When you have kids age 3 and under, it’s easy to feel like every day is Groundhog Day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, potty breaks, naptime, bathtime, bedtime… you know how it goes. Schedules have been life (and sanity!) savers in our home. But when babies become toddlers it definitely makes things more interesting.
In some ways, those toddler years are magical. Their little personalities begin to bloom, and they’re fascinated with the world around them. And the mundane can become magical… like impromptu tea parties, crayon drawings, and amazing Lego creations. But with this season also comes a lot of testing. Especially when it comes to limits and boundaries.
On the one hand, I have to admit that toddler power struggles are completely understandable. It’s gotta be tough to be a little person with a growing personality and strong opinions, with so little decision-making power over their daily life and schedule. But on the other hand, as parents, we do them a major disservice if we allow them to just have their way all the time.
With our kids, we’ve found that giving our kids reasonable options often helps diffuse a deadlocked situation. Especially over something non-negotiable… like toothbrushing. Stalling, selective amnesia, and tantrums are universal tactics employed by toddlers to wield power, but they’re also opportunities to encourage them to do the next right thing.
Here are a few tips and tricks to encourage your toddler to be a willing participant in their oral hygiene routine:
Offer Lots of Options
There are literally 4 tubes of toothpaste in my kids’ bathroom. And my 3-year-old daughter typically has at least 2 toothbrushes at any given time. That way, when it’s time to brush her teeth, she feels empowered by getting to choose the toothpaste and toothbrush she’d like to use. All of her toothpaste options have fluoride, but she can decide which color and flavor. She’s also allowed to put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on her toothbrush, with supervision.
Toddlers want to do more and more by themselves. This desire for independence is healthy and normal, but there are still a lot of things they can’t just do on their own yet. When it comes to toothbrushing, it’s important to let them practice their skills. And it’s also important to make sure their teeth are being brushed properly. We allow her to start brushing by herself, but then we go back over her teeth to make sure they’re clean. We do the same thing with flossing. She can use the flosser by herself first, and then we go back in to make sure nothing was missed.
When it comes to brushing your little one’s teeth, try holding them in your lap or cradling them while you brush from behind. It’s safer and allows you to better see into their mouth.
Make It Fun!
Mary Poppins was onto something when she sang about a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. In our house, music is one way we make chores and other daily tasks fun. I love finding Disney movie soundtracks on Hoopla and letting them choose a song to listen to while they get dressed, clean up, brush their teeth, etc. Or sometimes, we sing! This old gem of a song has gotten us through power struggles over toothbrushing more nights than I can count. It’s easy to learn and the kids love it.
I understand. Sometimes it feels so much easier to give in rather than require obedience. Especially after a long day of power struggles over other things! But allowing our toddlers to not brush their teeth and end up with cavities is not an option. Giving them the power to make some decisions in the process goes a long way. You can do this, Mama!
Call the Dentist
These tips and tricks are helpful when it comes to creating and maintaining an oral hygiene routine. But it’s also vital that they see a dentist for routine exams and cleanings every 6 months.
Are you looking for a pediatric dentist committed to providing the exceptional care your child deserves? Call Dr. Bob! His small boutique practice is conveniently located in South Miami, where he and his team customize the care they provide to each of their patients. And he’s a parent, too!
Dr. Bob Pediatric Dentist continues to follow the strictest protocols for cleanliness and has incorporated increased safety measures to ensure your child’s safety. So don’t delay. Call the office at 305-397-8214 or click here to schedule an appointment today!
Be sure to check out this helpful Q&A post where Dr. Bob answers a lot of common questions about pediatric dental issues.