As a parent, you already know your tiny human has a lot of unfounded fears. From the time the broccoli looked like “a bumpy green monster” (well played, little one!) to classics like the bad guy under the bed, there are thousands of moments that drive any mom or dad to sympathize, roll their eyes, or even chuckle.
When it comes to fear of the dentist, your child is not alone. Not only are plenty of other children in their shoes, but a great deal of full-grown adults can actually relate as well. So how do you soothe your precious little person? Here are 4 key tips to get you started.
1) Treat It Like a Common Errand
If you spend multiple days in advance trying to emotionally prepare your child for his or her first trip to the dentist, chances are it might backfire. Sometimes as parents, we over-correct a potential problem before the issue even has a chance to present itself. If this will be your child’s first time at the dentist, it’s a good strategy to treat it like a simple grocery run or even an exciting mini-adventure.
Of course, if your kiddo has already been to the dentist a few times and developed a fear, this strategy is less effective. If this is the case, treat your trip to the dentist like a big, brave accomplishment instead.
2) Give Kids Room for Their Own Thoughts
Kids are full of opinions—for better or worse. With this in mind, it can be beneficial to take a step back and let them tell you how they feel. Instead of using phrases like, “Don’t worry sweetie, this won’t hurt,” before you go to the dentist, allow them to form their own opinions. Perhaps they weren’t worried in the first place that it would hurt.
If your child’s evaluation of the dentist is that the experience was scary, make sure to let us know. For instance, teeth can be a bit sensitive after a cleaning and this is something that is much less scary if they are prepared. When working with wary children, we can speak in a way that might be less intimidating; for example, “I’m just going to count your teeth!” or “Let me clean off a few sugar bugs so your teeth are nice and healthy!”
3) Evaluate Whether They’re Better Off With You or Alone
You may be wondering whether it’s best to stay with your child or nudge them out of the nest. The answer is: it depends. Some children may feel abandoned if you stay in the waiting room, whereas others may enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with being independent. You know your child best!
4) Don’t Feel Guilty About a Tantrum
In a perfect world, your child wouldn’t throw a tantrum about going to the dentist. But in a perfect world, your child would also eat his veggies, be nice to her siblings, and not yank on the dog’s ears quite that hard.
If your mini-me has shed some tears or tossed a tantrum, don’t feel bad. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. The friendly staff at Rebol Family Dentistry is here for you and we ultimately want to provide both you and your child with the best experience possible. Please let us know any and all of your family’s needs!
Not a patient yet? If you’d like to make an appointment, for yourself or your child, please give us a call at 828-358-2292 or schedule an appointment online.