Going to the dentist can be scary for a young child. The truth is, even some adults have dental phobia. In fact, WebMD reports that between 9 and 20 percent of American adults don't go to the dentist because they're afraid. But the last thing you want to do is to make your child afraid too.
Although fear of the dentist is a common problem seen in pediatric dental clinics, a study published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry suggest that a parent's attitude plays a key role in preventing fear.
Being Aware of Subjective Fear
Often, a child's fear of the dentist is subjective. Kids who hear their parents talking about unpleasant dental visits may develop feelings of anxiety and fear related to seeing the dentist.
An adult's words can make a huge impact on how a child will feel about going to the dentist. For this reason, there are things you don't want to say in front of your child. For example, don't talk about how it hurt when you had a tooth pulled.
If taking your child to the dentist makes you feel uncomfortable, ask someone else to come along to help lessen both of your anxieties. Kids pick up on their parents' fears, and dental phobia is something you don't want to pass on to your child. The less nervous you appear, the more comfortable and relaxed your child will be when visiting the dentist.
Going to Adult Dental Appointments Alone
Don't take your child along with you to your own dental appointments. You may not realize it, but your child will know if you're anxious. It's important to be a calm role model, so if you're nervous, it's better for your child not to see you in that situation.
A dental treatment that causes discomfort is another good reason not to have your child with you when you're in the dentist's chair. When kids see a parent in pain, they may associate even a routine dental checkup of their own as an experience that's going to hurt.
Displaying an Attitude of Positivity
When trying to calm your child's fears about going to the dentist, the last thing you want to do is to talk about your own past experiences -- especially the negative ones. For starters, "hurt" and "pain" are taboo words.
To keep discussions about dental appointments on a positive note, talk about how visits to the dentist help keep teeth healthy. Use a light and calming tone of voice when you speak to help your child feel safe.
Be honest if your child asks questions about what to expect, but don't offer too many details. Children have a sixth sense when it comes to hearing the truth. A simple explanation may be enough to satisfy a small, inquisitive mind.
By overcoming your own fears of the dentist, you can help your child do the same. Just like children need to talk about their fears, discussing your fears with your dentist can help relieve your anxieties.
Sending the "Right" Subliminal Message
Parents who promise children treats as a reward if they're good during a dental visit can instill fear without knowing it. Kids are smart, so if you bribe them to be good, they are going to wonder why you think they won't be good.
Instead, make your child's trips to the dentist entertaining events. Do something fun with your child after the visit. Go to a movie, visit an interactive children's museum, or take your child out to eat at a favorite family restaurant.
It doesn't matter where you go as long as your child finds it fun. Spending special time with kids after taking them to the dentist helps them associate the visits with other, more desirable activities they look forward to. Visit a website like http://www.childrensdent.com for more ideas on how to help your child overcome their anxieties.