This Quarter’s Theme: Brush Up: Dental Care!
Tooth Talk Helps You Motivate Behavior Change in Parents By Changing How You Talk
“I think for us the biggest problem is parents don’t have a lot of time to communicate with us. And so what happens is only one side gets to say what they really need to say. It’s either us or the parents.” –LaToya Newsom, Durham Early Head Start, Durham, NC
“Good communication to me is when the teacher and I can get together on what’s best for the child.” –Alisha, a parent
“Good communication is having a door that swings both ways. It allows both the staff and the parent to have their input and it empowers the parent to understand that they are a viable and valuable part of whatever situation that they’re in.”
– Carole Morrison, Head Start Manager, Salisbury, NC
Do you find it easy to talk with parents? Do you feel they listen to your suggestions about their children’s diet and health care? No? You’re not alone!
Sometimes, a short open-ended question lets parents know you’re both on the same team and have their children’s best interest as a top priority. Instead of saying, “Did you take Latisha to the dentist to get that tooth fixed yet,” try asking, “How’s it going getting Latisha’s tooth fixed?” or “Good job getting Latisha’s tooth fixed!”
Everyone needs praise! And asking a question that doesn’t require a YES or NO answer encourages conversation and builds trust. It motivates people to move forward in changing behaviors. This kind of communicating is called motivational interviewing, or MI for short.
To see more examples of how to use these MI skills from Tooth Talk, the website about improving children’s dental health for early childhood educators and childcare providers, click on the Videos tab. You’ll find a variety of helpful videos with good tips about motivational interviewing and inspiring behavior change in parents for kids’ healthy teeth.