Your children are watching you, even when you think they aren’t. And they learn a lot from what they see — both good and bad. While it can seem like you’re wasting your time when you try to instill good habits in your kids through lectures and teaching them, some of it gets through. The best way to ensure your kids pick up good habits, however, is to model them yourself. This is particularly true when it comes to good oral health. By holding yourself to at least the same standard of dental care that you’d like to see from your children, you’re sending the message that this is, truly, something that’s important throughout their lives.
Make — And Keep! — Regular Appointments
There’s a road paved with good intentions, and it’s probably not the one you want to go down. Making and keeping regular appointments for cleanings and dental checkups shows your kids that this is something everyone does — and should do! While it can be tempting to skip your cleaning because your schedule is packed, don’t cancel with the intention of going back later when things are less hectic. You’re teaching your child that their own health and well-being takes a back seat to work, household obligations or the needs of those around them. That’s a dangerous precedent that follows them throughout life and may appear in a variety of situations. Instead, make your dental appointments a priority during busy times in your life; you’ll model the attitude that self-care comes before the rest.
Don’t Slack on Home Care
Do you brush and floss religiously, multiple times a day? What about after every meal? We’re betting you don’t — and that’s okay. Even the most fastidious people sometimes forget to take care of their teeth. Maybe you forgot your toothbrush at home on an overnight trip or it’s just not feasible to brush after a lunch meeting at work. Your children aren’t keeping track of your slipups — they’re noticing that you make an effort to take care of your teeth on a regular basis. Just as you ask them to brush and floss upon waking and before bed, let them see you do the same. No time for a brush after a visit to their favorite lunch spot? Make a point of letting them know you’re rinsing just to buy yourself some time before you can properly take care of your teeth. If you’re having trouble holding yourself to the same oral care routine you expect from your kids, make it a family activity and do it at the same time.
Address Problems Promptly
A chipped tooth is not a problem for “future you” — all you’re doing is prolonging your discomfort AND teaching your kids that it’s okay to let their dental care slide. Instead, model the behavior those little eyes need to see and get in to see your dentist as soon as possible when dealing with problems.
Similarly, it’s important that your kids see you following your dentist’s directions and keeping any follow-up appointments you have. You may think you know that your mouth is okay without a follow-up, but without keeping your appointment, you’re not really certain. “Okay enough” might sum up your attitude toward your own dental health, but you need to live up to the gold standard of care to really make an impression on your kids.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Your children might not want to admit that they’re learning habits by following your lead — younger children who desire independence and a sense of capability would balk at the suggestion, while older kids and teens who are under the impression that they know all they need to would be embarrassed. More effective than talking with your kids, lecturing them or teaching them what to do is showing them the way things are done — this applies to everything from chores to, yes, oral health.
Model the behavior you expect from your kids, and they’re less likely to hesitate or argue and more likely to just accept that oral health is of import and is worthy of their time, focus and dedication.
Are you ready to be the role model your child deserves? Book your next appointment now by calling the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur at 201-560-0606. Because you already have so much going on in your life, we’ve made it possible for you to book your appointment online via email. Simply click here to send us an email and show your kids how it’s done.