Is this punishment fair for my teen son not brushing his teeth in the morning?

[deleted account] ( 193 moms have responded )

So, my 14 year old son leaves the house at 7:30 everyday for the bus and I'm up around 8AM. I was getting up with him, but he got to where he was relying on me to wake him up everyday, which made him late for the bus, so I had to force him to start waking up on his own. The way for me to do that was to just stop getting up with him in the mornings, and it's worked!

However he forgets to brush his teeth on most days, and you all know how dental bills can get expensive! I had told him if he didn't brush his teeth (I just feel his toothbrush to see if it's wet), he would lose his phone privileges for the day, and Xbox time would be shortened.

Do you think that's fair or am I being to harsh? I know we sometimes have to teach our kids "tough love", but I honestly have no problem taking away electronics that are important to him if he can't follow the rules. Like I said, dental bills can get expensive and he's not the one paying for them.

Has anyone else faced a similar issue?

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Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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So what is to stop him just wetting his toothbrush? Honestly, I agree, you can't force it. Certainly, discuss it with him. Make it clear that if he has to have dental work done as a result, HE can pay for it or something, but there is nothing logical about banning phone privileges or Xbox for not cleaning your teeth.

I must ask, however, how is YOU sleeping in helping him get up on his own in the morning? My son is 14 and manages to get himself up every morning without my help, but I still get up before he leaves. You know, you can still get up and not wake him, you are still forcing him to wake on his own. There's always the option of getting up while he is still at home and reminding him if it's that important to you. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't interfere with him getting himself up in the morning.

Janice - posted on 05/14/2012

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I'm a grandma so I might have a different take on things. My kids are in their 20's and 30's and one of the most important things I've learned is don't sweat the little stuff or chose your battles carefully. I would forget the toothbrush thing, get up in the morning to give your kids a hug and a prayer before they go off to school (They need it) and never take someone to school unless there is a legitimate reason. Kids can walk and explain to the office why they are late (it will only happen once). Let your son know that if there are extra dental bills because of his neglect, he has to pay for it. The $bill$ is too high, he can mow the lawn, etc to pay you back. He will eventually want a clean mouth and white teeth. Save the 'taking away electronics' for other things that have more of a connection like grades are slipping, daily chores not getting done, etc. That is my 2 cents worth :D Most important: make your children feel important and LOVED.

Krista - posted on 05/14/2012

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Show him pictures of rotting, gingivitis-riddled mouths, and say to him, "So, would you ever want to kiss a mouth that looked like that? No? 'Cause if you don't brush your teeth, that's what your mouth is going to look like pretty darned soon, and good luck finding someone who'd want to be within 10 feet of your nasty, stank-assed mouth."

[deleted account]

I think most of you are right. Girls are starting to become the center of attention, and someone eventually will tell him his breath stinks. Up until a month ago, I did wake up with him everyday, but when his alarm went off again and again, and he knew he could catch an extra 1/2 hour of sleep and mom would just take him to school, it was clear he started to take advantage of the situation. So things changed, and I don't feel bad about it.

Taking away the very things that kids love is what teaches them the lessons. If they don't want to do without their precious Iphone for a few hours, then simply brush your teeth! It's not like he's grounded for a week or anything, and the very next day, those teeth will be brushed for sure.

Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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"he knew he could catch an extra 1/2 hour of sleep and mom would just take him to school"

Ah, see, this isn't about you getting up. This is about you taking him if he misses his bus. You can still choose not to take him. Just make it clear you won't!! My son has never missed his bus in 4 years. Almost, but not quite. Why? Because I made it very clear to him that I would get him to school when I got him there, generally it would be late, and I would refuse to give him a late note (which at his school, attracts a detention).

"Taking away the very things that kids love is what teaches them the lessons. If they don't want to do without their precious Iphone for a few hours, then simply brush your teeth!"

And what life lesson is this teaching? That if you don't brush your teeth, you lose your iPhone? You don't think perhaps some logical or natural consequences are a better life lesson? That he needs to clean his teeth because it is the healthy and hygienic thing to do?

Seriously, you came here looking for advice. You asked "Do you think that's fair or am I being to harsh?". But that's not REALLY what you are asking is it? You are asking for people to tell you that you are right. Sorry, but I don't think you are. I think the ONLY thing you are teaching him is that if he doesn't clean his teeth, you take his iPhone. I wonder if that will work for you when he is 18?

