When so many adults have a problem flossing regularly, it’s no wonder that children floss even less frequently than their parents. But flossing is an integral part of oral health, and the American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once daily.
We all want to instill positive habits in our kids, and sometimes, even getting them to brush regularly can be difficult. So what can you do to end the anti-flossing battle with your kiddo? You could always find a dentist who could explain the benefits, but sometimes, it takes a little more work on your end.
Here are a few tips for getting young children to floss — and maybe even making it fun:
Find ways to make a game out of flossing. You could assign points and keep score between parents and kids, or between two siblings. If you have two kids, having them compete against each other to be the better, more consistent flosser can be a great way to raise the stakes in a way that they will respond to. Turning flossing into a game is an age-old trick that might not work with every kid, but will work for some. You could tie “winning” the game to a prize or reward, just make sure to let your kids win!
Sticking with flossing over long periods of time is very difficult, especially for children. They can be easily distracted or bored with the ways you have incentivized flossing and revert back to fussing about it nightly.
There is one sure way to make it seem worth their time, and that’s giving them something that they want when they do what you ask. Giving them a small prize for flossing every day of the week and a larger prize for flossing a certain number of days each month. Flossing is a lot easier for kids when they know there is a reward at the end!
Showing your kids what will happen to their teeth if they don’t take care of them can go a long way toward convincing them to floss. There are plenty of kid-friendly, educational videos online that can help to explain how skipping flossing can damage teeth. You can also ask your family dentist to explain the importance of flossing to them on their visit. Dentists have had lots of practice explaining these concepts to kids and might be able to do a better job than we can as parents.
Kids are more comfortable when they play a role in choosing the supplies that they use. The next time that you go to the store for dental supplies bring them along and let them pick out their own. By making them a part of the planning of daily flossing, they will be more likely to follow through when it’s time to floss.
It’s always more fun and motivational to do difficult things with other people. (It’s why we have workout buddies to share in our misery at the gym!) If you want your kid to see how important flossing is, make sure that they see you flossing as often as possible. Whenever they floss, you can floss with them. Not only will this make them less likely to fight you on flossing, but it will help you improve your own dental health as well.
Flossing isn’t always regarded as a fun activity, but it is an important one. It’s important that we instill positive flossing habits in our children from a young age so that they can achieve great oral health as an adult. By trying to make flossing a fun and competitive group activity, kids will be less likely to avoid it each night.
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