Being a good parent means that you know how to recognize and react to your child’s emotions and provide adequate care for them. Children are scared of the world, and parents have to learn how to deal with their child’s imagination and help them overcome irrational fears or phobias.
It takes time for young children to learn the importance of oral health and why they need to go to the dentist. But, before they reach that level of understanding and awareness, most children will be afraid to enter the dentist’s office. If you push your children to suppress their fear, you will create more damage. That’s why it’s vital to learn how to approach them and help them overcome their fear of dentists.
Be patient with them
If your child has dental anxiety, you should be patient with them. Observe their reactions and emotional response when you talk about dentists and try to understand the roots of their behaviour. Overcoming fear is a long process, and it’s advisable not to expect a lot in the first few days or weeks after you start talking about the upcoming visit, because they won’t be willing to step outside their comfort zone.
Don’t put a lot of pressure on them. Keep in mind that forcing your child to do something that scares them is traumatic and can trigger their feelings of stress and anxiety.
Try alternative solutions
Have a pretend dentist visit before you take your child to their dentist appointment. It will help them associate positive feelings to the unfamiliar experience, and it will be easier to persuade them that dentists are not as scary as they think.
Do your child a favor and don’t teach them that they shouldn’t be afraid. Fear is a normal response, and they should feel it from time to time. However, your job as a parent is to teach them how to handle those feelings and conquer the unknown no matter how scary the new experience may be.
Be careful about what you share with them
Children can take things quite literally. Talking about pain and anesthesia in front of your children is a bad move. They will create a negative association in their heads, and once that happens, it will be hard to convince them to visit their dentist voluntarily. Instead, talk about their smile and their beautiful teeth, and tell them that their dentist will make the teeth look whiter or shinier.
Most children have their first set of teeth by the time they turn three, and it’s advisable to find a dentist for your child during that period. It will be easier to control their reaction and protect their feelings from outside influence. Once your child becomes aware that people who work in a dentist’s office are not bad, the experience of other children won’t trigger a negative emotional response. If you don’t know how to choose the best dentist’s office, learn more about dentistry for children and try to determine whether the dentists in your area can provide adequate care for your child’s teeth.
Don’t be afraid
Some moms tend to get more scared than their children and can create a negative emotional response. Learn how to be strong, and if you’re feeling worried, try not to express those emotions in front of your kids. They are going to be alright, and nothing bad is going to happen once they enter the dentist’s office.
Show emotional support, and reward their good behaviour. Once you start applying this method, it will be easier to link positive feelings to certain situations and circumstances.
If after all your efforts you still can’t do anything to convince your child to follow your example, you should take them to a child’s psychologist and start fixing the issue. Don’t allow your child to miss the appointment, because if they manage to find a way to do it once, they will do it again. If you want to ensure that your child is willing to take good care of their oral health, you should start brushing your teeth together and talk about positive dentist experience as often as you can.
Jasmine Anderson is a lifestyle and beauty blogger based in Australia. She is an incurable daydreamer, who finds inspiration in little, everyday moments. Spending time at her cozy home office with her two cats, writing her blog, is her favorite thing in the world.