Convincing children that they need to go to the dentist and that it’s good for them is quite a tall order for many parents, and no amount of bouncy balls or silly putty is going to change some kids’ minds. If you are at your wits’ end with helping your kids overcome their fear of the dentist, below are some tips that might help both you and them.
Let Them Observe It First
It is always advisable to let your child observe the procedure first before actually taking them in for a cleaning, check up, etc. A good way to demystify the experience is to let them see a dentist in action, and let them see how most patients handle it.
It is always good to let the receptionist and hygienist staff know that it is your child’s first visit. This way, they can tailor their behaviour accordingly. It is also good to similarly prepare your child for their visit. Give them plenty of notice so that they have time to formulate questions, ask them, and have them answered, so their minds are at ease.
Another good way to dispel fear of the dentist is to do some role-playing at home before going. You can count your child’s teeth and pretend to clean them while making funny noises, and also let your child take on the role of dentist, cleaning your teeth while you casually and patiently let them do so, so they see that there is no reason to overreact.
Make the Visit to the Dentist a Game
It’s all about the context with kids. A loud, scary metal tool in their mouth can be just that, or it can be something fun, like a spaceship or a race car. Make a game of imagining that the dentist’s tools are aliens speaking in a funny language, or something else with a positive and funny connotation.
Parental Attitude is the key
If the parent(s) are apprehensive about the child going to the dentist, the child will be apprehensive. By far the most important factor is the attitude of the parent which should be positive and nonchalant. Just as the parent drops the youngster off at school and says “Have a great time. I’ll see you later,” this approach will instill in the young patient that he or she is in a safe place and has nothing to fear.