You know that adage, don't sweat the small stuff? This is small stuff.
Question: I have a 21-month-old daughter, and brushing teeth is a constant struggle. Any suggestions for making it an enjoyable experience for her and me? My pediatrician recommended that we let HER "brush" them in the morning and WE do it in the evening (to make sure her teeth are properly cleaned at least once a day, while allowing her some control). Still, she resists. I've tried songs, I've tried offering to count to five to get her to open her mouth, I've tried letting her hold toys. She watches my husband and me brush our teeth, but this is one situation where she is not motivated by imitation. I'd be grateful for some advice! Thank you.
From: Lisa in Wakefield
Lisa, you have probably noticed that at this age, it's hard to get your daughter to do anything you specifically want her to. She's much more interested in experimenting with the new-found power of "No!"
"If I say no, what does mommy say/do? What about this time? What about daddy? OK, what about this time? Wow, that was cool. I'm gonna try that again!"
My suggestion is to back off. Leave the toothbrush available to her, but tell her, "When you want to brush your teeth by yourself, here's your toothbrush. If you want us to help you, we can do that, too." Then stop offering, stop talking about it, don't insist upon it but do keep modeling for her. Nothing awful is going to happen to her teeth in the interim.
But I would also do this: Some time when she's in the bathroom with you, I'd mutter aloud, "Ooops I almost forgot to brush my teeth. It's so important to take good care of my teeth!" Another time, "Boy, my mouth feels good after I brush!" Don't direct these comments to her, just to the world at large. To the mirror.
Before you know it, she'll be wanting to brush, too. OK, maybe not tomorrow. But soon. Be patient.
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