When we see our child running away or resenting to brush their teeth, we catch hold of their hands and legs and force the brush into their mouth… Awful and Yes, I have been there, done that.
But then an intriguing thought crossed my mind. Is all my inflicting, actually teaching her the valuable lesson of brushing her teeth twice a day?
Probably not, In fact, for all the wrong reasons, I was teaching her that if someone does not listen to you, you impose things on them. And since you are an adult you have the right to do so. So when they grow up they will act the same way. So it is a complete No.
Nevertheless, the question remains, how to make them brush their teeth twice without any hassles and whining.
Well, I did some research and found out some hacks to crack this code. I tried below approach for a few days and discovered amazing results!!
I started telling my kid the below story (my kid was 2.8 years old when I started this).
The story goes like this. (You can translate it in your language, just understand the storyline and remember that it has to be told in conviction and a bit of animation, emphasis on certain words would do wonders).
A Wizard and a Toad:
A long, long time ago there was a wizard who accidentally invented a rather unusual spell. Whoever the spell was used on would get perfect teeth. As he didn’t know what to do with this discovery, the wizard decided to use it on one of his toads. After the spell was cast, the toad became a very smiley happy amphibian. Not only could he now eat all sorts of foods, but he also started speaking.
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The Wizard and a Toad!!
“I’m delighted with the change”, repeated the toad, proudly, “I much prefer the consumption of candy to feeding on filthy flies”.
The wizard noticed that the toad was taking little care about choosing what to eat, and he kept telling the toad,
“Look after your teeth, Mr Toad. Brush them so you don’t get a toothache. And, above all, don’t eat so many sweets…
But the toad didn’t pay much attention. He thought his teeth were too strong for him to have to brush them, and he liked sweets so much that he didn’t even try to eat less.
One day, a tooth started decaying and, gradually, the decay spread throughout his mouth. Before long, the toad discovered that there were holes in all his teeth, and they were starting to fall out. He decided to start looking after them, but by then it was too late. And when his last tooth fell out, he lost the ability to talk.
Poor Mr Toad! If he hadn’t lost that last tooth he could have told the wizard that if he gave him teeth again he would brush them every day. After all, there’s nothing more disgusting than having to go back to eating bugs. Yuck!
I told my kid this story the first night before sleeping.
She was fascinated by the way I was narrating the story so much that she started asking me “then what happened, Ma?”.
The next morning, I did a role-play in front of her with animations:
Me: What did we learn yesterday night? Did we learn about a toad and the wizard? Right? What was the toad doing in that story?
My Kid: eating Candies
Me: Yes, Very Good, the wizard had given him bright shiny teeth just like my baby has. Now when he ate all candies, what happened?
My kid: teeth bad
Me: Very good, so what did the wizard tell him to do to prevent tooth decay?
I thought she would quickly turn to me for brushing, however, she ran away saying that “Mom, but I am not a toad.”
I just laughed at her innocence and said (Acknowledging her feelings)
“Hmm, you have a point there (yes, you are correct), my dear Bunny, is not a toad. Hmm, but she has beautiful white teeth, which shines brightly when she smiles”
She started smiling. After a pause ( without being much persuasive)
“But if she doesn’t brush her teeth, her teeth might also go bad. Then she won’t be able to eat chocolates, candies, cakes just like the toad. “
After a few days of trying relentlessly, she started to understand and was less resentful for brushing. Although, there were times that she didn’t want to brush at all, those times I did not force her. I simply said,
“Okay, fine if you don’t feel like brushing now, you can do it after some time. “
And after some time, I would again remind her saying
“Should we brush your teeth? so that all the germs are killed and no germ will eat your teeth! “
She would listen to me sometimes and sometimes she won’t, which is fine. Just make sure, you are not very pushy about it. Otherwise, the kid will resent more the next time.
The Imperative fundamental here is that : Our ultimate goal is not to impose things on them but to teach them the value of healthy habits like brushing their teeth!
Ultimately, there came a time when my kid herself started reminding me that “Mom, we need to brush our teeth or else, the germs will eat all my teeth”. How proud was I that day! Believe me, this works.
Now I don’t have to worry about it at all. I just say that it is time to brush your teeth and fight with the germs (Dishoom Dishoom) and she is all ears to it! Sometimes she even asks me to tell the story again while we are brushing.
And sometimes I would sing her the rhyme
“ Brush, Brush, Brush your teeth, Every Morning! Every Night”
PS: Even I brush my teeth (twice a day) whenever she has to brush, just to make her realize that I stand by what I say. This helped her understand that it is a very important chore of the day.
Below are some key points to retrospect:
Give Information(e.g. Tell a story)
Acknowledge their feelings (if they don’t feel like doing the thing)
Don’t force them if they don’t feel like
Don’t give derogatory comments if they don’t listen
Last but not the least, have a lot of patience, that’s what parenting is all about!!
“Happy Kids, Happy us”
Do try, and let me know how it worked for you? You can also reach me on my email. Happy Parenting!! :)