Working with children isn’t always the easiest. This is because you’re not just working with tiny human beings; you’re working with actual kids who might still not know how to function on their own two feet. These are children who still need adult supervision, and you’re the one in charge of taking care of them.
This applies to any profession that involves dealing with kids, such as being a pediatric dentist. When you’re running your own dental clinic, you won’t be interacting with the parents alone. If anything, your duty is to the kids that you’re helping to achieve better oral health and learn healthier habits.
And if you think that working with kids is a piece of cake, then you’ll be in for a treat. Besides the fact that children are often stubborn when it comes to forming healthy habits, they can also be forgetful about their responsibilities to themselves. This can include not remembering to brush their teeth at least twice a day or holding back on the sugary treats.
In this line of work, you must be more patient and understanding than anything, especially since you’re working with kids. Being aggressive, impatient, or hot-headed won’t get you anywhere, and it can cause the children to be afraid of you too. So, here’s how you can create a more kid-friendly environment for your patients:
Learn How to Communicate with Kids
Many adults still don’t know the first thing about proper communication, so you need to give credit to kids who actually try. When you’re communicating with children, what you should never do is tell them how they should feel; instead, you need to give them room to open up to you on their own.
For instance, if the kid you’re treating is in pain because of their aching tooth and overwhelmed at everything happening around them, you need to make them feel safe first. Then, when they’re calm enough to tell you how they feel, that’s when you take the opportunity to get a good look at the situation.
Patience is key in this profession, and if you can’t provide that, you won’t be able to work with kids. Children are smarter and more eloquent than you might think. They may not always be able to put their thoughts into words, so you need to learn how to read their non-verbal actions and context clues.
Make Their Comfort Your Topmost Priority
An uncomfortable child will only become more hesitant and closed off to your approaches, no matter how good your intentions are. That’s why you must make them feel safe and comfortable in your presence first so you can proceed with the procedure or treatment that they are there for.
Every child is different, so you can’t expect the same calming technique to work on all your patients. To address this, you can approach the parents and ask about what brings their children comfort when they’re feeling uneasy and restless. Then try to have those elements inside the room during their procedure.
You can also research calming techniques that work on most children and try that when nothing else works. By taking the time to establish a good relationship with the child before getting to the scary and painful procedure, it might become easier for you to communicate with one another without getting on each other’s nerves.
Help Them Understand Complex Concepts
Most kids have poor oral health because they don’t understand why it’s important. They could be used to getting scolded by their parents for not brushing their teeth before bed or not drinking enough water after eating sweets, but they don’t know why they should be doing those things in the first place.
That’s why as a dentist, what you can do is make the complex dental concepts easier for them to understand. You can use easy-to-digest analogies or stories to explain the basics of oral health in a language that they can relate to. Plus, it might even help them remember the morals of the story.
Children are not slow to comprehend; it’s just that their perceptions of the world are still developing, and they need proper guidance from an adult to understand what’s happening around them. You can take this chance to teach them about oral health and, hopefully, impart lessons that they will remember well into their adulthood.
You don’t have to speak in baby-talk or dumb down concepts for children to understand what you’re trying to teach them. They might be young, but all kids are intelligent human beings who deserve just as much respect as an adult. So give them the benefit of the doubt and communicate. You might be surprised at how mature they can be once you’re past the emotional outbursts.