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To Brush or Not To Brush: Secrets to Removing the Tooth Brushing Battles
by Alyson Shafer

I have yet to meet a parent who hasn't fought the battle of brushing teeth at some point. You are trying to get tuck-ins done and over so you watch your favorite show and instead you are held hostage in the bathroom with a kid who won't open his mouth!

There are few proven tips to trauma-free tooth brushing.

Apply logical consequences. One gift we can give our children is the understanding that life, freedom and responsibilities go together. Applying logical consequences teaches children this connection.

In order for logical consequences to be effective and not punitive, it must meet our 3R requirements:

  • Reasonable
  • Related (to the freedom or right) Reasonable
  • Revealed in advance (to the child to he or she can make their own choice)

Children would like to have the freedom to eat and sugar and sweets. That freedom comes with the responsibility of caring for their teeth by removing the sugar that causes the decay. Eating sweets and tooth brushing are a package deal if you want sugar, ya gotta brush. It's simple.

Here's how that's going to play out . . .
Let your child know that as long as you see him being responsible in caring for his teeth, you are happy to allow him to have some sugar. However, should he choose not to care for his teeth, you'll understand that he is choosing not to have sugar and you'll provide a "tooth-friendly diet of good, wholesome fresh foods instead."

When your child refuses to brush, say, "I see you are choosing not to have sugar" and then move right along to the next activity (tuck-ins or leaving for school). Do not make it a battle. Simply drop the subject. Don't worry about the effects of one or two days (or even a week) of missed tooth brushing while you are training your child to understand the connecting between this freedom and responsibility.

Cavities won't happen in that short a period. Focus on the long-term goal of developing good oral hygiene for life.

Alyson ShaferAbout the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada's leading parenting experts. Alyson is the best selling author of 3 parenting books; Breaking The Good Mom Myth, Honey, I Wrecked The Kids and her latest, Ain't Misbehavin. Alyson is the media's go-to person and speaks regularly on parenting issues involving kids of all ages. For tips on discipline, bullying, sibling rivalry and other daily parenting issues visit www.alysonschafer.com.

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