The other day, I was sharing …”because things are going so much better, I have less to write about!”
Well…The Universe must have heard me loud and clear because today, it provided me with a REAL writing opportunity!
Things started out well in the morning. Pick up after school went fine…until my son realized that he was not going home for his usual snack and relaxation. Instead, he was headed to the dentist. Yes…he had been warned and reminded. There was access to a snack, a Nintendo DS, and a charged Ipad all hoping to ease the discomfort of this appointment. None of these things seemed to make a difference to my increasingly emotional son.
The complaining turned into arguing and then escalated into a tantrum. Panic set in and I felt forced to leave the dentist office.
Embarrassed and angry, my TBP got what he wanted because I felt helpless. Despite pleading, negotiating, and threatning…he refused to cooperate and made the cleaning impossible to complete. The tantrum spilled over into the car ride and erupted at home. It continued longer than I wanted, especially after a busy day of work.
Later…much later, everyone was more calm. At this point, I heard more about the “why” of the tantrum than I cared to hear in the dentist office and among onlookers.
“The bright lights hurt my eyes! You know how sensitive my eyes are and you didn’t care!”
I know that sensory issues play a part in today’s struggle. I also know that there have been times where the fighting wasn’t worth it, so we excused him from the crowded party early or allowed him to miss the 2nd grade musical. Perhaps this sends a confusing message…
I explained that there were somethings that are nonnegotiable. The doctor and dentist and certain family responsibilities fall under that category. He listened. He repeatedly apologized and I bit my tongue. Yes, the apologies were important, but they hadn’t wiped away the hurtful words that were thrown my way in the heat of his anger.
We talked about possible solutions for next time. Sunglasses, a towel over his eyes, closing his eyes, and listening to music were all possible solutions. We discussed the need to use his words and explain to the hygenist about the light and his sensitive eyes. We talked about the need for this appointment and that cooperation would make it go faster.
At this point, we have a call into the dentist to apologize and reschedule and all computers have been put on hold until further notice.
Those of you with strong-willed children or those with sensory issues, do you have any advice besides “an apple a day keeps the dentist away?”
Sorry you had a rough day. When it gets “extreme” I pull out the worst-case consequences(your teeth will rot, get cavities, etc) if he doesn’t comply. It works, however I don’t like using the fear-factor as it can lead to anxiety, so I’m looking for new strategies.
Sounds like he needed time and space to calm down and you did the right thing by removing him-I have a feeling youre not the first parent to do that at the dentist. Dentist make me anxious too. Our dentist provides sunglasses to kids which works great.
On a side note my son became more tolerant of changes to his schedule after he went through vision therapy(he’s actually still in OT). It was an unexpected,pleasant side effect:-). We have less tantrums and meltdowns now.
Thank you for the support and thoughtful comments! I pulled out all the “reasons” for the dentist and he STILL wasn’t having it!
I know we aren’t the first family to meet this challenge, but I hope that it goes better at the rescheduled cleaning visit.
I will let you know the outcome 😉
Everyone needs support in these situations. Our good friend could be you, similar circumstances and I could hear her speaking through your words…
We have a lot to do with them and over time and with understanding he is improving, but there are always those moments, triggered by something “thrown” from out of the blue. I guess that is one of the keys, keeping surprises to a minimum. I’m surmising though…
Will be seeing them tonight in fact!
Take care 🙂
Thank you for the kind words!
We try to limit surprises and give warnings, but it didn’t help today.
One good thing…he was exhausted and went to bed early without arguments.
Here’s to a better day!
I will be highlighting your writing to our good friend! 🙂
You did all you could do!! There are many adults who NEVER go to the dentist because it makes them anxious. Hopefully he will be able to go back and finish the cleaning.
We have it rescheduled and hoping for a better appointment! I do have to say that I am a bit nervous…
Good Luck!! Seems like they could give him a little something to relax him. I will be thinking of you while I am getting my daughters tooth capped after tripping on her own shoelace and breaking 1/2 of her front permanent tooth off!! Reminder to all children, TIE YOUR SHOES!!!
Oh no!! I am so sorry about that! That must have been upsetting! I guess that is a good reason to keep the Velcro 😉
Our oldest has complete tantrums and meltdowns at the dentist. He has to be physically restrained to get a cleaning done. Our dentist (pediatric) has recommended sedation so he can complete the cleanings and seal the molars. The idea of sedation scares me but I wonder what other options we have. We’ve tried the handheld games, holding him in our laps, etc but nothing seems to work.
We are concerned that we are headed toward sedation too. People don’t understand why we can’t “make him do it because we said so!”
I know that people do what they have to, but the idea of physically restraining is a tough one too. I can’t imagine the next trip is better!
We have gotten over the anguish is haircuts and hope the dentist cleaning is next! If I discover any secrets, I will share them!!
Blessings to you and yours!
Hi Twice Baked
I feel for you. I am so grateful Master Edge was gifted with great teeth because his hygiene has often been suspect! It is his so called “typical” sister that has developed the phobia of the dentist. She had to have two teeth pulled early and is now terrified. My suggestion would be to make going to the dentist non-frightening. For-go any treatment where possible and sedate if not. I would try to find a dentist who is up for some short visits where all your child does is sit in the chair and under supervision explore the instruments and stuff in the room. Perhaps a friendly dentist might be prepared to give a guided tour. If you can demystify the environment then that may help. Arriving in a dentists treatment room for a small child must be a bit like stepping on to a space ship. They are pretty odd places!
I would do this a few times and then ask your child if he would like to help the dentist look at your teeth. Much fun at your expense will hopefully ensue. The dentist can be adding value all the way through the process by explaining the importance of caring for our teeth. Maybe your partner could also have her teeth examined by the new apprentice dentist as well.
After the first couple of visits you can offer your boy the opportunity to have his teeth looked at. (only looked at nothing else) Allow him to choose the time when he is ready. Hopefully he will eventually be able to manage his fears and submit to treatment without sedation.
This incremental approach to dealing with fear is often used by psychologists to treat Arachnophobia and the like and I think that it is worth considering it for dealing with the fears and anxieties of our children, some of which are truly phobic.
Also definitely provide sunglasses! These are required here and all patients wear then during treatment as the light can damage eyes. Maybe owning special cool dentist glasses might help you get him there.
I know, I know I have described what could happen in an ideal world and with just the right dentist. It will probably also be expensive! Still maybe worth a shot for your child’s teeth.
PS If he doesn’t believe that there will be no treatment then put it in writing! Sometimes that can tip the balance.
Great ideas that we can try! I always appreciate hearing what has worked for others…part of the reason why I love this blog 🙂
Thanks. I wish I had been this organised. Fortunately our visits were pretty non-eventful for him (Sunglasses were always provided) from the start and have continued that way. He has never required any treatment other than a washing. I did prepare the dentist for his visit and had asked around for particularly child friendly types. We also didn’t proceed with any intervention unless he gave permission. My poor daughter on the other hand was quite traumatised by the removal of two baby teeth and she always seems to need something done. She is very fearful and requires careful handling. However she is the more rational of the two so we can cajole her in more conventional ways.