We have twin boys, aged 18 months. Neither of them allows us to brush his teeth. The older one's teeth are already starting to decay. We are giving them fluoride every day. What should we do?
Struggles about control are common and normal in the second year and this sounds like a control struggle. It's important to support the boys' growing sense of independence, but I'd be firm about issues that touch on health. If you're both firm and consistent about brushing and don't get into any discussion or negotiation about it, the boys will settle into this important routine. Let them be a part of it by doing something such as squeezing a little bit of toothpaste or choosing the colour of brush they use, but don't ever imply that they have a choice about brushing. The less discussion the better. Be firm on this one: bigger struggles are yet to come. Children feel more secure if they know that there are set limits that they can count on. Conversely, they feel anxious if the rules change or seem to be negotiable or if they feel that they have too much power in the situation.