We all imagine fatherhood in different ways: some of us are petrified, some of us overjoyed, and some of us remain uncomfortably numb until we actually see our children for the first time. Whatever your reaction was initially, you’re on the road to being a great dad. But there are a few jobs you probably didn’t expect, such as wrestling your little one to the ground and trying to brush their teeth every night. Each child reacts to things differently, and some children simply hate brushing their teeth. Here are some ways to make the process a little less traumatic for everyone involved.

Stay Calm

We’ve all sat amongst the immense carnage that can come from such a small person and wondered just how they did it. It’s especially bad if they’ve decided to have a tantrum. This is not an uncommon occurrence around bedtime, and you have probably felt like screaming right along with them. Instead, set up a simple routine with plenty of calming activities like reading or drawing without TV before bed time. Establishing a reward system could also be beneficial when introducing something new such as brushing teeth: you could buy a special toy that they’re only allowed to have once they’re into bed with clean teeth. This makes the child feel as if they’ve won something and that they are actually doing what they want.

Remember it’s not about you

When you’ve had a hard day at home or at work, it can be difficult to understand why your child seems to have little to no empathy towards your personal challenges. Children are inherently egocentric, it’s how we are all born, and empathy is learnt over time, mostly from you. Take the time to allow your child’s ramblings and wild stories remind you why you had a hard day: so they could have a good one. They don’t not care about you because they hate you, they just aren’t able to fully understand a world outside their own yet. Remember that getting creative with tooth brushing solutions is just another way to bond.

One day at a time

As with every new skill a child has to pick up, it will take patience. Perhaps some nights they won’t brush their teeth no matter what you do, and that’s ok. Just make sure that they do it as often as possible, and soon you won’t even have to remind them about it.