Whatever works…works

Answering your questions on strong-willed kids, dental hygiene, and…books!

Good morning, everyone! I’m coming to you today with major news. Starting Monday, I’m officially handing this newsletter off to our incredibly talented, stunningly bright new writer, Lindsay Hyatt. I’ll let Lindsay introduce herself in the next edition, but trust me when I say this—you’re in very good hands.

I’m so excited to cheer Lindsay on as this newsletter’s editor. Here’s to the relatable, honest family content you know and love, now with the expertise of someone who’s actually been through it. Thank you for these last four weeks and the many more to come! Now let’s get to the good stuff: some Q&A.

—Kinsey, your FamilyMade editor turned childless family content writer turned editor again

Your question: Tips for brushing a one year old's teeth? My daughter is suddenly refusing to brush her teeth.


Our answer: As someone who regularly asks my boyfriend “can you just brush them for me” when I’m too tired to participate in those two minutes of nightly dental hygiene…I get this on a deeply personal level. But like me, your daughter can be persuaded.

Before we talk about how, let’s understand why it’s important in the first place:

  • Infants should start brushing their teeth (well…having their teeth gently brushed) as soon as they get their first tooth. According to the CDC, 80% of U.S. children start brushing their teeth later than they should.

  • And that can have lasting effects—starting to brush too late can create plaque and tartar buildup on kids’ teeth, which can lead to cavities.

So how can you ensure that your child brushes regularly? Shawn and Andrew shared some ideas.

  1. Experiment with your toolkit. 🧰 Shawn and Andrew recommend trying an electric toothbrush. You could also switch up your toothpaste (FYI, docs recommend holding off on toothpaste until kids are 2 years old, then only using the amount of toothpaste that’s the size of a grain of rice).

  2. Make a game out of toothbrush time. 🎯 Create an incentive system with a colorful chart and stickers that’ll encourage your child to brush twice a day, every day.

  3. Go multimedia. 📘 There are tons of books and videos out there that’ll show your kids how cool (and necessary) brushing is. Shawn and Andrew love The Brushies, which comes with a book and a set of cute finger puppet toothbrushes.

  4. Get creative. 🤷🏻‍♀️ In the East family’s case, that meant letting Drew and Jett brush their parents’ teeth first. Hey, whatever works…works.

Your question: Dealing with a strong willed child? My toddler is very headstrong and argues often and only wants what he wants. We’ve tried giving options and various discipline techniques, but nothing truly seems to work. It’s very hard and challenging for us parents!


Our answer: Someday, having an independent, self-assured, motivated adult child will be a point of pride. But that day is not today—we get it. So how do you best parent your spirited little one?

It might help to understand your toddler’s motivations. Often, strong-willed kids want to learn things for themselves instead of being told how the world works—that can translate to the repeated testing of limits and boundaries. Your child might also have trouble switching gears once he sets his heart or sights on something. I’d bet he’s also got some big feelings.

None of those qualities are inherently difficult or bad! They’re the tiny parts of the tiny personality growing in your child, and that individuality is beautiful. That said…it doesn’t mean that the meltdowns are any easier to deal with. So I asked Shawn and Andrew what they do when their kids get a little headstrong:

Patience is key,” Shawn said. “And taking breaks as a parent is important. We can get so easily frustrated and want to snap but understanding that your kids are trying their very best to communicate with the little words and understanding they have can help.

For your child, it’s like asking an alien for the WiFi password—he knows what he needs, but he can’t figure out how to get it. So as his parent, do your best to practice patience, remember that your child’s communication toolkit is growing every single day, and when all else fails? Look…all I’m saying is that a glass of wine or a mocktail can work wonders. 

Some more specific resources that have been helpful for the Easts:

Your question: What are y’all’s favorite children’s books to read to Drew and Jett? I enjoy the classics, but would love to hear of any unique books your family loves.


Our answer: I know I usually do two questions, but this is my last at bat and I love books so I won’t tell if you don’t. 

Some of the East family’s favorite titles:

Funny how many of those were favorites of mine almost three decades ago. A classic is a classic for a reason!

Submit a question to be featured in a future Q&A here.

Finally, science agrees: Caring for an infant changes your brain structure and functions. In her book, Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood, author and journalist Chelsea Conaboy explores the scientific reasoning behind the changes caregivers of all kinds go through when they assume parenting responsibilities. This interview Conaboy did with Slate was eye opening—from “maternal instinct” to the “golden hour,” Conaboy is debunking and rewriting some of parenting’s biggest myths. 

Attention, working parents: First of all, you’re going to love Monday's newsletter. Second of all, career coach and author Daisy Dowling shared some fantastic tips for working parents to reframe their perspectives and reclaim their time.

Houston, we have a case of the giggles: Shawn and Andrew attempted astronaut training with the help of their friend and former astronaut (and the youngest American to orbit the earth) Hayley Arceneaux and the good news is this—looks like they’re going to be earthbound for the foreseeable future.

Finally, may your back to school season be…almost over.

That’s all for today, fam! I am so thrilled to pass the baton over to Lindsay starting now (yes that’s a little sports reference I picked up working with an Olympian and an NFL player). Can’t wait to see the new heights she takes this community to! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday. ❤️