If you take your concern about going to the dentist and multiply it by ten, that’s likely the level of your child’s anxiety before their first visit. Fortunately, there are ways to destress your child before going to the dentist for the first time, turning that frown upside down.
Watch Your Language
We aren’t referring to curse words, although using expletives when discussing the dentist may be a common practice among many. Instead, we mean avoiding the words that will frighten your children. Typically, anything that involves a little bit of pain petrifies children, especially when they may receive a shot.
Therefore, rather than telling them precisely what’s going to happen, let the staff tell you different variations of what’s going on. For example, saying something like, “We just want to check your pretty smile” is more effective than saying they are checking for cavities. When you are looking for a pediatric dentist, consider how they handle kids who are anxious about their visit.
The fear of the unknown inflicts us all. We tend to avoid things when we don’t know what’s going to happen. Children don’t necessarily know what will happen to them when they go to the dentist, especially if they have seen programs or cartoons that depict it negatively.
Thus, you and your kiddo can play make-believe for a dentist appointment. Keep things casual, and don’t use tools that simulate the scariest dental instruments. Then, you can flip the script and let your child examine you, bypassing any hang-ups they may have before sitting in the big chair themselves.
For generations, people have wanted to seem relatable with their horrendous dentist experiences. Extractions and root canals are annoying and painful, but your children don’t need to know about those things. The odds are good that their visits will be low maintenance with a standard cleaning. However, they don’t understand the difference between a cleaning and a painful tooth procedure, so it’s better not to bring up the latter at all.
Don’t Bribe Them
Undoubtedly, kids respond better when they get a reward for doing something you want them to do. However, don’t try to bribe them to get them into the chair. Although they don’t understand all the elements of human psychology, they can realize an activity must be troublesome if you are offering up ice cream as a prize.
Bring Some Distractions
Your child may have a confidant that they trust even more than their mother, like a stuffed animal. It’s an excellent idea to bring their cuddle buddy along for the ride to help protect them from the big, bad dentist. You can also distract them with screen time if you are so inclined.
Be sure to follow these ways to destress your child before going to the dentist. Otherwise, their fear might linger from childhood into adolescence; nip it in the bud before that happens.