At around 5 yrs old, losing your first tooth has to be one of the most exciting moments in your life to date. It is the first rite of passage that you are fully aware of, and a milk tooth lost is a big tooth gained. But when did the tooth fairy become comercialised, and does it serve a good purpose to pay a child for something that they have no control over anyway?
According to the tooth fairy of information, Wikipedia, the act of trading money for baby teeth was started in early Europe where various cultures had traditions such as a gift of money from the tooth fairy for the sixth tooth lost (but the tooth was not taken). In Northern Europe there are recordings in Norse about a tooth fee for the first tooth lost. In some areas, the fairy is replaced by a little mouse, but the modus operandi is the same – teeth are left under pillows and exchanged for gifts or cash in the night. But how, when and where the tooth fairy decided to just hand out cash for every tooth she could get her hands on, Wikipedia doesn’t know.
The sweet tradition of the tooth fairy begs the broader question – are children today over-rewarded for events that are simply part of life – and how can we keep the essence of the tradition alive without buying into a cycle of endless cash reward?
- Make something
By making something special for your child to acknowledge and celebrate a lost tooth, and still having the tooth fairy deliver it, the event is will still retain the magic.
- Make something lasting
Instead of delivering money the tooth fairy can deliver a bead for each tooth. Once all the teeth have been exchanged for beads, they can be strung into a necklace – it becomes something of value (beyond the cost of the beads) and can become a treasured item. How many children remember what they bought with their tooth money let alone still have?
- Make something significant
Create a family tradition of celebrating each lost tooth with a special meal, or a ceremony that in some way acknowledges the next step in the child’s transition from babyhood into childhood and beyond. It can be as simple as baking a favourite cake (for goodness sake, don’t tell the Dental Association we suggested that) or creating a ritual around the idea of the tooth fairy.
Coming up soon, we will be introducing the tooth fairy’s nemesis, the Sugar Fairy and showing you what a treat she will be on October 31st!
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