Small parenting victory: brushing teeth


Today I had a minor victory. Liam has been resisting the toothbrush for awhile and it was starting to bother me. I kept imagining his teeth falling out due to his stubbornness and my unwillingness to start a battle in the bathroom over dental hygiene. 

I introduced the toothbrush to him at a fairly young age and initially he took to it well. He thought it was a toy and enjoyed swishing it around his mouth. A few weeks back, he started refusing the toothbrush. He would scream and wail whenever it’s “time to brush your teeth” so in the end I gave up. At first I thought he was teething so rubbing bristles in his mouth was hurting him. I also thought that maybe because we always did it at the end of bathtime, he hated to brush his teeth because that meant he had to get out of his bath, which sometimes became another battle if he felt like staying in his tub all day. 

Today I decided that I was the parent here in this relationship and I’m not about to let a 15 month old win this one. So when he rejected the toothbrush again, turning his head this way and that to avoid it, I decided to make it fun. 

I started to sing about brushing my teeth. 

You know the song, “this is the way we brush our hair, brush our hair, brush our hair”? I sang it but with “brush our teeth” instead. I sang with an upbeat tone and a lot of excitement, as if my very existence depended on it. Then I switched the words around. 

“Liam, you must brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth.”

After singing a few variations of it, he stopped what he was doing (poking the bubbles in the tub), reached out and took the toothbrush from me. He then stuffed it in his mouth and started swishing it around. I continued singing manically while he brushed his teeth.  Even when bath time ended, and I carried him out of the tub to be towelled dry, he was still industriously brushing his teeth, not bothered that bath time had ended for him. 

Any day where bath time doesn’t end in tears, and with clean teeth, is a win for me!

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