The 7 Habits of Highly Affectable People.

Why do you take care of your teeth, Luka?

1. You do it because it is one more way to stall your bedtime.
2. You do it because Phineas and Ferb do it, therefore it is cool.
3. You do it because if you don't, Lego Indiana Jones and the Wii controller will never see the light of day.
4. You do it because it's blue. And blue is your favorite color.
5. You do it because it involves spitting. On yourself and others.
6. You do it because you are a junior champion of oral health care and teeth are your raison d'ĂȘtre.
6. You do it because the dentist gives you a sticker.
7. You do it because mommy said so. Or else.

It's been a whole month since my family started the Listerine Oral Care Challenge. It was Luka we were particularly concerned with. He's not exactly a rule-follower. Non-compliance is his middle name. He is however, under certain circumstances and with the right motivation and presentation, affectable.

I was once in a thinker's workshop with Joey Reiman of Brighthouse. Joey thinks for a living. A profession I aspire to. He told me that a habit can be formed after 19 repetitions of an action. 19. How magically random! I immediately thought "flossing" as I'm sure everyone in that room did. Little did I know that 15 years later, his theory would be put into practice. On a 5-yr-old.

19 times did it. And actually, to be honest, I think we had Luka hooked on day 2. Not once this month has he missed his nightly brushing and rinsing with Listerine SmartRinse. Not once. I on the other hand think I missed flossing a couple of times. I blame sleep deprivation. Also blamed on sleep deprivation, I made peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches for sack lunches accidentally twice this month.

When one is aspiring to create a habit, it's all about finding the right motivation. Which button to push. For me, the mental picture of myself as an 80-yr-old with no teeth makes me shudder. And then floss immediately. For a kid like Luka, it's not about teeth per se, it's about the fact that blue is awesome. And spitting is even more awesome. Healthy habits can be formed with SPIN. And that's ok.

Whether it's daily flossing, brushing, and rinsing, or getting that teenager to pick up his shoes so you stop tripping over's all a matter of finding the proper motivation for starting and continuing actions until they become habits. Healthy Habits for a Lifetime can help, at least with the flossing, brushing, and rinsing part:
• Schedule your child's first dental check-up as soon as the first tooth appears.
• Let your kids see YOU floss, brush, and rinse. Monkey see monkey do.
• Give kids the chance to pick the brush and rinse they want. When they choose it, they are more likely to use it.
• Reward good choices and behavior with a sticker chart and encouraging words. "Wow, you are such a smart guy to take care of your teeth like that." or even "Dude, you are a champion spitter." can go a long way to motivating your child.
And, "Do it because I said so" works in a pinch.

Mommy's Wish List Disclosure: I was selected by Listerine, Reach, and Walmart to participate in this program thru The Motherhood. While I have been compensated for my participation in The Oral Care Challenge, my opinions are my own.

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