Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sing-along, Brush-along Songs

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


SchmoopyBoy does not like getting his teeth brushed at bedtime (or any other time, really). Tooth brushing has been a struggle pretty much since we first started brushing his teeth. He is the king of holding his hand over his mouth with his lips tightly fused together. I’ve tried reasoning with him about the dangers of cavities. I’m pretty sure all he hears is “wah wah wah.” Have I been tempted to just pry his hand away and use my physical strength to overpower him and force my way into his mouth on a particularly tiring and frustrating day? I’d be lying if I denied it. Yet using my superior physical strength to impose my will over his body feels very wrong. I think it teaches him a dangerous and destructive lesson that using violence and physical force over a smaller, weaker person and forcing them to do what you want is ok. Not to mention how NOT conducive to a peaceful, relaxing bedtime it is to engage in a physical struggle with a screaming, flailing, 30 pound octopus of a three year old.

So how do I get him to willingly open his mouth? One major tool I don’t hesitate to bring out is music and song. I am all about making up alternative lyrics to popular (or not so popular) songs, and singing them in funny voices with lots of melodrama and silly vibrato. If you think this idea might work for you and your child, here are a couple ideas for a variety of musical preferences.

For the classic rock lover, sung to tune of Queen’s We are the Champions:

I’ve got a toothbrush, my schmoo-oooo
And I’ll keep on brushing every tooth
I’ve got a toothbrush, I’ve got a toothbrush,
No time for cavities, so I’ll keep on brushing…
‘till they’re clean!

For the pop music fan, sung to tune of Madonna’s Music, Hey Mr. DJ:

Hey Mr. Toothbrush
How are you today?
Come on and brush my teeth now.
‘Cause when the toothpaste’s on,
I never want to stop
You know it is so yummy.
Hey there! Mr. Toothbrush!
Brush my tee-eeth! Yeah!
Hey there! Mr. Toothbrush!
Brush my tee-eeth! Yeah!

For the Star Wars fan, sung to the tune of the Imperial March (aka Darth Vadar’s theme):

Brush brush brush
Brush your teeth, brush your teeth
Brush brush brush
Brush your teeth, brush your teeth
Brushie-brush, brush, brush, yeah
Brushie-brush, brush, brush.
Brush brush brush
Brush your teeth, brush your teeth

The lyrics of this are simple and boring enough that silly voices/faces and gratuitous over-the-top vibrato (think of an Ethel Merman caricature or Goofy from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) are a good mix for this choice.

Really, the possibilities are endless. Any tune I get stuck in my head is fair game for being turned into a tooth brushing song. If I can’t think of any appropriate lyrics on the fly, I just substitute the word “brush” or “toothbrush” or “brushie” for the usual “la la” or “doo doo doo” that most people hum to themselves.

The benefits of a playful approach to brushing teeth are numerous. First, the obvious – teeth are successfully and adequately cleaned. Second, the child is either smiling and giggling at the end, or at the very least isn’t having a melt-down and no one is hurt in the process. Third, on those rough “I’m so done you could stick a fork in me” days, you might even find yourself in a better head space – such is the power of play and laughter.

Happy brushing!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.

  • Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.

  • Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.

  • Say Please — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by "play," showing that actions speak louder than words.

  • No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.

  • I'll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.

  • A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.

  • Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn't always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.

  • Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.

  • A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.

  • The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.

  • The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.

  • Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.

  • I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.

  • Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.

  • Playful Parenting = Extra Energy??Momma Jorje didn't think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…

  • Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.

  • Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son's well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.

  • Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.

  • Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.

  • Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.


  1. You are so creative :) I remember once when I was trying to think of songs to sing Kieran (he was probably a year old at the time), Tom said - Dionna, he doesn't care *what* you sing, just make up words to music you know! So true - it's all in the attitude!

  2. LOL! I love your lyrics! I'm going to hve to come up with a few for cleaning up toys. While my little guy loves brushing his teeth (we have to fight to get him to stop), he hates cleaning up. But I do know what you're dealing with - my oldest hated brushing. I think that one of the toothpaste companies has a kids site where you can track when teeth get brushed and, after a certain amount of time, if it gets done regularly, they'll send a free toothbrush. Might work be a nice incentive?

  3. You ROCK!!!!! Seriously, I can't believe how much I love your songs. Especially the tooth brushing one. I love everything about this post. I'm so glad this Carnival brought me to your bloggy world.
    Fantastic!! I have to tell my husband.
    Did I say, You Rock! It bears repeating.

  4. Those are so much FUN! I will definitely be using this technique, since Daniel doesn't enjoy teeth brushing time either. Thank you!

  5. Tooth brushing is an event here too! We've recently discovered that if we pretend that our friends, pets and grandparents are stuck inside ds's teeth and that we need to rescue them with the toothbrush he'll open wide and cooperate. The things we do for our kids,eh?! Love it!

  6. These are AWESOME. I totally am going to try this, and really with any power struggles. P.S. You've got "We Are the Champions" stuck in my head now. Good for you.

  7. Children are all about playing and singing, so integrating games while they're brushing would be a fun way for them to it. You can sing to them and replace pop song lyrics with toothbrush lyrics. That will definitely encourage them to take care of their teeth.

  8. It is really difficult to brush the teeth of a three year baby and it is difficult. My baby and I don t want to brush my teeth. He has to brush his teeth with various temptations like many kinds of toys handed over.
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    Walker reviews!here