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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193 Comments

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Lesli - posted on 05/15/2012

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As a mom of 16, 14, and 9 year old boys, I've certainly had this issue. I'm honestly shocked at the number of you who think a break in electronic use is barbaric. I agree taking his phone might help. I would take the Xbox first because my boys have phones because I need to be able to reach them. That would be an inconvenience to me for them to lose phone privileges. There are some things in life we have to do whether we like to or not. Kids need to learn this. Kids today are very selfish and entitled because parents don't want to correct them. I think you would be doing your son a disservice by allowing him not to brush his teeth. I also think you should get up in the morning. You don't have to dress him but a quick "Did you remember to..." before he leaves might help.

Julie - posted on 05/15/2012

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Are you sure you're teaching him to get up on time? Or are you just too lazy to get up with him in the morning? I work a swingshift and het home late at night, but I wouldn't miss the chance to see my kid in the morning before school for anything!

[deleted account]

I think it's up to you as to how you determine what consequences your son should have for not brushing. BUT, if it were me....I'd be getting up in the morning with him. Not to take care of him, but to make sure he's taking care of himself. (Did you eat your breakfast? Do you have your homework? Did you brush your teeth?) I have dental issues, so it's really important to me that my son has good oral hygeine but I don't think I'd punish him if he didn't brush every morning. Like some of the other moms have said, the girls or his friends will let him know.



Out of curiosity, why don't you get up with him in the morning?

Nevermind, I just read the earlier replies. I'd still be getting up and making sure he gets his butt out of bed. Then again, I'm a "get up and make my kid breakfast most mornings" type of person so getting up in the morning really isn't a big deal for me. I don't LIKE it (LOL I would SO LOVE to sleep in!) but I feel like it's my job and I don't see that changing when he gets older.

Karen - posted on 05/15/2012

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Hmmm..I understand Ashleys point as trying to make her 14 year old take responsability for his hygene..which is important to do at a young age. Teens must understand there will be consiquences to their actions. Some people grow up with bad habits and never grow out of them. I agree with u Ashley, I forbid my teen daughter from all electronics until her shower is taken or else she will not have access. Its also a point of being lazy towards taking care of themselves, and we are the parents and our role is to teach them the importance of cleanliness and how horrible it is for other people to have to be submitted to their rank odors( mouth or B.O!!). He will catch on soon enough... BTW..I never take away her cell rights as its a punishment I can't follow through with. Her cell is for her safety and tht overides everything else. But there is ays room for laptop confiscation for a day or no tV. Good luck Ashley!

Tricia - posted on 05/15/2012

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I don't think it is too harsh at all. Make sure you follow through with the punishment when you say you will and he will quickly learn what the consequences are. If he loves his xbox he will start making sure he does brush his teeth. Maybe u could get up a morning every now and then 5 minutes b4 he leaves to make sure he has done it.

Julie - posted on 05/15/2012

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Are you kidding. That is not harsh at all. I think its fair. I would tell him that if he doesnt brush his teeth that I will brush them for him.

Emily - posted on 05/15/2012

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You're definitely not being too harsh. There is more at stake than dental bills. Poor hygiene can be isolating to kids at that age, especially boys. And during a time where their peers opinions can affect their self esteem it is especially important to give our kids the best opportunity to succeed. Just because our children become teenagers or even young adults, it does not take away our responsibilities as parents to guide them.

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.

Elizabeth - posted on 05/14/2012

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And on the missing the bus thing. Instead of not getting up till after he leaves. If you have to take him so school tell him he has to pay for gas. Above everything else my son likes his money. If he has to pay for something, like gas because he missed the bus. He will make sure he doesn't do it again. I've even made our 10 year old pay for gas because she didn't want to get up and catch the bus.

Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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"And for Jodi- she wanted opinions...... Not judgmental preaching."



Actually (1) I gave my opinion, but (2) she was asking for judgements when she asked if she was being fair or too harsh. That is a question of judgement. I made a judgement when giving my opinion that I personally would not do what she did because I think it is (a) overboard and (b) has no logic tied to the act of not brushing one's teeth. Take that as you wish.



Quite honestly, if it is such a big deal to her, get up and make sure he does it before he goes to school. Otherwise, accept that teenage boys are the vaguest creatures on the planet and will FORGET to do it sometimes. Punishment is pointless unless he is doing it deliberately (and what she is doing is NOT a consequence, it is a punishment).

Elizabeth - posted on 05/14/2012

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I think your a little over the top. I face issues all the time. But if all I had to deal with was not brushing his teeth!? I'd be over joyed!

