There are plenty of things that might scare your children. Monsters, clowns and the dark might be on the list. But one of the most difficult fears to deal with as a parent is when kids are afraid of the dentist.
As a parent its your duty to protect your children from things that frighten them. However, the dentist is mandatory for maintaining good health and hygiene. So how do you make them feel safe while keeping them healthy?
Keep reading to check out these tips on how to help your scared child get through their dental visit.
Bring Along a Comfort Item
One of the best ways to ease a scared child is to give them a physical item that they equate with comfort and safety. This could be something like a specific toy, stuffed animal, blanket or book. Most children have favorite or preferred toys that they often carry around with them inside and outside of the house.
If your child has a comfort object then encourage and allow them to bring it into the dentist’s office with them. Reassure them that the item is there for support and can help them face the fear. Be sure to consult with the dentist about what types of toys are permitted during the session.
Play Soothing Music
Sometimes the silence or loud noises from tools during a dental visit can be intimidating for children. It may be helpful to create a more child-friendly atmosphere.
Consider playing soothing music during the visit. You may also find luck with playing their favorite songs, such as tracks from their favorite movies. Try to keep them relaxed and distracted with music that they are interested in or find comfort in.
Hold Their Hand
Children find security in knowing that their parent or a trusted guardian is beside them and won’t leave in the event of something frightening. You can help your scared child by holding their hand throughout the visit to remind them that you are close and there for support.
You can allow them to do hand squeezes in case they need relief from the pain. Making your child feel like they aren’t alone can be a big help during a dental session.
Tell Jokes & Light Conversation
Telling jokes and keeping up a light conversation is a great way to take the pressure and tension off of the situation. Distract your child by talking about topics that they love and will engage in for a long period of time. For instance, bring up their favorite cartoon shows, what they love learning at school or a family vacation they’re looking forward to.
Ask the staff to participate in the conversation as well. This tip also helps a scared child to trust the dentist and let their guard down.
Find a Friendly Dentist
Most children are attracted to bright, energetic and humorous personalities. If your scared child is struggling with anxiety around dentist appointments then it would be beneficial to find a friendly dentist that has a very approachable demeanor.
Try meeting with the dentist before you schedule a visit for your child or ask other parents for recommendations. Get a feel for the dentist’s personality to determine whether or not they would be a good fit for your child. Also scope out the dental office environment to make sure it creates a fun, comforting atmosphere.
Promise a Reward
Parents use reward systems successfully for their children all the time. This is basically you promising your child that they will receive a sort of treat or prize after they’re completed a task, challenge, etc. This might be a great time to implement a reasonable token exchange with your child.
Encourage your child to brave through their dentist visit using something that they love. Give them a few healthy choices, such as going to their favorite restaurant or visiting the playground. Also, see if the dental office has anything to offer like stickers small toys for the child to look forward to.
Allow Them to Dress Up
What child hasn’t tried to go to school in their princess costume or out to the supermarket dressed as their favorite character? Letting your child feel empowered by allowing them to “disguise” themselves could definitely work out in your favor.
One strategy that may be best is dressing them as a superhero and assigning a superpower to them, such as courage. Using this type of imaginative play this way can help encourage your child to be more confident in scary situations.
Talk Them Through It
A lot of the times a scared child is that frightened because they don’t know what to expect and may have made up some assumptions about the scenario in their head. Giving your child a step-by-step play on what’s going on and how things work could help to ease their minds.
Ask the dentist to explain what is happening during the process and maybe even show the child the tools as they go along. This will eliminate the element of surprise that might be intimidating them and also help to build trust.
Ask About Sedation
Although sedating a child is the last thing that some parents want to do, it might be an option that’s best for your kid if they are severely struggling. Consider requesting mild, harmless methods, such as laughing gas. This helps the child to relax without requiring them to be unconscious or unable to function at all.
Ready to Help Your Scared Child Face Their Fears Once and For All?
Seeing your child battle fear and anxiety can be heavy. But there are ways to help transition a scared child out of their hesitation and into bravery.
Use some of the tips listed above to assist your child in having more enjoyable dental sessions.
It’s important to keep up with hygienic visits regularly so contact us today if you need to schedule your child a visit.