Summer. The time for cool slices of watermelon, backflips off the diving board, and intense neighborhood wide games of capture the flag. Summer. The time for kids to throw their hygiene out the window with their old textbooks and report cards.
One summer, a few years ago, I remember my Mom suddenly interrupting a conversation with my brother, her nose wrinkled and her mouth twisted into a grimace. “When is the last time you brushed your teeth?” she asked cautiously as she slowly backed away from my brother and his offensive mouth odors. “I don’t know”, he shrugged, “last day of school maybe”. I forgot to mention, this story takes place in July.
My stinky little narrative might sound terrifyingly familiar to some of you. Summer can mean hard times for braces care and hygiene. Humans are creatures of habit and unfortunately, sometimes it is all too easy for us to break those brushing habits we worked all year to make. So how do you motivate kiddos to pick up the floss before they run out the door to the pool? Check out some of our tips below, they might be a breath of fresh air!
- Turn brushing into a game
When you turn a task into a game, even the most dreaded chores become an exciting adventure your kids can’t wait to embark on. Set up a small hourglass in the bathroom and challenge your kids to a race, but instead of finishing before the hourglass runs outs they must finish after the time is up.
- Set up a points system
Even as an adult I love to earn points for succeeding at a task. It makes me feel accomplished and I walk away feeling proud of myself, even if the points don’t lead to a tangible reward. Points and point goals can be used to encourage all good hygiene and braces care habits. Wear your elastics all day? One point for you! Wear your Invisalign trays for the recommended 22 hours? Four points for you! Just the feeling of earning points for succeeding is motivation enough, but I’m sure your kiddos wouldn’t mind if you threw in a snowcone for reaching point goals.
- Let them choose their own brushing items
Nothing makes a child feel more proud than letting them pick out their very own toothbrush. Having something that is theirs, chosen by them, and only touched by them can help inspire responsibility, accountability, and a new enthusiasm for using the item.
- Lead by example
Children are tiny little sponges that absorb every little bit of information that comes their way. What better way to motivate your child’s good hygiene practices than by leading by example. Brushing and flossing with your kiddos every morning is not only a great way to encourage good hygiene, it also gives you those few extra minutes to hang out together before the day gets too busy. At night, it’s a nice way to unwind together and reflect on the action packed summer day you all just enjoyed.
So what happens if you have tried absolutely everything and your child is still struggling with hygiene? Well, you can always tell them that their teeth will rot and fall out if they don’t brush. Or they will be in braces forever! The decision is yours.