Special Time Helps with Teethbrushing

Photo (C) Kadri Poldma 2006

My children and I do regular Special Time most days for at least three minutes.  Sometimes they choose to work on their challenges during Special Time. Once my three-year-old son tackled his challenge of teeth brushing.

He didn't like brushing his teeth very much and barely let me brush either his upper or lower teeth. One day, he wanted to brush my teeth during Special Time.  “Okay,” I said helplessly.  Then he scooped a lot of xylitol with someone's toothbrush, stuck it in my lopsided mouth, and brushed inside of my mouth in a three-year-old way.

My face was covered with saliva and my shirt was drooled on.  I groaned and moaned, and my son was laughing. Whenever I caught a break from his rigorous brushing, I begged, “no more!” in vain.  He would put more rigor into his brushing laughing and really enjoying this role reversal.  It continued for most of our ten-minute Special Time.

Later, I noticed he was gradually more relaxed about teeth brushing.  That night, he let me brush both upper and lower teeth.  After a couple of months now, teeth brushing is no longer an issue.

—Keiko Sato-Perry, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor

Keiko Sato-Perry

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2 thoughts on “Special Time Helps with Teethbrushing”

  1. wow it’s great to hear about 3 minute special time! that kind of bite-size approach makes it seem much more doable, but i’m curious what can you actually do in 3 minutes? seems like almost any activity with a kid takes nearly that long to really get into. can kids find a way to use that little bit of time well? although out of desperation my son and i came up with “four minutes to fight” and he treasures those 4 minutes!

  2. Hi Inja, do share more about “4 minutes to fight” – you have my curiosity!

    Here’s how short special times have worked for us. If I offer a 5 min special time my daughter knows it’s not enough time to get into an involved activity so we mainly connect over a game she makes up like playing “scared-y cat”. Right now she likes me to pretend to sleep and have bad dreams (where I talk out loud and wave my arms about) Then she wakes me up giggling and we repeat for 5 minutes.

    I’ve also used the short special time for her to do things she wants to do, but I’m not okay with, like throwing food. I’ve set the timer for 2 minutes and brought out some food for her to dump onto the floor and then I cheer her on for two minutes as she spills small amounts of juice and yogurt and cereal, etc on the floor. This really helped her not throw food at other times. And helped me get over some of my negative feelings about throwing food. (Special Time allowed me to just watch her in a delighted way and see the joy she had in throwing/dumping food on the floor without me feeling anxious about clean up and stuff.)

    Short special times could be great for helping with “potty” language by offering the child a couple minutes to say whatever they want. Or a short special time before homework for an older child. Sometimes a child will need a little direction/guidance in coming up with ideas for the short time, but I think ultimately they will use that time well. We just need to remember special time is about delighting in and really giving our full attention to our child more than what we “do”

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