Rather than pass on your fear of the dentist to your kids, teach them these important dental health habits instead.

Scared of the dentist? You could be passing that fear on to your children, according to a new study from the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid. Researchers found that the development of “dentophobia” is closely linked to parents’ behavior in the dentist’s chair. What’s more, the way Dad responds to the dentist may be particularly important in how both the child and the mother view their own dentist visits.

Kids live by their parents’ example, so remaining calm at the dentist’s office in front of your children is key to how they will behave during their own future cleanings and also affects whether or not they will stick with other good dental habits. From maintaining a relaxed demeanor during dentist visits to encouraging daily brushing, there are many ways to ensure your kids grow up with healthy teeth and mouths. Here are a few strategies you might try:

Show ‘Em How It’s Done

Because we know the best way to teach is by your own example, your toddler should see you brushing your teeth every morning and evening. If you usually do this before they get up or after they go to bed, alter your routine so they can be present. You can even let your child help you brush your teeth just like you help them with theirs. It’s only fair! You can also find YouTube videos of children the same age as your child having a good time using a toothbrush. Kids love having a peer to relate to when they are learning a new skill.

Make It Story Time

While seeing you take care of your own teeth is a good start, there’s nothing like a little suspense to bribe your child into doing what you want. Use tooth brushing time to tell a story. If you’re creative, you can make up a story that incorporates mythical characters like the knight (the toothbrush) and the goblins (plaque) in an epic struggle in the dragon’s cave (their mouth). They have to keep their mouth open so you can see what’s going on with the characters in your story. Singing or listening to a special tooth brushing song is good too. Or, take the show into the living room and have them brush while they watch a favorite DVD.