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Glenda - posted on 06/09/2012

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Kristi- no need to apologize.
You expressed yourself; and as we see throughout this entire forum that perception is a motha-@#*. I read your post at about 4am when I woke up to use the bathroom. I'm sure I played a part in the communication jumble..... I most definately WAS speaking up for Ashley--- she posted because she wanted opionions and I'm sure she knows that to her, some of those will be like butts--stinky. None of us should be judging anyone. Truth be told, we don't know what's going on behind their closed doors---Ashley was generous enough to share her experience. Some of the stuff I've gone through is outright embarrassing and I tell it only to God.....
I appreciate your explanation.................It's obvious I don't need to read for a clear understanding in the wee hours of the morning.

Kristi - posted on 06/09/2012

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First of all Glenda...it was a compliment because I thought you were sticking up for Ashley. I wasn't asking you to LITERALLY go from thread to thread asking people to be nice. I said that because I found it refreshing to see somebody who was honest without being judgemental. So I'm sorry I offened you by making, what I thought to be a silly compliment to a post I respected.

Abortion doesn't have anything to do with it....I said why do some people have to be mean when they disagree over simple stuff....not wanting to insinuate that Ashley's problem was simple as easy I wrote not easy, simple teeth vs. abortion simple MEANING, that Ashley's topic was simple compared to the topic of abortion....again, I thought I was in accordance with Glenda about people being rude, mean whatever over stuff like this.

It is obvious I need to figure out how to speak/read TEXT, if I can't even compliment someone with a silly rhetorical question but then I read that not only was I uncomplimentory but I almost turned an oral hygiene discussion into an abortion debate because I was trying avoid possibly offending someone because it might sound like I was implying their situation was easy. Yup, you offend if you do, you offend if you don't, well I do. I'm really sorry.

Glenda - posted on 06/09/2012

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Kristi C.--
No I will not go thread to thread fighting condescension and judgement-- it's not my place. Please explain-- what does abotion have to do with any of this??? And to answer your second question "people don't have to mean when they disagree." From what I was reading I thought some of the comments were rude-- maybe they were meant to be mean and maybe they weren't. Ashley voiced her say regarding those. I posted my comment from my point of view, not to "fight" the validity of other comments. Ashley is the one dealing with her particular situation--no matter what any of us say, at the end of the day it's still her issue. That being said, she should do what works for her in her home with that particular child. I don't think it's harsh, but some do-- oh well-- we all have our opinions.

Fighting condescension judgement-- who are we to judge? Like I told Ashley, I got lots of comments about how I handle my kids--- just imagine how I felt because I didn't ask for anyones opinion. My point of view for MY actions????--- I have to suffer the consequences of bad and get to reap the benefits of good---

Again, what's does abortion have to do with this? I don't consider that decision easy or simple.....

Jodi - posted on 06/09/2012

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Can I ask what on earth this has to do with abortion???? You totally lost me there.

Kristi - posted on 06/08/2012

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Glenda--

Will you go thread to thread fighting condescension and judgement? Why do some people have to be so mean when they disagree over simple stuff. Not easy, simple. teeth vs abortion, simple

Margaret - posted on 06/08/2012

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Yes, I have had a similar experience and we are definitely paying for it now! My oldest son, now 17, defied us as much as he could about brushing his teeth when he had braces. He ended up getting his braces off early because of decay. As it turns out, his teeth are very soft, heredity for both sets of grandparents, and even with dental insurance, we've spent more than $2500 to fill his never ending cavities and to get veneers for those teeth that just won't hold a filling anymore. He has to rinse daily with flouride as well as use prescription strength flouride toothpaste that costs $20 a tube. So, in my opinion, losing his cell phone/XBox/other privileges is not too severe at all! I would even go as far as, if his toothbrush was not used one morning, to go to his school with his toothbrush and toothpaste in hand and pull him out of class to brush. This is the logical consequence for not taking on this important morning ritual and if it happens to cause him some embarrassment with his friends, so be it. When my side jobs have to go to pay for dental work rather than a family vacation, doing whatever you can to get them to brush is imperative. Good luck and stay strong, sometimes parenting means being the bad guy but it's worth it in the end! :)

Dawn - posted on 06/07/2012

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My friend did a great thing with her pre teen son. She started holding back a portion of his allowance each week for 6 mos. (the appropriate amount to pay for one cavity). She told him that if he had a cavity at the next appointment then he would pay for it with that money and if he didn't have a cavity then she would give him the money. It became his responsibility to keep his mouth clean. This is a very Love and Logic way to handle the situation. I would suggest that anyone who wants to learn this method should go to the Love and Logic website. Happy Parenting All.

