Kids are the greatest thing on earth. From their intoxicating giggles to their ever-so-charming mispronounced words, such as: (“I want a happy meal from MacDongals”). Children are the greatest blessing in the world.

Now, having said that… they are also extremely stubborn when it comes to overall hygiene. A sticky-muddy kid can snooze in their own candy-coated slime for days upon days. But as parents (and adults) we have the responsibility to teach our kids good habits that will follow them throughout their lives.

Having a great set of straight-pearly-white teeth is not always something that genetics hands out all willy-nilly. But paying attention to oral health at a young age can be rewarding in the long run. Think of it as getting good grades through high school. You encourage your kids to get good grades and try to let them know how the significance it will have on the rest of their lives, but college is not something that most teens are thinking of. They are worried about whether or not their “perfect” prom date will say yes, or if they will take first place in the regional dance competition.

This is where the “adult” part of oral hygiene steps in. Kids are not often all that enthusiastic about brushing their teeth, but there are some “kid friendly” ways to make what might be something they don’t want to do into a lifelong and healthy habit that will turn a chore into incredible oral hygiene, which they will be thankful for later in life. Their glorious-adult smiles will pay tribute to your hard work and parenting skills during their younger years.

So how do you make the task of oral hygiene fun for kids?

Here are some kid-friendly tips that can help you successfully teach your kids the importance of oral hygiene:

#1 – Make it Fun

Kids are not worried about the politics of the world or whether their neighbor is recycling all of those Saturday night bottles of suds, they are interested in happiness at its purest. They want to wake up and know that the day brings new hours of pure fun. By making the daily routine of brushing their teeth “fun” you can keep them interested and build healthy oral habits.

Brushing your teeth should be done at a 2 minute minimum, so letting your kids choose one of their favorite (2 minute-ish) songs to brush to can turn humdrum brushing into a fun game. Once the song stops, they know that they have given their teeth the appropriate amount of scrubbing time. This rule-of-thumb also applies to adults. Two minutes is the minimum amount of time that you should be spending on polishing your grill.

#2 Set Goals and Give Rewards

Giving your kids a chance to reach daily and weekly goals, with the promise of reward, will give them incentive to brush and floss. Start with a goal chart and each time they reach their goals for the week you can reward them with fun things like little toys, tv and game time, or a trip to the theater to see a new movie.

#3 Make it a Family Affair

Kids are the most observant things on this planet. They are like sponges when it comes to watching and embracing the actions of their parents, siblings, and peers. This means that they are paying attention to your own dental habits. Make sure that your children see you brush and floss, so that they know it is a “do as I do” situation. You can even make it fun for them and have morning or evening family brushing time. You can see who can make the most foam bubbles and give stickers to the winner in the family.

If you always try to think like a child you are sure to do right. Peter Pan was on to something because the mind and mentality of a child is like nothing else. Turning something, such as dental hygiene, which may not be the funnest thing a child can imagine, into something they look forward to doing each day doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. Keep it simple, keep it fun, and keep at it, because good oral-health habits start young.