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Tips and Tricks for Teaching Kids to Brush Their Teeth


Teach kids to brush their teeth

Get your kids excited and proud about taking care of their chompers.

By the time your kids turn six they likely have the coordination to brush their own teeth – if they can write their name, they are probably ready. Get them excited to take over the twice-a-day routine you’ve been doing for them until now by framing it as an exciting new privilege: Now that they are big kids, they get to be in charge of brushing their own teeth.

These seven tips will help get them engaged by making brushing a fun, rewarding activity they are proud to do for themselves:

  1. Practice on Teddy. Use a favorite toy to “practice” on first. Explain how to brush in a gentle, circular “train wheels” motion at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Tell them they’ve “graduated” and can now brush their own teeth.
  2. Make it Special. Tell kids that brushing is something you’re going to start “letting" them do to build happy anticipation. Plan an important outing where kids get to pick out their own new toothbrush, a colorful rinse cup and a fun toothpaste flavor. 
  3. Monkey-see, Monkey-do. Brush with your child, or have the whole family brush together. Have kids copy you, or let them brush your teeth too.
  4. Create a Chart. Involve kids in making a special brushing chart in advance, so they can get excited about being able to earn stickers each morning and night. 
  5. Set a Timer. Pick up a colorful egg timer and begin with a “Ready, Set, Go!” as you count down 2-minutes of brushing. You can also set time by singing or playing music.
  6. Set Up Rewards. Put that brushing chart to good use and involve kids in choosing a reward for a sticker-filled week, like staying up an extra half hour on the weekend.
  7. Keep Them Engaged. Have them pretend they are a crocodile with a big mouth full of teeth. Ask if their brush is scaring away all the plaque bullies. Encourage lots of bubbles and funny faces in the mirror. Playful brushing can break down resistance and keep kids more interested. 

Young children need help to make sure they’re brushing right, and should be supervised until they are about 8 years old. Patience, involvement and praise from you will help them establish a healthy oral care routine for life. 

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2016