One of the most difficult aspects of raising healthy kids is the battle we face every time we take our children for an appointment. Whether it’s for a dentist or a doctor’s appointment, it can feel incredibly stressful, and while we all may shudder at the thought of visiting the dentist as a child, we need to understand how and why children become anxious. We also need to ensure that they can overcome their fears. How can we do this?
Preparing Them in Advance
A lot of children are naturally fearful of the unknown, as we are as adults. If we are going to take them to the dentist, we should make sure they are as in the know as possible so the experience is a more positive one. It’s easier said than done, but giving them a brief explanation about what it’s like to visit can be a starting point, but we also need to make sure that we don’t create unrealistic scenarios to the point it plays havoc with their levels of expectation.
Go for a Trusted Professional
If we take our children to the same dentist, our child can build up a relationship with one professional. This isn’t always the case, for example, when it comes to visiting the doctor, but consistency is vital because this will help our children to overcome their fears gradually.
Scheduling the Appointments Strategically
If you are taking children to the doctor, you have got to be careful how you schedule the appointments. You should not schedule them around a specific event, for example, their birthday. Additionally, it’s important to schedule appointments during times that will not throw their routine into chaos. This is especially true when our children are in preschool.
Be Nearby During the Appointment
If your child is fearful of going to the dentist or the doctor, going into the chair or on the bed is going to make them feel like they’re on their own. You’ve got to be as close to them as possible during any appointments. The best advice is to stay within arm’s reach, so if they become upset pretty quickly you can sweep in and comfort them.
As parents, we can easily find ourselves distracted by our phone buzzing. It’s a lesson for every single one of us parents, turning our cell phone off during a child’s appointment, but also outside of appointments, means that we won’t feel distracted and we can focus on our children’s well-being.
Have a Reward System
It’s a combination of using the right language (“you were so brave”), but also ensuring you make a big deal of what they’ve just done. Giving them a reward, whether it’s their favorite piece of candy or time in front of their favorite movie is going to create a far better perception of the experience.
It’s certainly not easy because it may bring back memories of us as children feeling fear in the dentist or doctor’s office, but there are ways around it.