Since brushing and flossing one’s teeth is a basic hygienic need, rewarding it might seem counterproductive. In fact, parents often worry that rewarding their children for completing something they’re going to have to do for the rest of their lives may result in the child being spoiled. Actually, though, rewards are great incentives when small children are learning hygienic tasks like brushing and flossing. You simply need to have the right rewards in place. Here are a few that may work well for you and your family.
It’s often helpful for younger kids to be able to see how often they complete a task and how much they’re improving. Therefore, if your child is three to six years old, try implementing a sticker chart. Every time your child brushes his or her teeth successfully, he or she gets a sticker, a gold star, or some other marker. You can also use the chart to measure how much his or her teeth care skills are improving. Paramount Dentistry, a Brantford dentist, recommends that children be supervised while brushing their teeth until they are seven or eight. Most young children want to assert independence as soon as possible, so praising their increased skills will give them the desire to continue brushing. After a certain amount of time, or so many successful brush-and-floss routines, the markers your child has earned can be traded in for a bigger reward, like a small toy or extra time playing video or computer games.
Every child enjoys receiving new things, but as they get older, they also enjoy the confidence that comes with making their own purchases rather than relying on Mom and Dad. Make a commitment that your child’s allowance will go toward the purchase of a gift card from a favorite store for a certain period of time. Then, part of his or her allowance should be tied to the successful completion of hygiene chores such as brushing and flossing. You can decide together what the amount of money will be, and how large the gift card should be. At the end of the set time, your child gets to shop either in person or online (with careful supervision) for the items he or she has earned.
A lot of kids, particularly those with siblings, consider one-on-one time with Mom and Dad quite rewarding. While this is not a reward that should be tied exclusively to chores or hygiene, it’s a good idea to plan a special outing at an appropriate time. For example, if your child has been brushing diligently and thus, has a great dental checkup, reward him or her by doing something fun afterward–a trip to the mall, the movies, or somewhere else enticing. As a rule, though, sugary snacks should not be a big part of this time together, unless they’re meant as a rare treat.
Make a Trade
Sometimes kids feel overwhelmed or frustrated with the tasks they are told they must do–brushing, flossing, showering, chores, homework, and so forth. For older children, especially those who have just graduated to unsupervised brushing, offer a trade. Say that if they properly address oral hygiene for one week, you will be willing to “trade” them a chore. For example, if they always unload the dishwasher, you or your spouse will take over for one week as a reward. Then your child can use the traded time to do fun things instead.
Getting your child to brush diligently and properly can be a struggle. However, most kids enjoy seeing tangible results for the efforts they make. Therefore, you can feel good about giving them appropriate rewards when necessary.
Savannah Coulsen is a freelance writer. She lives in Raleigh. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru.