Brushing my daughter's teeth has been a fight ever since they first cut. Sometimes I would have to tackle her down, other times I would give up and just let her suck the toothpaste off the brush. Other parents have admitted the same struggles. However the last few days, I've stumbled upon a remarkable discovery. After hearing her every attempted distraction tactic ("potty!" "milk!" "bed!") I tell her, "If you want to eat cookies, you have to brush your teeth." Like magic, she opens her mouth and allows me to do my job.
As with most parenting, it takes me a while to remember what it was like to be a kid on the receiving end of instructions. I should have remembered long ago that I was the Queen of Why. Why do I have to do that? Why don't we do it differently? Why is the sky blue? On and on. The story goes that my parents would get tired of explaining endless things to me and would eventually call up my grandma to field questions. Or they'd tell me, "You'll understand when you get older." I should have suspected that explaining to my daughter the reason why we brush our teeth would make it less painful.
Of course, up until recently, she did not comprehend enough language for me to explain things. Of all the stages of development, I think the 18-month mark is my favorite so far. She is saying new things all the time and she can communicate her needs and even her interests with us now. One of her main interests at the moment (food-wise) is cookies. Therefore, explaining to her that if she wants to continue eating cookies, she must brush her teeth, makes a lot of sense to her and makes me a happier parent.