Glenda - posted on 06/07/2012

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Wow Wow-- Really? Ashley, you know what works for your household.... it doesn't matter what anyone understands or thinks. You did ask the question "fair or harsh" and I see that you've gotten answers all across the board--- some agree with you and some didn't. While I think you expected that, I'm sure you could've done without some of the comments. Do what you feel is best for your home. Everybody else will be A-Okay. You're the one who has to deal with that situation in your home. If you're making a bad decision, like your son, you'll have to suffer the consequences--- but on the other hand, it it works for you--- DO YOU and reap the benefits. I've got a 22, 19, 18, 13, 8 and 6 year old and I've had to treat them all differently, but equal. They all respond to things differently, and I cannot punish them all the same way---- kids are kids and kids need to be loved, taught, disciplined, punished--- all these should be done lovingly. (I'm not saying that you're not being loving, I'm just saying.....)

I know that you're not misery loving company, but I've been "talked to" about the way I "handle" my crew several times. I go through a series of emotions, through many prayers, then I pick myself up, dust off the unwant and move forward the best way I know/feel how.

Jo - posted on 06/02/2012

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def fair im like that with my son and he is 11 i start waking him up at 7am and he is still getting dressed at 8am i have a two yr old and a 6month old to get ready my 2 yr old gets ready quicker than him. I have to leave at 830am and he is still doing his hair!!!!! very annoying same arguements every morning it seems routine now. I told him when he goes to college he is getting himself up and if he misses the bus it will be his fault. Its boys i think cause my brothers were like it. So you are def not alone with this. I take computer privelidges away as well he hasnt played it for weeks. I find he is worse when he does play it. From your post i have now realised its gonna be like this for a while haha.

Melissa - posted on 06/01/2012

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Sarah - Great idea! For me, the mornings are tough because my son leaves 1-1/2 hours after me, but if I brush with him in the evening before bed and even after dinner, it may help! When he was younger he loved ToothTunes tooth brushes. I'm not sure if they still exist, but little things like that are worth the extra money just to encourage good habits! We are the role models here. Maybe if he sees me brushing my teeth like a wild woman, I'll make some progress!

Sarah - posted on 06/01/2012

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I've found that making it an enjoyable habit works; positive reinforcement. I'll brush my teeth with the kids, be real and talk about how sometimes I forget or don't want to.

Instead of logical consequence, maybe a reward for completing it on his own for 21 days in a row.

Bottom line...kids don't come with handbooks, no human does. We do the best we can.

Best wishes!

Jennie - posted on 05/28/2012

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My son is alomost 12. I ofter times have the same issue with him not seeing the importance of brushing his teeth every morning and before bed. His breath is awful. If you have to take away iphones and Xbox, go for it. I know that those are the two most precious things in my son's world. His father takes these things away...it has created some pretty hard feelings between the two of them. I wish I had the a answer. Too bad there are bitter over-opinionated people here. I can say that Jodi's advice will NOT be followed. I see an incredibly lonely woman dealing out unwanted advice. Good luck with your boy!

Kimberly - posted on 05/28/2012

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Every chid is different, so you know what it takes to get your son's attention. I don't think it's too harsh. Life is harsh and children arw expensive enough w/o them adding to it b/c of irresponsibility.

