Try using the '3 P's': Pretend, Practice, & Pair to take the sting out of necessary outings. With a little time and preparation, kids of all ages and skill levels can learn to tolerate these and many other difficult activities.
1) Pretend: Start with acting out the challenging situation on a regular basis. Get a toy dentist or doctor kit and take turns with your child pretending to be the doctor/patient or dentist/patient. Recruit siblings, favorite stuffed animals, or family members to join in the fun. Make a visual schedule to use during the play-acting so that you can use it for the actual activity later.
2) Practice: How often does your child go into the dentist's office? Probably when he has an appointment, right? Generally these visits are few enough that the situation feels unfamiliar and possibly has negative connotations from a previous (sometimes traumatic) experience. Talk to the office about visiting a few times leading up to a regular appointment. Have the child interact with the receptionist, meet the doctor or hair-stylist, and sit in the chair or lie down on the table. Familiarity can make the experience more understandable and less scary for a child.
3) Pair: Your child may be associating a trip to the doctor with a painful shot or a hair-cut with loud clippers. During the practice phases, start pairing the visit with something more pleasurable that he only gets to have while the appointment is going on. For instance, bring a favorite book or character and let the child hold it while sitting in the dentist chair and then remove it when you have the child get out of the chair. Or let the child play a preferred Ipad game while you acclimate them to the clippers noise and then remove the game when you turn the clippers off. Your child will start to associate the dentist, doctor, or hair-cut with a much more fun activity.
The 3 P's can be modified to improve your child's experience with any challenging, infrequent activity like getting a picture with Santa, going on an airplane, or whatever!
For more information or assistance on making a specific activity easier for you and your child, please contact A Child's Potential, Inc. through the contact page on our website or visit us on Facebook.
All children can learn.
All children's potential is unlimited.