If you can’t stop it, change it

My nine year old won’t brush his teeth at night unless an adult stands there and watches him put the toothbrush in his mouth and turn it on. He’ll promise over and over that he’s going to brush, and then an hour later he’ll be asleep in his bed and the toothbrush is bone dry.

This was a daily frustration of mine for years. It drove me freaking crazy. Just brush your stupid teeth! We tried rewards, punishment, threats, bribes, pleading, explaining the reasons complete with Google images of cavities, all of it. It just didn’t happen unless I stood there and watched.

So finally I gave up and decided to lean into it. It used to be a battle of avoidance; I was trying to avoid going upstairs and making him brush. Now it’s (radical?) acceptance; I go upstairs to say goodnight (hello, year of connection) and oh, while I’m up there, let’s get his teeth brushed. Same result without the yelling from the bottom of the stairs.

What’s making you bang your head against the wall these days? Could it be time to give up on fixing it, and find a way to lean into it?

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