Routines are easy to follow because you don’t have to exercise self-control each time you need to do it or think about it: it is always happening, for example, after dinner.
Routines give children a sense of security and predictability and help them develop self-discipline. What is more surprising is that predictability often leads to cooperation.
I want to share a few quotes from Janet Gonzales-Mena’s article, “How to Get Infants and Toddlers to Cooperate: A Simple But Effective Approach”
“If you start from the beginning making caregiving routines predictable, babies begin to anticipate what will happen and that allows them to cooperate early on.”
Involvement on the infant’s part makes the baby a team member with the parents rather than an object that is cared for by the parents. Predictability has a strong connection with cooperation. “Most people don’t aim for cooperation until the baby is much older.” Instead, adults tend to treat children as dolls that have no clue what is going on and who do not need explanations of the adults’ actions. Parents are often very surprised when babies start to display their disagreement with their parents’ actions and cease to cooperate. When Janet Gonzales-Mena observed at the Pikler Institute, she clearly saw “that cooperative babies grow into cooperative toddlers.”
I encourage you to look at your day and decide what kind of routines you need and how you can establish them.
Teeth Brushing Routine with Babies
1. Let your child know
Let your child know ahead of time: “Soon I am thinking about brushing my teeth and yours.”
2. Go slowly
Let your child know it is time to brush his teeth. Pick him up slowly. Slowly walk to the bathroom. This will give him time to process.
3. Show your child the brush and toothpaste
Again by showing the tools, you give your baby an extra opportunity to process and anticipate.
4. Brush your teeth
Modeling always works great. Also, talk briefly about why you are brushing your teeth, “I want my teeth to be clean and healthy.”
5. Involve your child in the process
If he wants, let him hold his own brush. Allow for some playful exploration.
6. Brush his teeth
Make sure it is a pleasant experience. Sometimes it is worth not going into deep cleaning right away while you are still establishing a routine.
Remember that it is more than just getting teeth clean – it is about healthy habits for a lifetime and cooperation in your family.
Wishing you all the best in this difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!