Can't even get him to brush his teeth! Am I totally ineffective as a parent?!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BellJar, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. BellJar

    BellJar New Member

    Sorry I feel like screaming and I just need to vent. Things with Poe have been up and down. This morning he refused to brush his teeth. AGAIN. He does this all the time; his teeth are probably rotten. Dental visit at the beginning of next year is sure to be so much fun. He's refusing to brush them because he doesn't like the type of toothpaste we have and his favorite kind fell on the floor and got stepped on so I threw it out.

    He already knows why he has to brush his teeth. He knows the consequences if he doesn't. He's been rewarded for brushing his teeth in the past. We've tried making him by doing it for him, but he's getting big enough and combative enough now that continuing down that road just means someone is going to get hurt. I got so mad I had to tell him to leave the bathroom and then I closed the door and took deep breaths before I started yelling at the top of my lungs at him. He decides he isn't going to do something and that's it - it isn't happening. So he's going to school today with bad breath and dirty teeth and it just looks like I don't take care of my child. *headdesk*

    Please, someone, tell me it's going to get better. :( What do you do when your child will not do basic functions like brush their teeth, get dressed, leave the house when you have to go to work and they have to go to school, etc?
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    If it will make you feel any better - we are still working on basics like brushing teeth, washing face, and changing underpants with my 16 year old.

    For whatever reason, hygiene issues seem to be common problems in these kids.

    I'm still waiting to find the solution over here. Numerous therapists have offered a variety of solutions - but so far....nothing works.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    My solution? Natural consequences. You don't brush your teeth there will be cavities that need to be filled. Much less pleasant than brushing your teeth.

    I'd remind him, then drop it. I'm sure there are more important issues to focus on and sometimes you just have to pick your battles. Is brushing his teeth important enough to have you this upset when it's obviously not having an impact on him even with consequences in place?

    DF is right, hygiene is a pretty common issue here. Travis went through years where getting him to bathe......well, was a nightmare, brushing his teeth was not a battle I was going to fight. Then when he reached a certain age, neither was bathing. I figured he'd get the idea eventually. And he did but it took a long time and a lot of negative feedback outside of the family unit. Now if we had to go somewhere special, he just didn't go unless he bathed properly.

    And I never found anything that worked either.
  4. BellJar

    BellJar New Member

    Thank you both; I am much calmer now. It's just so overwhelming sometimes to feel like I can't even accomplish the small things and I used to feel like I was the only mother in the world that couldn't even get her child to brush his teeth, or in Salinger's case, wear clean clothes every day.

    I will definitely take your advice, Hounddog. If I wind myself up and try to force him to do every single thing he doesn't want to do I will end up running screaming through traffic. And I am learning the hard way that I have to drop some of my expectations. My first instinct is to say he should have to brush his teeth with the other toothpaste and if I buy him the one he wants it's just giving in to his bad behavior. But what is that way of thinking going to cause me but a thousand more mornings like this? I will buy him the bleeping toothpaste :p and just enjoy one less battle to fight.
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I mostly gave up with Jett, too.

    Here's how this works: We pay for toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash and dental cleanings.

    He pays (from allowance, and of course after insurance) for cavities being filled. (Plus the pain, BWAHAHAHAHA...)

    And if they get too bad? Pull 'em.

    Of course, he has NO CAVITIES. Grrr.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have a different take on it. If you have read Ross Greene's "The Explosive child" you would know he has baskets A, B and C. You pick the battles you think are worth it and let the other ones slide.

    Now I think your son should brush his teeth. I also know, from having an Asperger's son who hates to brush his teeth or bathe, that there is no way to make them do it if they dig in their heels and decide not to. One thing I'd do, which I think is harmless, is buy more of the toothpaste that Poe likes. It's to me not a huge deal that it got dropped and stepped on and if it was my kid I'd rather he have the type of toothpaste he can tolerate than have him not brush his teeth. You may need to test Poe for part of the autism spectrum as they are very sensitive to tastes, textures, etc. and some of them DO rage a lot. Unfortunately, although this does not apply to all spectrum kids, but some just don't care about hygiene no matter how you explain the whys to them. My son who doesn't like to brush is currently working on getting twelve teeth filled and he hates it. Like somebody said, natural consequences. At eighteen, I can't force him to brush.