Michelle - posted on 05/28/2012

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Had a thought, so think I will share it with you, I saw on a news program a few years ago that apparenlty (I do not know it for certain) Strawberries help to keep your teeth clean, the program said a strawberry or two, my mum used to tell me the skins on apples helped clean your teeth as well, I dont know if that was just to get me to eat the skins while i was younger but maybe its something to look into

Lisa - posted on 05/28/2012

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I, too, have a 14-year-old son, George, who has been professionally diagnosed with Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, and has Aspergers tendencies, to boot. "Forgetful" is an understatement. He almost always has a *disaster* of a bedroom (not just a mess), often "forgets" to shower & wash his oily hair and brush his teeth (I can't believe I even have to remind him!). Once kids get to be a certain age, traditional methods of training generally change to revocation of privileges. Kids do "get the picture" when parents remove their technology. I am all for making George get off the 'puter, and will remind him about his personal hygiene however long it takes, until he has an "aha" moment and doesn't need me to do it anymore. Often, the only way to get George to PAY ATTENTION is to revoke privileges. It's not punishment. It's training. I do this because I love him. I had to recently "housebreak" a new puppy, and am convinced that repetition ultimately breeds success.

I am not one of those radicals who believes in putting a whole generation of kids on Ritalin simply for MY convenience, but if the repetition and withholding privileges method doesn't seem to be doing squat, then I recommend you go with your son to a pediatric psychologist to see if there might be underlying issues (like ADHD or other learning disabilities).

Melissa - posted on 05/28/2012

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You are doing the right thing! Part of being a parent is getting them ready to be on their own. He only has 4 years till he is an adult. Honestly had no idea how many people lacked true parenting skills! Good luck! Your doing great :-)

Paula - posted on 05/28/2012

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Actually, I think punishment for not brushing his teeth is appropriate. My son was the same way and my friends said it wasn't a big deal, he will figure it out on his own. He did end up with alot of dental bills for one thing from his teeth slowly rotting (which I had to pay out of pocket as a single parent) but now he has such poor dental habits as an adult. I think the issue is helping him to have better hygiene habits to take him into adulthood because let's face it, sometimes they don't just figure it out on their own.

Patricia - posted on 05/28/2012

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wow so many opinions.. I was raised to brush morning & night regardless. And when my boys were younger we all brushed together. If its part of the routine & has been for sometime there shouldn't be a problem. I do understand that sometimes they forget, get side tracked or are simply running late. I was always taught the importance of keeping good oral hygiene. But i don't know what to say about the punishment. Having a nilly 14yr & a nilly 13yr old i do know where your coming from though. Some people will think its too sever & others not enough. Teenagers can get extremely lazy & only you can dishout the punishment to fit the crime.

Jeannie - posted on 05/27/2012

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I realize this is kind of an old post - but I only received it tonight. There are some things about this that bother me. #1 - why would you NOT get up in the morning with your son? I wouldn't miss that time with mine for anything! I never had to punish mine for such things - they ragged on each other enough for that! LOL And, after 10 years of raising him, why would you refer to him as your step-son? I have an adoptive son - it would never in 3 lifetimes occur to me to make that statement about "just trying to raise someone else's child"! And, personally, I agree that this punishment is "crazy". The kids at school will tell him soon enough. I see far more problems here than just brushing his teeth.

Deniece - posted on 05/27/2012

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I think that there is a better way to get a kid to brush their teeth. Show them pics of rotten teeth or you tube videos of dental work being done. Tell them that their breath will smell bad. It is a parents job to follow up though and yes even on this kind of thing. That being said, I don't think taking the phone is a big deal. The way it relates in my mind is this. If they can "remember" to pick up that cell phone before walking out the door then they can "remember" to brush their teeth or any other chore or requirement that is expected of them each day. When I took my ow 18 yr old and Air Force soldiers phone away for similar reasons it always seemed to jog his memory. Was it a permanent fix? Not always but guess what? I was there to do my job as his mom to help him succeed but to make him feel accountable and not humiliated

Deb - posted on 05/27/2012

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At 14 he knows what is right when it comes to brushing. That's a great idea. The BEST punishment for anything is to loose a toy/privilege.
Put the dental costs aside - obeying mom and dad comes first
And especially at that age, hygiene follows as a close second. Your on the right track. Even of you have to watch him to make sure he does it. Constancy, respect, discipline are key especially at this age. If brushing in the am iS part of your household routine, then by all means if he is not respecting that, some sort of punishment should follow.

Anna - posted on 05/27/2012

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Well, considering that it's your money that will be spent on dental visits, I think you have every right to demand better hygiene. Plus, it's just gross. If it's a time issue for him in the morning, perhaps provide him with some of those Colgate Wisps or similar so he can brush on the way to school or once he gets there.

