Special Time helps with toothbrushing
author By Emilie Leeks,


Our youngest child (who was not quite 3 when this was written) does not come willingly to do his teeth! After lots of work in this area, using all the Hand in Hand Parenting tools, he'll usually now come and have them done, but very reluctantly, and you can only get a relatively short bit of brushing done before he starts to get bothered by it. This is big progress from before though, when he wouldn't come to the sink at all, and would clamp his mouth tight shut, or cry so so hard, whenever we showed him the toothbrush!

In his Special Time one day, he found some of the medical kit toys and the home roleplay toys we have lying around, and he decided he would use those (like the little mouth mirror, and the dolls' toothbrushes) to have a go at cleaning my teeth. I saw this as a good opportunity to have a bit of fun, if he seemed to want to go with that (and I know from past experience that he enjoys these sorts of games, so I thought I'd try it), so I clamped my mouth shut and muttered out of the corner that I didn't want my teeth cleaned, that I don't like having my teeth cleaned, that I was not going to let him! He smiled and giggled a bit, and told me that he was going to do it, and that I had to open my mouth just a little bit. I tossed and turned a bit, and said 'mm-mm' (meaning no), and he giggled some more. Then I just let him clean a little bit but got mock upset about it each time - which he thought was just great!

When I eventually let him clean my teeth 'properly' (with a nail brush!!), he said I wasn't to worry, he was going to do it very gently (which he did). Then when he next had to have his teeth cleaned that evening, he came to the sink quite happily and was not bothered at all by having his teeth brushed!

This kind of play is an example of the transformative Hand in Hand Parenting tool called Playlistening. Playlistening is such a brilliant way to get more fun, laughter and cooperation into parenting, and has completely changed our family life for the better - we aim to follow the child's laughter, and to let them take the more powerful role, and this helps them to work through any fears and frustrations they might be carrying. It also helps with building a strong connection between parent and child. Give it a try - you won't be disappointed!

A word or two about Journeys in Parenting; a responsive parenting community

Emilie is a Hand in Hand Parenting instructor, and was a paediatric speech and language therapist in her former life. She provides support and coaching for parents via the Journeys in Parenting community. Emilie lives in Berkshire in the UK with her husband and 3 children.

Journeys in Parenting is a community group for parents, carers and parents-to-be, who want to find out more about parenting in a responsive and peaceful way. The community offers information, advice and emotional support for this hard work we do as parents. The vision of the group is to be a safe space, where parents are supported in guiding their families in ways which: are respectful to children; meet the parents' needs; and lead to a more peaceful planet for all.

To work one-to-one with Emilie , request a free 15-minute trial call here or visit the website for more details

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