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The Best Ways to Teach Good Habits to Kids

Child brushing teeth in front of mirror.
Every parent wants their children to grow up to be good, successful people. The habits children learn from their parents in their early years matter a great deal, but how does it happen? Kids’ habits are greatly influenced by what their parents teach them, both implicitly and by example. Teaching good habits can seem a little challenging at first, but it’ll bring great results with time and consistent practice.

How to Improve Your Kids’ Habits

One good habit for kids is having excellent oral hygiene! These habits include brushing teeth, flossing teeth, eating healthy foods, and for kids who are treating crooked teeth with an orthodontist, wearing their retainer. But as parents know, it’s not always easy to start a new habit and break bad habits such as not brushing teeth before bed or eating too many sugary snacks.

Here are ten ways to help teach your child good dental habits that will last them a lifetime, but all of these lessons can apply to any habit you’d like to teach.

  1. Be positive and don’t punish. Offer your child a small reward when they remember to brush their teeth without being told.
  1. Developing your kids’ habits will take some reminders! Post pictures, notes, and visual reminders in their room or on the bathroom mirror.
  1. Good habits for kids can develop when they’re given positive public feedback from a sibling, grandparent, or caregiver. This technique is especially helpful for toddlers who are in the early stages of tooth brushing.
  1. Consistent effort on the part of parents is necessary for your kids’ habits to stick.
  1. Gently help and encourage your child. Good habits for kids don’t appear overnight. Success will take some time.

A teenage girl sits in a dentist’s chair smiling.

  1. Make toothbrushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist for routine check-ups a family activity. Your little ones will enjoy spending the time with you, and you’ll be there to help reinforce your kids’ habits.
  1. Celebrate success! Your kids’ good habits for toothbrushing and dental care deserve to be celebrated and rewarded. Let them know how proud you are of their accomplishments and how much you love their healthy smile!
  1. Role-Play new experiences. Role-playing new situations, such as going to the dentist for an annual exam and cleaning, can be very helpful for developing good habits for kids with special needs. It can also be helpful if your child has friends who don’t have good dental habits. Kids are susceptible to peer pressure, and by having a role-playing activity where you say, “What would you do if you were at a sleepover and your friend didn’t brush their teeth before bed?” and then see what your child has to say. You can then provide suggestions to help your child discover how to keep their good dental habits wherever they go and whoever they’re with.

Teenager with braces smiles while holding a popsicle.

  1. Support why good dental habits for kids are essential. Be sure to let your child know why regular teeth brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups are vital to their health and wellbeing. Kids are more likely to remember to do these tasks when you let them know the benefits of good dental hygiene (white teeth, clean breath, no mouth pain) and the consequences of bad dental hygiene (cavities, toothaches, and bad breath).
  1. Have age-appropriate expectations. In order to develop good tooth brushing habits for kids, parents will want to make sure their expectations are age-appropriate. When an infant’s baby teeth appear, parents can hold a small toothbrush and gently brush it around the teeth and gums. As children get older, they will have better motor control and be able to keep the toothbrush independently. Still, supervision and occasional check-in to watch their technique will be necessary.

How to Be the Best Parent You Can

When teaching dental hygiene, or any good habits to your child, it’s important to be patient and understand that some days will be a struggle. When this happens, your favorite pediatric dentists at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental can help! Our dentists and dental technicians are here to help you and your child learn how to properly clean and care for their teeth when at home. During their check-ups, we’ll go over with both of you how to use a toothbrush correctly, how to floss, what foods are good for the teeth (and not), and what happens during your dental cleaning. With time and practice, your child will be able to care for their teeth independently and take pride in showing off their beautiful smile!

Are you looking for a dentist in Reno, Nevada? If so, Toothfairy Pediatric Dental has six convenient locations to choose from. Our offices are welcoming and friendly for all kids and their families.

Contact us to schedule your dental appointment today!