Rachelle - posted on 05/27/2012

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I think it's harsh and pointless. If it bothers you that much get up out of bed and make sure he's brushing his teeth. But it's just another phase they go thru. What are going going to take away from him when he actually gets into real trouble. You need to pick your battles. Trust me his friends or girls will tell him his breath stinks. You could always buy him the throw away tooth brush cloths that he can have in his backpack if he runs out of time in the morning. I would leave the stickies on the mirror to remind him and tell him when he has bad breath to go brush his teeth whether he rolls his eyes or not. After a few weeks of brushing his teeth every time you tell him his breath stinks he'll remember to brush. And I agree with Jodi on many of her points. And I'm a direct don't beat around the bush type of person as well.

Lisa - posted on 05/27/2012

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Make sure he brushes at night. My 13 yr old has been good but my 12 yr old is not the best brusher. If he forgets and you make him do it at night at least you know it is done at least once.Yes, brushing is important I don't think it is harsh. Once you have a cavity in an adult tooth that is irreversible. I just made mine brush and passed out floss.

Jo - posted on 05/27/2012

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Ashley... both my 14 year old son and my 14 year old step-son are lazy when it comes to teeth brushing. Insanely, stupidly lazy. They don't care about their dental hygiene. They're in the "it won't happen to me" club. Nothing works. Standing next to them doesn't work. Refusing to take them "wherever" doesn't work. "I am not leaving the house with you to take you to the cinema/school/friend's house/skatepark until your teeth are clean" only barely works. They're just damn lazy 14 year old boys.

Fact is, there are NO immediate, natural consequences for not brushing your teeth in the morning, esp when you're a 14 year old boy whose friends don't always do it either. If there were, it'd be much, much easier!

Hopefully they'll "catch up" on their dental hygiene when they realise they need to - for girls, for life, etc. And hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later.

If taking away the xbox short term will actually make him clean his teeth more regularly - until he can actually REALISE how important it is to do so - what's wrong with that? It's not emotional or physical or verbal abuse ffs. It's just a simple "un-natural" consequence to bide the time until common sense kicks in.

It wouldn't work in our house simply because monitoring the consequence would take even more time and energy on our part than monitoring the teeth cleaning.

Tifany - posted on 05/27/2012

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I agree with the punishment teeth Nd hygiene should be just as important to him as his Xbox ect ...... I'm all for tough love.... But I would consider that tough love I consider it to be teaching him importance and priorities.... If he can remember to play his game he can remember to brush his teeth! Plain and simple......

Dena - posted on 05/27/2012

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Seriously , I can't understand how someone would think its wrong to enforce rules about personal hygiene! Number one this is a health issue, would you let him not take his insulin or anti depressant? Secondly , he needs to know that people expect others to smell decently. It is a health issue for the child and a courtesy issue for others. My 14 year old grandson (whom I am raising) has very poor hygiene as does his sister. The therapist told us it was except able to refuse to go out in public with them when they smell. I tell them that hygiene is a personal chore and like other chores must be done before free time activities, we do what we have to do so we can do what you want to do . Lastly when he is forty and needs dentures or can only eat soft foods it is because the parent did not do thier job. We need to teach , set expectations and enforce those rules and expectations so our children have the skills they need to be successful.

Poonam - posted on 05/27/2012

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In our case taking away our son's electronics has made him rebellious and he has stop listening to us. His friends mean everything to him not us.

Pamela - posted on 05/26/2012

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Do be aware that he can just wet his toothbrush before he leaves in the morning without brushing his teeth! LOL!!! Why not get up after him and before he leaves. Say nothing, jut watch. If he doesn't brush his teeth consecutively for 2 or 3 days, impose your punishment.

Do realize ghowever, that unless you are watching or listening while he is in the bathroom, wetting his toothbrush is an easy out....if he is that clever!

Doesn't seem too harsh to me, but I will note than I am not a fan of children's lives centering around electronic toys.

Alana - posted on 05/23/2012

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Sorry to belabor the point, but we are talking about a 14 year old, he'll be driving in a year, so surely he should be expected to brush his teeth and leave the house on time with little or no supervision. I have 4 boys, and while I agree that they can be some of the nastiest creatures, if you don't expect much, you won't get much. I applaud you for nipping this in the bud, but I'm still a little confused about your primary objective, is it lower dental bills or better responsibility from your son?

