Nag-Free Tips for Getting Kids to Brush and Floss Regularly
Nagging your children to regularly brush and floss can be frustrating and exhausting – for all parties involved (or anyone within earshot). Worst of all, it simply doesn’t work. Nagging is ineffective if you want to use it for changing or improving behavior. Your kid may grudgingly follow your orders just to get you to stop, but that doesn’t mean you have successfully instilled the value of regular dental care in them.
So how do you remind, encourage and drive your child to take care of their teeth without sounding like you’re on loop or repeat mode? Here are some nag-free tips for getting kids to brush and floss on schedule:
Start them young.
Teach them how to brush and floss at an early age. This will give them lots of practice and allow them to get used to the routine. When they do the steps on a regular basis, they will eventually learn how to brush and floss all by themselves.
Infuse fun into the lessons.
There are many ways to make each lesson on proper oral care more interesting and understandable. Teach the lessons via a storytelling session (of course, you need to pick a story that underscores the importance of consistent dental care). Play Show & Tell with a toothbrush as your prop. Do a song and dance number. Fun makes learning easy and more meaningful.
Give them ownership of the task.
When people feel accountable for their actions, they will accomplish the tasks in a highly engaged manner. So get your children involved every step of the way, from selecting and buying the toothbrush to following the right directions while brushing.
Don’t aim for perfection (yet).
When your child is still learning to brush their teeth, they will make a mess. The toothpaste cap can go missing. Too much toothpaste can go to waste. Water can spill on their clothes, on the floor, everywhere. When this happens, resist the urge to nag once again. Leave room for error and lots of opportunities for your child to practice until he or she gets all the steps right.
Go for positive reinforcement.
Instead of focusing on negative behaviors, highlight the positive deeds your child has accomplished. Praise your child and freely give out words of encouragement. Set expectations using a way of communicating that is age-appropriate and personality-oriented.
Lastly, remember that at-home oral care is not sufficient. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly for early problem detection, thorough cleaning and recommendations for total dental health care and monitoring.