Friday, November 4, 2011

SUZI: Toothbrush Chart

Just after we moved into our new house (Cooper was just over a year old) I made a chart for Cooper for when we brush his teeth.  He gets to choose a sticker, and we put it on the chart.  It all started because I had a horrible time trying to brush his teeth.  He hated it and would clench his teeth so I could barely even get the brush in.  Great weeping and despair would follow.  I figured there would be no way he could actually correlate the stickers with the brushing, but I was desperate and figured I had to try something.  The first time we used the chart was in the evening.  The following morning, without any prompting from me, Cooper reached onto his shelf, got his toothbrush and tootled over to me with it.  He then turned and pointed to the door where the chart was.  I was floored.  And thankful.

The brushing has been much better than it was in the beginning, though I will admit that the novelty of the stickers has worn off some.  We try to rotate different kinds of stickers to try to make things a little more exciting –animal ones, sparkly ones and even some homemade ones (thanks to Cooper’s cousin Maddy).  We sing teeth brushing songs (that are loud and obnoxious and that I make up on the spot).  We “count” Cooper’s teeth with his toothbrush, and we say silly things like “Aaauuuggie Aaaalligaaaator likes to brush his teeth.”  Yeah…you have to open your mouth to say it!  Some nights Cooper just stares at me like, “What are you doing?  And why do you keep singing those songs?” But usually a reminder about the sticker and he’ll at least crack his mouth open.

Now, if you know me at all, you can understand that I made a nice, neat chart to hang on the door.  It says “I LOVE CLEAN TEETH” across the top and then thirty nice, neat squares underneath.  We would put one sticker in each box – nice and orderly.  When the boxes were full, I’d print out another chart and we’d start again.  Except I started letting Cooper put the stickers on himself.  I’d direct his little hand to the next square and help him put his sticker on.  And then one night, Cooper moved that little hand and wanted to put his sticker in a box at the end of the chart.  What to do?  Clearly he was completely messing up my process.  (Please tell me you sense my irony here.)  It wasn’t the “right” box!  It wasn’t the next one in line.  But, OK, I relented.  And then the next night, Cooper just went all wild and crazy and wanted to put the sticker next to another sticker way at the top of the chart.  I was trying to get him to put the sticker in the “correct” box when I realized that I was being ludicrous!  Little Miss Everything-Has-To-Go-In-This-Nice-Linear-Fashion realized that it doesn’t really matter where the sticker goes.  Cooper just loves to put the stickers on himself.  Now we have a lovely collage of all kinds of stickers – overlapping, hodge-podged, happy little stickers.  He’s happy and so am I.

Thank goodness for little people who remind you that there are different ways to do things.  

I think I should get a sticker for reminding myself of that.

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