Fun toothbrushing tips for kids from an expert

Motivating your kids to brush their teeth can be a challenge, but fortunately Deirdre Holland Hannon, Child Behaviour Specialist, is here to give us plenty of expert tips on how to make brushing fun and keep you all smiling.

Published 31/08/23 by Amy Blanchard

Fun toothbrushing tips for kids from an expert

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/2BPF8U2iCUNLFU81EAzm4q/9080ae31813e2b467f7697815c38821b/1.pngHi, I’m Deirdre! For years I have been supporting families navigate family life and all the transitions and milestones that go with it. Brushing teeth is one of those daily healthy habits and moments of self care we need to encourage our kids to take part in. There can be many reasons our toddlers and younger kids push back when brushing teeth, some of these include feeling out of control and sensory challenges.

Here are some ideas and ways we can nurture good habits, reduce some of their resistance around brushing their teeth and make the day to day routines of family life run a little smoother.

Monkey see, monkey do

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/4vI3kKR3IPwzdS6tgfbbQB/3b4c79f262d2e5fb112ea65a6903ad7d/28.pngTry modelling the habit and behaviour you want to see your child doing. So rather than a hand over hand approach, why not get down to their level and brush your teeth with them to show them how it looks. It can be really overwhelming and uncomfortable for kids to have us brushing inside their mouths, so even if it’s not to your standards, try letting them brush their own teeth. Toddlers are very much at the age and stage developmentally where they are seeking more control and independence which can lead to resistance if we as the parent find it hard to let go. 

Consistency

Being able to predict and trust the start and finish of something they don’t enjoy doing can be really handy in gaining cooperation from the kids. tonies® have developed a toothbrush timer which can help it become a predictable and reliable task for little ones. Naturally, we can ask too much sometimes or get distracted by siblings and forget to tell them “that’s enough, you can finish, great brushing”. The tonies® Toothbrush Timer can help make expectations very consistent. Consistency is key to building healthy habits and essential in parenting under sevens. 

Play is the work of children

Playfulness is the way to their hearts. What is incredibly useful about playfulness is that it creates moments of crucial connection for us with our kids. Often parents struggle to make quality time to connect with their kids while they juggle all that goes with modern family life – I know it’s a constant challenge in our home with a family of five! If they need a little guidance, make sure it’s in a fun way, for example you could say “Oh hold on, I think I see a dinosaur back there”. Make these tasks part of your time to connect and have fun. I love the Moshi Toothbrushing Song on the mytonies app. It's easy to assign to the Creative-Tonie and it's all about tooth-related fun facts with a catchy song that encourages little ones to brush their teeth. If you find yourself hitting a wall with playfulness, let tonies® help.

Audio Sample

Spicy toothpaste!

The common mint flavour of toothpaste often feels spicy to little ones and this can be a massive barrier to brushing teeth. Try shopping around as there are loads of brands that make lovely tasting toothpaste including strawberry and bubble-gum.

Start small

Start building the habit into your daily routine with no toothpaste. A brush with water is better than nothing. When you are trying to build up a healthy habit, just start small. Try thinking: how can I make this easier for them? This will be a lifelong investment. Pair this less preferred task with a highly preferred activity or toy. If bath time is their favourite, why not brush in the bath. If tonies® time is their favourite, let's bring their Toniebox to the brush! Download the free Tonie Timer and fun songs to your child’s Creative-Tonie to get started with brushing their teeth. 

Audio Sample

Teething to tooth 

The earlier you start brushing their teeth the better, as soon as they have a tooth don’t be afraid to start getting them involved. Every dentist will tell you this from an oral hygiene point of view, but it's a great benefit for developing the routine too. 

Tools

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/1i3oBaddT3oECNuQdlTPrm/b4a6d83979b551895aa695f44b0263dd/29.pngDo try out different toothbrushes as sometimes a child can have different sensory challenges depending on the brush. An electric one could be the best invention ever for one child and another’s worst nightmare, so it's important to test out what might make it a more achievable task for each individual child.

I hope you find these helpful. Navigating the day to day routine can be stressful sometimes. Breathe and remember you are doing your best, and your best is always good enough.

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About Amy Blanchard

Amy Blanchard
...
Amy’s favourite Tonie is Matilda. From a very young age, she was utterly obsessed with Matilda. She watched and read it so many times that she practically had the whole script memorised. As she grew older, she remained just like Matilda, a bookworm, a trickster, and a dreamer!