A visit to the dentist has many perks, but unfortunately, it can be too much for children. Sure, you might have your full trust in your kid, but who’s to say that they trust themselves?
After all, they’re alone in a room with a stranger that uses metallic objects. It would be more surprising if they act calm despite being their first time at the dentist.
Unfortunately, having low confidence can influence their behavior, and they may even develop a fear of doctors, which is terrible news, especially since most medical checkups have a similar atmosphere. But how can you improve the confidence of your child?
Below are nine tips on how you can boost your kid’s self-esteem when at the dentist:
1. Don’t Stress Yourself Out About Your Kid’s First Dental Appointment
Parents are sometimes the ones who give their child dental anxiety by unknowingly creating a bigger fuss out of their kid’s first dental visit. When it comes to fear, children pick up on even the most subtle cues. That’s why it’s essential to prepare yourself. That way, you don’t end up stressing out about your child’s first dental appointment. Don’t forget that your kid depends on you for everything, and you don’t want to make meeting a dentist for the first time more complicated for your son or daughter than it has to be.
The best thing to do is to prevent building up the event more by not getting into too many details or getting too specific. However, telling your child that everything will be fine isn’t a good idea either. The last thing you’d want to happen is for them to feel like they let you down if they end up needing some kind of treatment. They may lose their faith in the process because of it.
When decay or cavities are found, and your kid needs a specific treatment, discuss how the procedure can help and ways it can be prevented in the future.
2. Opt For Pediatric Dentists
Pediatrics is a branch of medicine that deals with young ones’ medical care, such as infants and children. On that note, those who practice pediatrics will naturally have more experience dealing with children.
If your goal is to boost your child’s confidence, visiting a pediatric dentist is much better than general practitioners. Who knows—they may even know of a technique to improve their confidence while they’re working.
The bad news is it’s a bit challenging to look for pediatric dentists. In that case, you can visit https://www.familydentalhealth.com/, a website that offers pediatric dental services.
Since pediatric dentists have experience dealing with infants and toddlers, there should be no problem introducing the dentist to your child at a relatively early age.
3. Introduce Dentists At An Early Age
Experts say that the perfect age to start going to the dentist is six months after the first baby tooth appears. However, there’s no harm in starting earlier.
In fact, it might be a lot better for your kid’s confidence if you don’t wait six months and go to the dentist right away, and there’s a reason behind this. For starters, kids tend to fear doctors because of the unfamiliar environment, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
You can help them become more familiar with the dentist’s office if you start early. Moreover, since your child will visit a dentist earlier than other kids, they’ll feel as if they’re more well-versed since they have more experience than their peers, which can go a long way at boosting confidence.
4. Use The Right Words When Explaining What They Should Expect From A Dentist
At this point, you may already be preparing how to introduce dentists to your child. When you finally talk about it with your son or daughter, avoid words that may frighten them. Words that will make your kid more afraid of meeting a dentist include “shot,” “scary,” and “pain”.
Be careful with the words you use when explaining to your child what they should expect from a dentist. Keep in mind that even reassuring statements like, “the dentist won’t hurt you” may not help at all. That’s because your kid will only focus on the word “hurt”. Always make sure that your child doesn’t get anxious or frightened. Use neutral language that will not only soothe your child, but also help them feel secure and comfortable.
5. Teach Them About Oral Hygiene
It’s also worth teaching your child things that other kids don’t know. By doing so, they would feel like they’d do a better job at staying calm during dentist visits than most of their peers.
You can start by teaching them about oral hygiene, but of course, you need to know a lot about oral hygiene yourself first, and you can do that by searching for relevant blogs.
Don’t be afraid to get a bit deeper into the topic since it’ll most likely benefit the kids since they’ll know that they’re more knowledgeable than those older than them.
Naturally, it would also help if you don’t stick to theory. Make sure you also show them what you teach in practice, such as the correct way to brush, the perfect amount of toothpaste, and the likes. This should get them to become more confident than they already are.
6. Simulate The Visit To The Dentist
If this is the first time your child will go to the dentist, it will help a lot if they have relevant experience, and what better way to do that than by playing dentist.
Make it look like a role-playing game, and play a dentist’s role while your child is the patient. You should also ensure that you’re simulating the experience as much as possible.
It’s also a good idea to show pictures of the dental office to make the dry run more exciting, and this can inevitably spark enthusiasm in your child. The unique toys and neat play areas that some dentists have can be something that your kid can look forward to.
By doing this a couple of times, your child will become more familiar with the experience, and they’ll unconsciously think of dentist visits as nothing more than child’s play, so to speak.
7. Don’t Bribe Your Child
When they have to take their kids to the dentist, a common mistake that many parents make is resorting to bribes. The problem with using bribes as a way for your child to comply with dental appointments is that they reinforce the idea that dental visits are a scary thing. Again, what you’re trying to do here is instill the notion that a meeting with a dentist is no big deal; you need to stick to that. Your kid has to realize that a visit to a dentist happens every now and then and there’s nothing to worry about because the session happens pretty fast. For obvious reasons, avoiding bribes like fizzy drinks or candy is paramount.
8. Let Your Kid Take Some Control Of The Situation
A grown-up’s confusing and bewildering whims are terrifying for a child. However, many parents tend to forget that fact, especially when they’re already at a dental clinic. Your kid will be instructed to sit still after he or she gets ushered from the waiting room to the dental chair. All the orders given by the dentist can be daunting for your little one. Giving your child some control back, even in the littlest of ways, can alleviate their stress.
Inform your little one about what will happen once their name is called while you’re in the waiting room. Let them inform you themselves when they’re called instead of pulling them into the appointment room. Trust that they know what to do by looking at them as if they’re already a big boy or girl. If they’re confident enough to lead the way going into the appointment room, let them do so. It’s even a good idea to encourage them to shake the dentist’s hands if they’re feeling really chirpy.
9. Make Sure Your Child Dresses Up Comfortably
While it’s true that a dental appointment is a rare and reasonably formal occasion, it doesn’t really matter if your kid looks too casual or shabby. However, many parents still worry about how their children look and get tempted to dress up their little ones a bit. It’s essential to note, though, that it’s easier to speed through the dental check-up if your child feels more physically comfortable. That’s why experts advise parents to keep things as casual and as loose as possible.
Choose materials that aren’t too restrictive. Keep in mind that the dentist doesn’t really mind how your kid is dressed. What’s most important is that your little one is happy and comfortable, so they can get the job done without problems. In other words, don’t get too flustered yourself, which brings us back to the first tip above.
Visiting the dentist can help maintain your child’s oral health, but there’s a chance that your kids are too anxious to go along with your decision. However, you can make it a lot easier for you and them by boosting their confidence with these tips.