Good habits start early. Our Flower Mound dental team is big on helping children develop a strong foundation for skills and habits that will set them up for a lifetime of success. As parents, one of the best things we can do is read with our children and help them develop early literacy. That’s why I’m a big fan of a program from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that recommends the 3 Bs.
The “Brush, Book, Bed” program has a simple and clear message for parents and caregivers:
• Each night, help your children to brush their teeth.
• Read a favorite book.
• Get to bed at a regular time each night.
More than half of children will have experienced tooth decay before age five, with serious consequences. Primary teeth play a big role in development, even though they’re only around for a few years. In addition to their important role of chewing, they are important for proper jaw and bone development. Teeth affected by tooth decay can be sensitive, causing children to avoid healthy foods.
All young children need help brushing their teeth (with fluoride toothpaste) to make sure they are doing a good job.
Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imaginations and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word so that learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk. Even after children learn to read by themselves, it’s still important for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on their interest level but beyond their reading level, you can stretch kids’ understanding and motivate them to improve their skills.
Children who have irregular bedtimes are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. Inconsistent sleeping hours affects kids just like jet lag, resulting in emotional instability, acting out, and reduced cognitive performance. However, achieving this consistency is easier said than done. The good news is that after investing the initial effort to establish regular bed and wake times, your child’s body clock will automatically align with the regular schedule.
If you have a predictable nighttime routine, children can understand and learn to expect what comes next. Additionally, routines may ease the stress that some families experience at nighttime.
Habits like the 3 Bs will help your children stay on a path toward health, happiness, and success in school.