    On a more hopeful note, I adopted one child who had lived in an orphanage and had no dental care at all and probably was not forced to brush. He has never had a cavity in his life. A lot of that is genetic.

    Good luck and keep us posted on what happens. The hygiene bit is a battle I've fought long and hard, but, in the end, if Sonic chooses not to smell good, he will suffer natural consequences for that. We tried and tried and he still doesn't care. That's probably his biggest deficit...he doesn't seem to understand that others don't appreciate people who don't smell bad. Either that, or he doesn't care.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You can also offer alternatives to toothbrush... at least for now.

    Rubbing the teeth and gums, inside and outside, with a dry baby facecloth is better than no brushing at all.
    Make sure he is eating HARD cheeses ("real" swiss, cheddar, etc.), COLD and in chunks (sticks, not slices). Cheese rubbing against the teeth is also a cleaning impact.
    Peanuts have a similar effect... but can't take those to school.

    These were from travel tips I got when in HS (LONG time ago) for what to do when your baggage gets lost and its the middle of the night...
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Great ideas IC.

    Oh, and if he likes apples, let him have all he wants. I know the saying an apple a day..........but really it's more the dentist than doctor. As a kid I hated to brush, but I loved apples and I ate at least one a day. No cavities at all until my kidneys went to heck in my 20's but that had nothing to do with brushing or not brushing cuz in my late teens I most definitely brushed.
  9. jal

    jal Member

    How about replacing the toothpaste with the one he likes and a new toothbrush? My son is not on the spectrum, but brushing teeth was a battle when he was younger, now it gets done, but he rushes (and no cavities either). How about the battery operated toothbrushes or the ones that light up to show how long he should be brushing. Having a few different cool toothbrushes was fun for my son, now he tells me in the am, I'm going to brush my teeth!

    Actually, I am so used to telling him this am I called down the hall to remind him and he told me he already did. I almost didn't believe him, but husband vouched for him.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011


    wow... this seems to be very common with difficult children. Hygiene has always been an issue with Tommy. He's definitely gotten better with showers, but every night he asks me if he can skip his teeth. If I do let him, I make sure he drinks some water to at least get some of the sugar washed away. As far as when they simply REFUSE to do something...really, what can you do? I used to fight with him which led to huge explosions. A couple of weeks ago he refused to go to an appointment and refused to go in the car. He has refused to go on the plane to NY before, which is the night he had his first hospitalization because I saw the severity of all of this. I should be grateful to have a flexible schedule right now working for myself instead of working for a boss because between him refusing to do things and suspensions, I'd never be able to make it work. Your comment about the bleeping toothpaste made me smile because it's so true. So many people who have NO idea what we go through with our kids will perceive us as "giving in"'s really just trying to keep everything from totally imploding or exploding. I'd buy him the toothpaste in a minute...:)
  11. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    You could ask the Occupational Therapist (OT) or dentist for ideas. Once a dentist showed me how to brush a kids teeth who didn't want to. Of course my kids aren 't the worst ones here about that either.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Oh, I can relate, Belljar! My son always makes this big fuss about brushing his teeth - in the bad old days when things were constantly oppositional between us, he would often flat out refuse to do it and it would lead to this horrendous battle. Like you, I was (obviously) very insistent that he did it - I suppose he knew that and used it as a weapon. Now, however, he is always reluctant but will do it - that is to say, he does it perfunctorily and I do it more thoroughly. In the mornings after breakfast I'm afraid I just give him chewing gum, which does clean teeth. by the way, the experts all now recommend cheese rather than apple after a meal; apparently it does some kind of cleansing thing...
    I would be unable to let him go unbrushed, I think, fearing the dentist and cavities... but what do you do if an older child flat out refuses?? I am another voice for definitely buying the toothpaste he wants. Absolutely! All ports in a storm... Good luck. Which sounds like a rather vapid and meaningless sentiment. I wish I knew the answer!!
  13. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Do you have fluoridated water? Better to brush with that water than not brush at all until he gets his favorite toothpaste. Apples, hard cheeses, as was said, are good for helping clean teeth. Does he floss? That'll help a lot if he does. We had good luck using that Agent Blue stuff - it shows where kids need to brush.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm endorsing the "buy the flamin' toothpaste" direction.

    natural consequences are great, I recommend them all the time, but the kid won't see it as natural consequencves if tere is any way he can blame you (for not buying him the toothpaste he can use).

    if it gets lost/damaged again, then show him how he can dip his toothbrush in cooking salt and clean his teeth that way. Toothpaste is an option, not a necessity. Something gently abrasive (salt will dissolve rather than abrade too much) is actually in ingredient in most toothpastes.