Miranda - posted on 05/14/2012

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WWWWWhat is so bad about a kid losing his phone or xbox? Will the kids just die of boredom? Geez, it's not the end of the world. My 16yr old has lost her phone for giving me attitude and guess what?. She apologized and changed it. Oh my the horror, she went a whole weekend without a phone. L

Miranda - posted on 05/14/2012

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When we were kids we had NO CELL PHONES!!! Guess what? We are still here. If this mom feels that taking the phone or games away will work then have at it. My son responds to losing his games. Bottom line is, it doesn't have to "relate"! Not doing what is expected of you = consequence. That's the only way it relates. And for Jodi- she wanted opinions...... Not judgmental preaching. Agree. Don't agree. It's an opinion..... Just like butts- everybody has one. Calm down. No one expects to hear a mirrored opinion, that why we can post and get other views. If we want to ignore them then that's our right. If you don't like it, don't post! It's. Just that simple. B-)

Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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". If you don't give consequences they walk all over you and have no respect for anyone or anything."

LOL, no-one suggested their shouldn't be consequences.

Kim - posted on 05/14/2012

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WOW now I know why kids are the way they are now a days. If you don't give consequences they walk all over you and have no respect for anyone or anything. Mom sais brush your teeth then you brush your teeth.

Donna - posted on 05/14/2012

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I think Tara's coment about a post it note as a reminder is a great idea but I do agree that he should get some kind of punishment if he don't do it.

Donna - posted on 05/14/2012

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Hi Ashley,

I am 42 years old and have lost most of my back teeth from lack of brushing and won't smile because my front teeth look bad too. I didn't just not brush my teeth but was hit and miss on brushing until it became to painful to brush. The best thing you can do is make him brush his teeth and just a hint (check his breath) When I was in a hurry I would just wet the tooth brush so that my mom thought I brushed it. For his sake and the sake of your wallet stick to your guns when it comes ot his teeth.

Stifler's - posted on 05/14/2012

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Plus I agree with Jodi you aren't here for advice you're here to get validation that you did the right thing. And people WILL disagree on an online forum.

Tara - posted on 05/14/2012

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Okay so I have read some of the replies and I just want to point out that you did indeed ask this question:

Do you think that's fair or am I being to harsh?

So I am going to answer you.

No I don't think it's fair, and yes I think you are being too harsh.

Why? Because he is 14 and there must be a better way to get him to brush his teeth without resorting to removing his phone or x box time.

How about a Post it note? Post it on the bathroom mirror, post another one on the door he uses to leave the house. At least give the kid a chance to remember before you punish him for "forgetting". Do you get punished when you forget something? If he is genuinely not brushing his teeth on purpose then sure punish him for it, but I highly doubt a 14 year old is willingly leaving the house with his teeth unbrushed.
Kids are forgetful, teenage boys take the cake on that one. But punishing him seems unnecessary and actually somewhat insulting given his age. In 4 years he will be on to college and his own life, 4 years isn't that far away, I'm sure there are bigger battles you could be fighting.

Ashley - posted on 05/14/2012

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My 6 yr old fights me everyday about doin the same thing. So I tell him that he will lose all his teeth if he doesnt brush them(he hasnt lost one yet naturally but had one pulled out after getting a ball to the face). He is scared of that happening so he will stop fighting me with exceptions. On the other days he wants to fight me n telling him that dont work, I tell him all the kids at school are going to make fun of him cuz he has stinky breath. He didnt believe me til he came home one day n said the boys made fun of him cuz his breath stunk. He hasnt really had an issue since and its goin on 3 weeks. As for you, I think your being too leanient. Make it a harsher punishment for a 14 yr old. Nothing but his room after school til bed, no phone, games, etc. until he learns to do it.

Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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"Do you think that's fair or am I being to harsh? "

^^^ That was your question, I answered it. You thought it was condescending? Your interpretation, your problem. Sorry, you posted on a public forum. You don't get to dictate who can and cannot answer your question.

[deleted account]

Again, Jodi, you don't get it. Please just leave this post! I am happy to listen to advice that's not belittling and condescending, and that's exactly what you have done here.

I'm sorry I ever asked a simple question, it won't happen again. Thanks for your help Jodi.

Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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Has anyone considered that this is not a *better-than-though* chip, but a genuine lack of understanding as to how taking an iPhone or xBox from a child for not cleaning their teeth teaches them to actually choose to clean their teeth for the right reasons?



