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How do you get your strong-willed 2 yr old to brush her teeth without a complete fight??

My girl used to be SO cooperative, then she turned 2 1/2. She won't even let me hold her toothbrush WITH her and guide her hand anymore without pitching a complete fit. I don't want to do it this way, but I've had to force her into a certain position, holding her hands in one hand and basically giving her a headlock with my arm so she doesn't shake, and brush her like that. I mean, her breath is starting to get stinky and I'm worried she will be getting cavities. I hate, hate, HATE to do it that way, but all of my gentle, child-led ways have failed recently.

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Asked by MamaLisa1976 at 4:53 PM on Dec. 30, 2010 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 16 (3,073 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • Why not let her brush first and then you finish up? Sometimes it's more about them having some control.

    My DD has 2 tooth brushes. She gets to brush first and then I finish with mine. They are the firelight ones with the blinkers. She gets to brush until her blinker goes off and then I do mine.

    Answer by Jademom07 at 4:56 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • brush your teeth with her and show her how to do it that way. dont force her itll just discourage her from wantin to do it ever.

    Answer by youngmami07 at 4:56 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • i agree with jademom let her brush her own teeth first then you do it. maybe go let her pick out a brand new tooth brush thats can be her special toothbrush.

    Answer by Jaxsmommy09 at 4:57 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • If it's become a battle then try to come up with ways to make it fun or exciting. You might try getting a musical toothbrush or singing a silly song about it while she does it. I ask my son to show me how a robot brushes his teeth and I ask my daughter how a princess brushes her teeth, and they will generally cooperate and show me. Sometimes i tell them I can hear the germs having a party in there and ask them if they can brush them out, and as they do I pretend I can hear the germs screaming; they think that is funny. You could also let her brush your teeth while you brush hers.


    Answer by TweenAndTwinMom at 4:58 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • My DD was very independent from early on too. What might work is planning to brush your teeth together, you brush yours, she brushes hers. Then, after a little brushing, ask her if she can help you reach your back teeth ... since they are so hard for people to do themselves. After helping with your teeth, ask nicely, "Thank you. Would you like me to help brush yours?" She may say no the first time, but after a couple of "co-brushings", she might be more willing to "share" the task. Also, it was helpful for me to talk to my DD about this kind of thing when she was in a playful mood. Remind her that you are just trying to help, and it's because you love her. Good Luck. :-)

    Answer by ss_mom at 5:02 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • Go out with her, and buy a new and fun toothbrush. She can choose which one. Find a toothpaste with a nice strawberry flavor that she likes. Buy an electric toothbrush so she can just hold it by herself. Buy one with the two minutes fun clock. Or buy a cooking clock (for kids there are some funny and/or cute shaped). Tell her if she brushes her teeth nicely she can get some treat (like a nice story, or she can watch 10 minutes TV, or whatever it works. Buy rinsing liquids so you can be sure the teeth-brushing is complete. If you force her she will hate it more and more. Make it a fun action. And promise her keep-able treats. Buy some books or cartoons where they show how important the teeth-brushing is and read with her. Take her to the dentist and ask someone there to talk to her about how important to keep her teeth clean. When she brushes her teeth you can brush yours. So she can be the part of a together thing.


    Answer by adriennfaklya at 5:03 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • I did and still do what jadenmom does. Let her brush then I finish up.

    Answer by cheekycherub at 5:21 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • Electric toothbrush, or one that play music, lights up, etc. Then let her brush with it, then you brush. We use a minute timer, one of hourglass ones with sand. My 2 year old knows that he brushes until all the sand goes through the timer, and then I brush for one turn of the timer. He can watch it "countdown" so he knows how much longer.

    Answer by missanc at 6:02 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • My son has always hated having his teeth brushed. I tried everything listed above and still got no where. My pediatirican told me to take the brute force approach. Teeth have to be brushed. Every night, we gave him the option of being cooperative. If he was, great. If he wasn't, I laid him on the floor, pinned his arms with my legs (kept him still without hurting him) and brushed while he screamed. After a while, he realized screaming wasn't getting him anywhere. Things are much better now but he would rather have his teeth brushed laying down on the floor rather than standing up. We've also had more luck with an electric toothbrush but that's been hit or miss.

    Answer by momofryan07 at 7:09 PM on Dec. 30, 2010

  • So far, yep, I've let her watch me then let her do it, I've let her do it first then had her let me get in there afterwards, I've sung the ABC's during it, I've let her brush my teeth while I brush hers, I've showed her my fillings and told her when I was a little girl I didn't brush my teeth and I got a hole in my tooth and it hurt. All of these worked... but not for long. She moved past these efforts & she just insists on doing it herself... her way or the highway. (Just like her daddy... ohhh I'm in for it, lol!!)
    I like the ideas about a musical toothbrush and especially the hourglass... I'm gonna try that next. Thanks girls.

    Comment by MamaLisa1976 (original poster) at 9:17 AM on Jan. 1, 2011

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