    I think you can also use baking soda. Or a mix of salt and baking soda. Put a small amount in a little dish, dip the brush in the dish at teeth cleaning time, then discard the contents of the dish after use. That may be more than is needed, the concentrated salt should be utterly antibacterial anyway (think Egyptian mummies). Just make sure he rinses. You will know if he doesn't - he will get VERY thirsty!

    When difficult child 3 went on his food allergy/sensitivity diet, toothpaste was one of the items listed as problematic. That is when the diet suggested this alternative. Especially if peppermint (high in salicylates) is a sensitivity issue. And almost all toothpastes are flavoured with something, usually minty.

    We've had the toothpaste battles here, too. We managed to keep our kids' teeth in good order, but I just heard that difficult child 1 has lately been drinking lots of cola drinks, WITH caffeine. This also means with sugar, and he must have stopped cleaning his teeth now he no longer has me around to nag him. And he has a head full of cavities! Had to go renew his private health insurance to get his teeth attended to!

    Now THAT'S natural consequences! He can't blame me in any way for that. Can't blame anyone but himself.

  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    been there done that.
    My son hates to brush his teeth. Sometimes he'll use mouthwash, or mouthwash gum.

    My sister bought him an electric toothbrush, to make it fun, and occasionally he'll do that. All I can hope for is that he meets a girl who tells him he has bad breath. It's been working in regard to showers ... so far.

  16. keista

    keista New Member

    Nope. If you buy him what he wants he will engage in good behavior.

    Worst case scenario, plain water will do. If your tap water is not fluoridated, you can buy "nursery water". It's bottled with added fluoride.

    DD2, my supposedly normal child REFUSED toothpaste. I tried EVERY flavor available in stores. None suited her taste. I asked her what flavor she would like, and being a smart alec, she said chocolate. Guess what? I found chocolate toothpaste! Also, vanilla, coffee and all sorts of other flavors. She's still not a fan of brushing, but getting better, especially after the trauma of some serious dental work.

    Does he like gum? Try finding gum with XYLITOL. I know Trident has at least two varieties made with that. It is actually GOOD for teeth, helps recalcify or rebuild weakened enamel. Also whitened my kids' teeth right up.

    I'm waiting on the "cavity vaccine". They discovered years ago that most cavities are caused by a virus/bacteria organism. That's why some ppl with bad hygiene have decent teeth and others who are very diligent about their teeth still have issues. Heard/read about it about 10 or so years ago, but haven't heard anything since. :(
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh heavens I wish they had come out with that vaccine before all my teeth had to come out!

    I vote for giving him every bell and whistle that he will take that will get him to brush. If he likes Mr. Xmens mighty Chocolate toothpaste...go for it.

    We got Keyana strawberry toothpaste and a toothbrush that played music. She loved it. She would brush her teeth until the music stopped. I think it was programmed to play for as long as you are supposed to brush. The brush wasnt expensive either.
  18. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    been there done that ! Sad part is my difficult child has NEVER had a cavity ! All the luck ... My difficult child also "forgets" to apply deodorant so by the end of the day he smells like onions ... Ewww and sigh ...
  19. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    been there done that and still doing it. I've given up the battle with teeth and difficult child. For him it doesn't matter the type of toothpaste or brush. The dentist stopped playing Mr. Nice Guy and that doesn't even help. Of course, the fact that up until this point he has never had a cavity doesn't help. However, the dentist did mention he could use braces but not til he brushes his teeth on a regular basis. Guess he'll be getting them as an adult if ever!
  20. keista

    keista New Member

    OMG! DD1 too! Only she smells like rotting salami!