As a parent it is so hard to watch your child struggle with anxiety but as a child it can be paralyzing and terrifying to go through. We all want what’s best for your child and of course we understand that if your child has dental anxiety they may not be their normal happy- go-lucky-self while they’re in the office. Just relax...there isn’t much we haven’t seen! Be as patient as you can because even if the fear seems silly to you, it is very real to them.
I put together this little list to help you in your efforts to alleviate your child’s anxiety.
Cool Calm & Collected ~ It is important for the parent to stay calm and talk about the appointment in a happy, positive manner. A child can sense your nervous energy and will mirror that emotion as well.
Information is Vital ~ Prepare your child with information about the appointment prior to the appointment. Fear of the unknown can cause a lot of anxiety in a child. Depending on the child’s age you could even help them role play and let them play the dentist and brush their dolls teeth. Make sure you talk about the noises they may hear, the tastes they may experience and sensations they may feel on their teeth or gums. Be sure to avoid vocabulary like, shot, pain and words that bring about fear.
Relaxation Techniques are Helpful ~ Take some time to teach your child deep breathing techniques. Inhaling deeply and slowly exhaling in a rhythmical manner has proven to be helpful and relaxing for children during high anxiety situations.
Shower them with Verbal Affirmation ~ Your child will be looking to you to make sure they are doing the right thing. Make sure you are talking with them and letting them know they are doing a good job, and that you are proud of them for being so brave.
Communication is Key ~ Prior to the appointment teach your child that they can signal the dentist or hygienist if they need to stop or rest for a minute. This will help them feel like they have a little control and they will know that taking a break if needed is okay if they are becoming overly anxious.
The Art of Distraction ~ Helping your child by getting their mind off the procedure is also another way to alleviate stress and anxiety. Talk to them and help them visualize a fun happy memory or an exciting event that is coming up soon.
Children can become anxious about going to the dentist for any number of reasons. Getting them started at a young age, being consistent in their visits and sticking to one dental office can help prevent some anxiety from starting. Once a child becomes anxious to go to the dental office it can become a challenge for them and for you as their parent to get them into the office willingly. As always we would love to walk this journey with you so give us a call and let us know how we can help you and your child today.
Questions about your child's first appointment? Check out these tips! You will also receive a free coloring page!