If your child is a toddler, and you are always engaged in power battles just to get him to brush his teeth, you are not alone. In many homes, there seems to be a continuing battle with toddlers who refuse to brush their teeth. For parents, it can really be frustrating to deal with a child who always resists tooth brushing. But do you really know why your child is acting this way? If there are no physical symptoms causing his behavior, you may be able to understand his reaction if you also learn more about his developmental stage.
If you are quite used to have your way with your young child, you may be surprised that he may suddenly make decisions for himself. The toddler stage is marked by various milestones in terms of growth and development. A child may begin to walk, and he may also start to communicate. With his desire to move around swiftly and to be understood, a young child can easily get frustrated. And for toddlers, their frustration can easily turn into tantrums, which is what these kids are quite known for.
To add to that, it is also the time when a young child learns that he is a separate individual from his parents. With all these things going for him, it is only normal for a toddler to seek autonomy. And with his desire to learn more about his environment and the people around him, a child may display limit testing behavior.
When you tell your child that it’s time to brush his teeth, he may firmly refuse without any obvious reason. And even if you try different techniques on how to convince him, there is still a possibility that he will stand his ground. For a child, it can be very rewarding if he can get his way despite his parents’ objections. It’s not really a child’s intention to give his parents a hard time, but by asserting his way and getting what he wants in the process, a child is able to feel sense of autonomy. .
Basing on a child’s growth and development, you can effectively encourage healthy habits. A toddler initially needs his parents to brush his teeth, but when he is already able to do it, always promote independence. Parents should also try to understand that toddlers need time before they see the point of the act. Although he may regularly see you brush your teeth, he may still think that it’s no use. Be persistent in enforcing the habit, and explain to your child why it should be part of his routine.
After he eats something that can temporarily smear his teeth, have him look at his appearance in front of the mirror. You can then show how brushing his teeth can clean up the mess. You may also tell stories that can illustrate the habit, and you may even support your teaching with picture books and related videos. Your child needs to see that everybody, even his favorite cartoon character brushes his teeth.
It is also very important to remember that your toddler wants some autonomy, and he may be more willing to give in to your requests if you give gives him just that. Give your toddler the freedom to choose his own toothbrush, and you can even be generous by allowing him to get a few. It’s certainly not illegal to own many toothbrushes at one time. Perhaps your child will slowly perceive tooth brushing as something acceptable and exciting, when he is given some choice. If he chooses toothbrushes with cartoon characters, allow him to decide which toothbrush he will use at a particular time.
Take advantage of your child’s world of play by making tooth brushing a fun activity. Brush your teeth together, and make it fun for your child. You may also use peer influence as a motivator. If your child witnesses somebody he can identify with demonstrating the habit, he may also be encouraged to do the same. Try to get brushing time predictable. Young kids are very particular about routines, and it may be more effective if he has an idea on the particular time that he needs to brush his teeth.
Toddlers are quite known for their “terrible twos”, and their manipulative behavior. And although it may be hard to understand their temperament, we have to remember that they are actually lovable and precious individuals yearning to be understood.