New experiences can frighten people of all ages, especially children. The dentist's office is filled with unnerving sounds, smells and activities that can cause kids to become tense. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to help your child stay calm during a dental visit. Here are three fixes for dental anxiety in children .
Bring a Friend
Cuddling and holding another person makes everyone feel better, and children are no exception. While you can't climb into the dentist's chair with your child, you can make sure that your child has a fuzzy friend to hold tightly.
Before your child's dentist visit, ask the child to help you choose a stuffed animal or special doll to bring along to the appointment. Explain to the child that the stuffed friend will be there to squeeze if any nervous feelings arise.
Most dentists who treat children are familiar with young patients bringing along a special toy for comfort. In fact, the dentist will usually offer to check the stuffed animal's teeth before looking into the child's mouth. This way the child can see what is going to happen and will be more comfortable with the procedure.
Teach Deep Breathing
Teach your child to relieve anxiety by taking a big breath in through the mouth and letting it out slowly through the nose. With eyes closed, the child can imagine a comforting setting or enjoyable place.
Children who learn this relaxation technique can then apply it to any stressful situation and will feel much better.
To make the breathing technique even more effective, add a few drops of a calming essential oil like chamomile or lavender to a cotton ball. As the child to breathe in the scent.
Promise a Reward
Let your child know that something special will happen after the dental visit is over. This can be a trip to pick out a special toy, dinner out at a favorite restaurant, or a stop at the playground. This isn't bribery but rather teaching the child to associate something positive with getting through a difficult experience. It also gives the child something to think of or look forward to after the dental visit it over.
Don't withhold the promised reward if the child cries or is afraid during the dental visit. It is your job to make the experience as enjoyable as possible, even if the child is not helping.
You can help your child control dental anxiety by modeling a calm and pleasant attitude and by trying these simple tips.