Taking a kid to the dentist is not a hassle-free experience for any parent. Have you ever heard of a kid who is not afraid to go to the dentist for the first or second time? The reason is that kids are not comfortable with dental objects touching their teeth. They do not take the idea of metal objects being used to treat them very lightly.
They have also heard stories about frightening experiences at the dentist, mostly from their peers. So for starters, here is one tip for you: Try your best to not expose your kid to the stereotypical perceptions about dentists. Half the job would be done there itself!
Having said that, here are 5 tips to help kids overcome the fear of dentists:
Be the role model
Your kid learns a lot from you. The child looks up to you! Use this opportunity to shape your kid’s perceptions and beliefs in a positive manner. Take him/her with you when you need to visit the dentist for yourself.
Let him/her watch the entire process and do your best to make sure that you do not panic. The idea is to let the kid believe that if you can undergo the treatment with ease, maybe there isn’t much to fear the dentist!
Play the role of a dentist
This is called positive role play. During your spare time, spend some time with your kid to prep him/her up for the visit to the dentist. You play the dentist’s role, and let your child play himself/herself!
Act in the friendliest manner possible, to leave an impression that dentists are friendly by nature. This would help immensely in overcoming the child’s fear of dentists!
Begin at an early stage
It is highly recommended that you start preparing your child for his/her dental visit at an early age. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that you should let your kids get used to dental objects like floss touching their teeth, as early as the age of 2! “Flossing should begin when 2 teeth touch, typically between 2 and 2½ years of age. Some children may only need a few back teeth flossed and others may need flossing between all their tight teeth, depending on dental spacing.”
Let your kid know that there is a prize for their bravery. Treat them with their favorite meal or toy, post the visit. Knowing that there is something to gain out of the process is much likely to help the kid stay motivated for the visit.
Use a fear strategy!
Sometimes, the fear of consequences of not doing something could work wonders on kids! Tell them about how much cavities hurt, how bacteria would feast inside their mouth, and how they could go toothless if they don’t visit the dentist!
These tactics work on most children. Besides, your persuasion skills play a major part in overcoming the kid’s fear. Since you understand your kid the best, you would know which tone or conversational style would best suit your purpose. Good luck!