When recalling your own childhood fears about dentistry, it’s easy to understand how and why children are anxious about their first visits to the dentist. Here are all the best calming strategies for kids to help them cope with their visit to a dentist.
Children’s anxiety about visiting the dentist can be heightened by a well-intentioned adult or parent speaking to them about their medical or dental appointments.
This combination of factors alongside other concerns and worries can heighten a child’s nervousness and anxiety.
6 Strategies to Calm Nervous Children Before Appointments With Happy Kids Dental
That’s why Happy Kids Dental, a specialist paediatric dentist with two London dental practices in Marylebone and Chelsea, have created this list of strategies to help your child with their first dentist visit.
1. Help Them Manage Their Feelings & Emotions
Children aren’t able to handle fear, anxiety or anything they believe to be harmful in the same way adults do. It is therefore best to help them accept fear as a normal reaction – rather than giving the impression that it’s not real or acceptable, allow them to express their feelings about the approaching appointment or present situation.
Affirm your confidence in them but don’t sugar-coat their upcoming experience – ask questions without fuelling anxiety. Asking ‘how are you feeling about visiting the doctor/dentist?’ is a much better question than ‘are you nervous?’.
2. Lift (Rather Than Lower) Their Expectations With Advanced Preparation
It’s important that you avoid creating unrealistic scenarios that lower their expectations to a negative level.
For example, promising that a medical or dental visit is ‘no big deal’ or that it ‘won’t be painful’ are promises that might be easily broken. Happy Kids Dental reward children’s bravery by giving them a toy or little present at the end of every visit.
3. Maintain Consistency With a Trusted Dentist
Over time, a child who sees the same professional will begin to build a rapport with that person and start to trust them. It is also important to make sure your own trust in your chosen doctor or dentist is evident to your child.
4. Use At-Home Role Play
Many kids play ‘doctor’ on occasion and role-play scenarios can help take the edge off of upcoming dental appointments. Use play instruments to listen to your child’s heart, look into their ears, check their teeth, etc. Playful routines can normalise what might be an anxiety-producing experience.
5. Help Your Dentist Find Common Ground With Your Child
Equip your care-provider as much information about your child as possible; what they enjoy doing, and playing with, what they like watching on TV, the sports they’re involved in, their hobbies, favourite foods/snacks, etc.
Happy Kids Dental, being a specialist paediatrics dental practice, saves all relevant information about your child’s likes and dislikes in their system and have children’s favourite shows on TV when they arrive, as well as asking about their pets and siblings.
6. Embody Calm and Patience Yourself
Remember that anxiety or fear can be contagious – however the opposite is also true; if you’re cool, calm and collected it’s more likely that your child will be too and mirror your behaviour.
Calming strategies for kids are supported by an equally calming environment that helps them overcome anxiety and ensures a positive experience with their care providers. This is what Happy Kids Dental clinics strive for at all times.
Happy Kids Dental offer specialist paediatric dentist services in-house in two London dental practices in Marylebone and Chelsea, with child-focused dentists who make the visit fun for kids and relaxing for adults. Find out more at happykidsdental.co.uk.