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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

What I learned from my son this week

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

One evening last week, I walked into the bathroom and called my son (20 months old) through to brush his teeth. Much to my surprise he trotted through quickly enough and I proceeded to get down onto my knees so I was at a reasonable height to brush his teeth, and well, he copied me. He got down onto his knees too. Both of us are now kneeling on the bathroom floor and his mouth is still too low for me to reach without putting my back out.

Evidently, the thought process was, “daddy is on his knees to brush my teeth, so I should be on my knees to brush my teeth”. The logic of the toddlers mind is completely sound, however he’s failed to realise the reason for me getting to my knees.

He now does this every single time he comes to brush his teeth, because I'm kneeling down, despite me asking him to stand up every time before we start brushing. Now he seems to think it's some sort of ritual whereby we have to kneel in some sort of homage to a divine toothpaste prior to brushing.

Learning by copying our parents, our mentors or anyone we respect is a key driver in our education. For sure this is one of the easiest methods of learning, you copy someone who is good at what you want to be good at. The problem is often we do this without understanding exactly why we do it.

Imitation may be a useful place to start our journey but we really require a deeper level of understanding if we're to truly grow and develop. If we don’t understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, we probably shouldn’t be doing it. Try telling that to my son though, the look of confusion on his face when I told him to stand up the first time was priceless.

By the way, the four toothbrushes in the picture are for my two children. A superb suggestion by our oral health educator, Jackie, at Lindley. One brush for each of them to (mis)use, to chew and generally destroy, as evidenced in the picture. The second brush is for me to actually clean their teeth with. "If the bristles are splaying, the brush aint playing". As soon as the bristles are no longer pointing upright, the toothbrush isn't going to clean effectively and my kids have a knack of getting them bristles to splay within about 30 seconds of opening the packet.

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