Getting a child to the dentist can be emotionally and physically draining for both the parent and the child. It helps when your dentist makes the visit quick and painless, but that isn’t always the first thing in a child’s mind. This is one parent’s strategy to getting their child to the dentist- what’s your strategy?

Step 1: The Lie

  • Goal: Move child into transportation vehicle and en route to the dentist.
  • Strategy: Shamelessly lie about destination. Replace “dentist” with said child’s preferred place (ie. park, playground, grandmother’s house, ice cream shop, etc.).
  • Sign of Success: Child’s presence while en route to dentist. Reaction of child and degree of excitement may vary per lie and per child.

Step 2: The Bribe
To be implemented once child realizes the truth of Step 1.

  • Goal: Placate child.
  • Strategy: Bribe child with reward after dentist (ie. trip to promised destination from Step 1, new toy, favourite food, etc.). Value of bribe needed will vary depending on level of child’s reluctance. Remind child of how quick and painless the last visit was.
  • Sign of Success: Hollering/crying reduced to sniffles. Pause in child’s effort to escape through sheer will.

Step 3: The Distraction
To be implemented once in dentist’s office.

  • Goal: Minimize child’s level of stress while waiting for appointment.
  • Strategy: Distract child with TV, toy, technology, noises, games, etc. Tactic will vary depending on immediate availability of means.
  • Sign of Success: Distracted child.

Step 4: The Handover

  • Goal: Transfer child to dentist and staff.
  • Strategy: Delicately hand over child (possibly with some apologies, depending on level of child’s reluctance). Relax with some magazines, now that child is in the capable hands of the dentist.
  • Sign of Success: Child’s presence in dentist chair. Decrease in blood pressure.

Step 5: The Fulfillment

  • Goal: Reward child for successful visit. Regain any lack of trust resulting from Step 1.
  • Strategy: Greet returning child with pride and hugs. Thank dentist and make note of advice and any to-do’s. Schedule next appointment. Fulfill bribe given in Step 2.
  • Sign of Success: Happy child. Dimished light of betrayal in child’s eyes.

Do you do any of these steps, or do you have an ingenious strategy of your own? If so, please let us and all the parents out there know!

A parent’s headache: getting a child to the dentist

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