, by adding a comment!