Music as Motivator

Believe it or not, my three year old frequently requests to brush her teeth longer.

How did this occur?

-For many straight months my husband and I fought with her to brush her teeth. We valiantly led by example, promised cookies, pinned her down, brushed her dolls teeth – there was no convincing her that this was a fun thing to do.

-We turned to Music. Elmo had been a hit and so we pulled out a Sesame Street Music Video of Elmo brushing his teeth and singing a catchy pop song “Brushy Brush Your Teeth.”

-We sang and did a silly dance around the bathroom, all while brushing! If she stopped brushing, the song was paused until she started to brush again.

-To date, we have moved on to a new motivating song, called ”Brush Your Teeth.“ (Both songs can be found on YouTube).

Why is music a good habit building motivator?

-It can elicit emotional reactions and enhance mood

-It can combat de-motivating brain signals associated with fatigue or boredom

-It can draw our attention away from the negative aspects of a task

-It can energize and increase endurance

You may wonder – without a YouTube music video, will she still brush her teeth? For the first 1-2 months, she would not; she needed those dancing & singing kids to encourage her. However today she will happily brush without a music video – often longer than my husband will.

Please enjoy these clips with your children:

We started out with Elmo.

This is the latest favourite, though even my daughter notices how slow the cartoon kids brush their teeth, “It looks like they’re sleeping!”

Happy Brushing all!
-Vashti Fairbairn is a local New West music and piano teacher, owner of Music Box Music Academy at the New Westminster River Market. You can read more about raising your children musically at