And as I said, I genuinely don't understand why you would bother posting for advice if it is working for you and you have no intention of listening to a variety of advice rather than just dismissing it. It makes absolutely no sense unless you are after some sort of kudos.



No argument here. Just genuine bafflement......

Sneaky - posted on 05/14/2012

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WOW. REALLY?? Did someone just say "the end justifies the means"??? So beating the shit out of a kid when they misbehave is OK??

You know what - I HOPE you really did not mean that statement. But maybe we should all try and THINK before we post shall we??

[deleted account]

Jodi, if this obviously bothers you, then please don't reply. I'm not trying to start a war here, just asked a simple question. I'm not going to get into a battle of words for the second post I have ever made on this site. Thanks, but no thanks.

April - posted on 05/14/2012

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Jodi, get the better-than-thou chip off your shoulder and quit with the demeaning tone and attitude. We are here to help encourage, support, and offer our own motherly advice and perspectives. In a POSITIVE way. The things some do to feel good about themselves. {Insert eye roll & laughter here}

Jodi - posted on 05/14/2012

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OK, so if it works best, why bother asking? I am actually struggling to see why you bothered coming here to ask the question if it is working for you? Why would you? Are you looking for a cookie?



"As far as a life lesson, I see one: If you don't do what is expected out you there are repercussions. You don't study for that test, you don't pass, which leads to another consequence. You don't preform your job to the bosses expectations, you don't get your check at the end of the week, which in turn you can't pay the bill for that iPhone. Et cetera, et cetera. I could go on and on."



Everything you have just listed here is a logical or natural consequence. Please tell me how cleaning your teeth, or not, is related to iPhones, xboxes and the like in real life?

[deleted account]

Bingo April! You just stated what I was thinking as I was making the mashed potatoes for dinner!

[deleted account]

Thanks Melloney, you're absolutely correct, do what works best. This works for us, and he would agree. He's an easygoing kid and knows I'm not trying to punish him on purpose. He gets the message here and that's how our family works. Besides, this has happened I would say maybe only 3-4 times in a month, and I don't even feel the toothbrush everyday, it's totally random. I'm just a step mom trying to do my best raising someone elses child. But I've been doing this for 10 years now and we all work great together.

And no, I'm not looking for people to tell me it's right. As a matter of fact this topic has been covered before and you would be amazed at the parents that feel the same way I do.

There is more to life than Xbox and video games, and sometimes our kids have to come back down to reality to remember what's important. To each their own!

April - posted on 05/14/2012

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Making himself get ready wasn't what the issue was here. I agree with having a consequence. It's something that should be done everyday just like cleaning his bedroom, doing his homework, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, and whatever other chores he has. When those things aren't done there should be consequences for that so I don't see why this should be any different.

As far as a life lesson, I see one: If you don't do what is expected out you there are repercussions. You don't study for that test, you don't pass, which leads to another consequence. You don't preform your job to the bosses expectations, you don't get your check at the end of the week, which in turn you can't pay the bill for that iPhone. Et cetera, et cetera. I could go on and on.

Melloney - posted on 05/14/2012

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Do what you feel works best for you. If he is brushing his teeth, the ends justifies the means. I tell my kids your breath stinks, when they don't brush their teeth, some might say that's emotional abuse. At the end of the day, you know your kid.

Dove - posted on 05/14/2012

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My kid starts riding the bus next year in 6th grade and already knows I won't ever be the bus... and that bus leaves at 6:45. ;)

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?

Krista - posted on 05/14/2012

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Exactly -- it's better to persuade him that brushing his teeth is in his own best interests, rather than having to check his darned toothbrush every morning to see if it's wet.

Dove - posted on 05/14/2012

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Unless he just does like Jodi said and wets the brush. If you aren't up with him you won't have a clue either way and I have a feeling if you punish him for not brushing his teeth he might just do that just to 'spite' you. Maybe not though.

[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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Good point Krista. When my son went through a phase where he would avoid cleaning his teeth, I actually simply told him his breath stinks, no girl is going to want him :P It *kind of* worked. But the phase doesn't last forever. Once they "discover" girls, they tend to suddenly go overboard on the hygiene then.

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."

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.

Sarah - posted on 05/14/2012

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It'll come when he starts to get interested in girls. Then you wont be able to get him out of the bathroom!

[deleted account]

So how would you go about getting your teen son to learn responsibility and taking care of himself?

Dove - posted on 05/14/2012

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I would never even consider punishing a 14 year old (any age actually) for not brushing his teeth in the morning. I get your point about the dental bills, but sorry... I think that's crazy.

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