Danielle - posted on 05/23/2012

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I'm "encouraged" to keep up on my brushing more often (at least for a good month before a dental cleaning) when I think of the times the hygenist had to do more tartar removal vs less tartar removal. Haven't gotten any cavities since I was 12, but lesson still learned ...without being hit by a car even. :p

Beth - posted on 05/23/2012

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Thats a fine punishment for his age. You may want to help him remember by taping his toothbrush to the bathroom mirror untill he starts remembering. Being a parent means helping children learn responsibility as well as punishment.

Beth - posted on 05/23/2012

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That punishment is fine & fair. You may want to help remind him by leaving the toothbrush in a spot that will be easy for him to see. Some place he would not expect to see it so it looks out of place. Like taped to whatever he eats in the morning.

Debbie - posted on 05/23/2012

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Hi Ashley, Oh yes I too have a 14 yr old son who didn't ike to clean his teeth or change his under pants every now and then (yuk) and I too had to do the same thing as you as he was late for his bus due to him relying on me doing this and that for him in the morning to try and hurry things up but now I get up at 6 with him and don't call him every 5 mins from upstairs to remind him he has to hurry up, i let his own brain work for itself. He wasn't used to the silence at first and used to say mum, you still there ha ha ha, he now just about gets out on time. You are right to take away his gadgets as he is showing he doesn't care about himself or your financial situation and that is disrespectful (that's what i told my son) luckily we don't pay for kids treatment but my son doesn't know that. I would show him pictures on the Internet of swollen gums and the bacteria that is on out teeth and the damage it can cause daily if teeth are not cleaned. Try this but do it in a calm manner not while your frustrated at him otherwise he just won't care. P.s does he have a girlfriend as you can pull that one on him and say...who would want to kiss a boy with smelly breath. My son always cleans his teeth now as seen texts from a girl on my phone he is borrowing at the mo lol. Hope this helps knowing your not alone as boys are hard work aren't they especially teens xxx

Tracie - posted on 05/22/2012

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@Hillary Of course not. If I don't think she should drive him to school when he misses the bus, then i surely don't think he needs her to brush his teeth. My point was if she is truly worried there will be dental issues then to use a phrase my husband loves, She should inspect what she expects. My comment was not meant as a dig to her. i know nothing about her situation other than what she has share and I am more than fine with taking the iPhone and anything else away from him. i also think a 14 year old should surely be able to brush his own teeth. But like many people said he could easily just wet the toothbrush.

Hillary - posted on 05/22/2012

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@Tracie I don't think there's anything wrong w/teaching a 14 yr old child responsibility and that he should be the one in charge of brushing his teeth. Do you think Ashley should brush his teeth for him too?

Tracie - posted on 05/22/2012

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Here's is a lesson in consequence. If you don't get up and oversee your kids in the a.m. (not taking them to school, just being around) you may get a very large dental bill.
If the iPhone thing works, then fine, but the only way to be sure he is doing it is to be there.

Alana - posted on 05/22/2012

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I don't think "just letting a child get cavities" is a way to teach this lesson. Hygiene (and waking in the morning) is a matter of responsibility, and you don't teach a child how to cross the street by just letting them get hit by a car...it is our job to teach them, and sometimes for them to get the lesson we have to give them consequences as a safe alternative to the natural ones (finding a way to teach them not to smoke instead of just lettin them get cancer)...

Juliana - posted on 05/22/2012

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Hi Ashley, the punishment does not fit the crime. Sorry doll I know you are just trying to be a great mum, but wait until you really need to use that trump card. My son is now 18 but when he was 14 and would forget to brush his teeth, I would always reinforce to him NO ONE LIKE PEOPLE WITH SMELLY BREATH. That really worked.

Leeanne - posted on 05/22/2012

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My kids are much younger but I expect them to take some responsibility for themselves and their behaviour. They know if they are not pulling their weight there are consequences. The loss of electronics (computer/PS3/ipad) is not a punishment which actually harms them but it certainly gets them back on the page again. I don't think you are being too tough. These things are privileges, not rights. I think he should be able to get himself out of bed (with the use of an alarm clock), however, I do think if you are lying in bed while he gets ready he will get mixed messages. Get up and eat breakfast and clean your teeth with him (role model), even if you shower after he goes to school.

