It’s no secret I hate brushing my kids’ teeth.
On top of all the other traumas associated with this nighttime ritual, we now have issues with toothpaste. I am tired of purchasing expensive, okay-to-swallow kid toothpaste, only to watch my son suck it out of the tube like it’s a Freezie.
To rectify this problem, I suggest adult toothpaste. William freaks.
“I don’t want to die, Mom!” he says. Evidently, my exaggerated warning from a couple of years ago has stuck with him. I didn’t want him slurping our tube of toothpaste, so I may have insinuated he could become very ill (i.e. croak) if he swallowed it.
The other day, when we were grocery shopping, I purchased a different tube of kids’ toothpaste: a slightly bigger one that’s cheaper and still fluoride free. I’ll call this Option A.
Fast forward to bedtime.
Vivian and William began brushing their teeth, and within seconds, they were gagging. Both twins proceeded to spit most of the paste/drool mixture onto the floor and counter. Some may have hit the sink.
So last night, I told them they were going to use adult toothpaste, Option B. I reassured them that they wouldn’t die, even if they swallowed a bit. They started brushing, and within seconds, they sounded like two cats coughing up hairballs.
“It’s horrible!” William said, foaming at the mouth.
“It’s peppermint!” Vivian gasped, equally aghast. Suffice it to say that mint is not the flavour-of-the-month around here.
After they gagged it out, I reintroduced last night’s toothpaste. Suddenly, Option A, the cheaper kids’ paste, didn’t seem so bad.
Here, then, is the parenting tip I’ve learned from this: If your kids hate Thing A, introduce something worse as Thing B. Suddenly, the first option is much more palatable.
Once again, the illusion of choice as a form of coercion.