Some children are confident little people who love to meet others. Some are more shy and reserved and take time to open up. The fact is every child will react to strangers – especially those who will be performing a health or hygiene service – differently. While a gentle voice and touch can make a haircut go comfortably, that isn’t the case with everyone. In particular, doctors and dentists can be hard for children because there may be discomfort or even pain involved in the check-up.
Being scared of the dentist is natural, even if they have been before. After all, the process of professionally cleaning teeth is uncomfortable. You have hands and metal tools and loud noises all involved, and you cannot move during the procedure or else just drag it on for longer.
Thankfully there are many ways to help your child if they are scared of professionals like doctors or dentists.
1. Start Early
Doctor and dentist visits and check-ups should start early. Doctors should be very familiar to kids, and ideally should be consistent with providing the most comfort. The same even applies to your dentist. Dental visits should start within the first year, and ideally within six months of their first tooth appearing. Regular cleans and check-ups are a must to safely guide their gums and teeth along through puberty.
2. Choose the Right Professionals
It isn’t just going early and getting your kids used to the dentist or doctor. You also want to choose the right dentist in the first place. One of the biggest tips in this dental guide on what to do if your child is scared of the dentist is to choose a family dentistry or a pediatric dentist who specializes in working with children. This doesn’t just mean experience working with baby teeth, but experience working with children as a whole.
3. Understand Why They Are Afraid
The second step is to understand why they are afraid. A bad dentist visit or perhaps a flu jab that hurt too much are very common reasons why kids start to fear the doctor or dentist. They are not, however, reasons to stay away. Though you need to push your kids to continue going, it isn’t right to do so without addressing their fears.
Understand why they are scared, and even go through it with their doctor or dentist so that possible arrangements can be made, or at least so that the healthcare professional can talk them through what will happen. Often, it isn’t so much the slight pain from a vaccine that scares them, but the unexpectedness of the pain itself.
4. Show the Behaviour You Want Your Kids to Emulate
Find episodes of your kids’ favorite shows where they go to the dentist or doctor. Talk positively about your own experiences. Highlight the benefits of going to the dentist or doctor regularly. These are all excellent ways to keep doctor and dentist visits positive and to help calm their fears. You want to listen to them, yes, but you also don’t want their fears to become blown out of proportion. By building a positive environment, you can help them develop a good relationship with their healthcare providers.