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Parenting Tips: How To Get Your Toddler To Brush Their Teeth

parenting tipsMy son is almost three years old. Overall I think we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping him alive and healthy. He looks like most three year old boys–covered in scabs from head to toe, bumps and bruises, and dirt. But he’s happy and we have a good time. Over the last year he really fought against letting us brush his teeth, however, and while he was game to try it himself, he wasn’t very interested in giving himself a thorough teeth cleaning. Go figure. But in the last two months we learned a trick from some nanny show my wife watched. If you are trying to get your toddler to brush their teeth (or let you do it) you might try this one simple trick:

Add a goat.

Actually, it can be any sort of animal. Let me explain. When we start our toddler’s winding down ritual for the night, Janette will ask him if he can hear the goat in his mouth. By this point she already has a little toy goat in her pocket. Max immediately gets intrigued, especially when we start making goat noises.

We ask him to open his mouth so we can find the goat with the toothbrush. Not only does he sit there patiently while we brush his teeth, he smiles through the whole thing. When he’s done, he fills a cup with water and rinses his mouth out. Whichever of us has the goat stands behind him, and when he spits, we throw the goat over his shoulder into the sink. And of course, he thinks it came out of his mouth and couldn’t be more proud of himself.

I know, it sounds silly, but it is working for us. And I’ll take silly over rotten teeth and dental bills. And the more I read about parenting advice, it looks like the constant search for hacks and tricks just like this. So that’s it for this installment. I don’t feel qualified to give much in the way of parenting suggestions, but my boy does let his brush his teeth, so if you’re having trouble with that it might be worth a try.


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