It’s perfectly normal for children to initially fear strangers, especially in an unfamiliar environment. Practitioners of Greenville, SC family dental offices, like Falls Park Dentistry, ensure that kids with first-time jitters are made comfortable and feel supported by clinic staff. However, extra steps need to be taken for children with serious anxiety. In her article for Philly.com, Katherine Dahlsgaard describes ways for parents to help allay their child’s fear of the dental chair.
Remain calm and positive
Whatever nervousness you feel will be felt by your child. If she sees you are composed, this will tell them that there is nothing to afraid of. In addition, support your child by highlighting their positive behaviors, i.e. “I love the way you are sitting still in the chair!”, “Great job following directions!”, and “You are being so cooperative!”
Pre-visit role playing
Take some time before going to the dental clinic to role play with your child and set her expectations. This should put her in a light mood and make her feel a dental appointment at Falls Park Dentistry is almost like child’s play.
Practice first. Play “Dentist.” Watch fun YouTube videos featuring children at the dentist or read some books on the topic. Then role-play, with parent acting as “patient” first. Lay back in a recliner; let your child poke around in your mouth. Switch roles. This activity should be lighthearted and fun.
More than a pat on the back
Everyone loves a reward, especially children. This system will acknowledge their courage and reinforce their confidence for future visits.
Plan a reward together in advance. Rewards motivate. Your child earns it by following the rules. This should ideally be some fun activity (not expensive) you can do immediately after the appointment. That way, your child has something to look forward to.
Finish what you start
Giving in to a child’s weeping and foot-stomping is counterproductive to say the least. This is her victory dance. By surrendering, you are sending a message that you have lost and future dental visits will be battles that she can win.
No avoidance; no escape. Do whatever you can to keep a distressed child from escaping the appointment without finishing. She’ll leave demoralized and also likely to link future trips to the dentist with how she was feeling at the height of her anxiety this time.
If your child’s anxiety appears severe and she is unable to be treated, she could be suffering from a chronic psychological disorder. Greenville family dentistry professionals recommend the child consult with a mental health provider.
(Article excerpt and image from “10 tips for parents to extract dental fears”, 23 September 2014, www.philly.com)