Danielle - posted on 05/22/2012

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Make a point of having him brush his teeth at night, have him keep a travel toothbrush & paste in his backpack (he can brush during lunch), show him a breakdown on dental bills and draw up a contract that if he gets cavities due to him not brushing that he will have to do certain chores to offset the out of pocket expenses for the dental work. If it's serious enough, then he doesn't get that new game for the XBox or he loses cell privileges (assuming he has a cell phone) for that month. There are ways to get the point across how much money this is causing him. Also see if you can't get the dentist to scare him straight.

For the record, does he not have strong enamel? I have really strong enamel, which I passed onto the kids, so I don't necessarily brush every day either & I haven't had a cavity (knock on wood) since I was 12. Yes, hygenie is important, but you might need to let him learn this lesson himself.

Vickie - posted on 05/22/2012

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I have a hard time getting mine to brush their teeth and I got tired of nagging them about it so if they have cavities they have to pay for it. Their next visit to the dentist is in a month so we'll see then if I need to enforce it because I don't think the threat has sunk in yet.

Alana - posted on 05/22/2012

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Honestly I'd be more concerned with the morning bus issue...his hygiene is important, but you even stated that he doesn't forget often, meaning he is mostly consistent. I am a firm believer (and doer) of tough love, but you have to pick your battles. Look at the root cause of the bus and teeth brushing...he doesn't get up on time. Establish the consequence with THAT and the other issues will be worked out. In other words, he's more likely to forget to brush his teeth if he's rushing..rushing because he woke up late...woke late because he is relying on you and not himself. I would be remiss if I didn't also point out (without judgement), but he is 14 years old and needs to be held to a 14-year old's standard...so my advice/comment is to take his phone or other device when he doesn't rise on time because that is a matter of responsibility and has got to get at for his success....I've seen people fired for being late, not so much for their breath.

Mae - posted on 05/22/2012

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I think you are in the right to punish him. While I agree with the majority that he will more than likely start taking the initiative once he becomes more actively interested in pursuing a relationship, you still have a responsibility as a parent. It is, in my opinion very poor parenting to let your child think it is acceptable to not pay attention to their health; dental, medical, or otherwise.

Now he is only fourteen and he will not thank you for the responsibility, but be honest with him as to why you are enforcing it. I seriously wish that my parents would have paid more attention to my lack of attention to my dental health. I have many issues that have come up due to my own teenage laziness.

This is also a habit that has the potential to carry over into other areas. He is old enough to take responsibility for his hygenie, he is old enough to take responsibility for his academics, and old enough to take responsibility for his actions. When you start letting him think it is acceptable to ignore one area, how long before he thinks it is acceptable to ignore another?

I would rather my son be annoyed with me and know in the long run, with maturity, that he will understand why I made him brush his teeth rather than him have the disparging thoughts and feeling that I have for my own parents.

Thank you,
Angel Starilng

Jackie - posted on 05/22/2012

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If my kids miss the bus because they didn't get up or were messing around, they have to pay me for a ride to school. $1 per grade level. The older they get, the more it costs them. One of my kids had to do this once and it hasn't been an issue since. I let them know that it's my time, gas, and mileage on the car when I've already paid taxes for the school bus.

Dawn - posted on 05/22/2012

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I've had the same sort of issues with my boys. Many years ago my husband and I divided the day, he was in charge of mornings and I had evenings. This was because I started working at 7AM. The problem for me was that he would dress the kids while they slept and drag them to the table to eat a little and drag them to school. For me, they had been getting up, dressing, brushing teeth and eating breakfast and walking to the bus stop. When they got cavities and gingivitis, I got upset. As they got older, they didn't have good habits. However, I found that by making my expectations known and putting reminder notes on the bathroom mirror they -eventually- learned to get themselves going. I also had to sit down with them and make a rough schedule of what each child's morning looked like. I posted that on the fridge and the bathroom mirror at first and asked them about each thing. It seemed extreme, but they had learned such bad habits that I had to turn that around. Now, with puberty and self awareness kicking in and better habits, I don't monitor it day to day. I do check in with them though now that I go to work later. I say whatever consequence works for your child - go for it. The video games would be too abstract for my kids, but it may work for yours. Tell us if it worked.

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