Overcome Your Fears of the Dentist and Life

When we used to go to Great Adventure, I’d be hesitant to go on the rollercoaster and my grandmother (dad’s momma) used to say the pearl “whaaaaat? What’s the big deal, close your eyes real tight, scream your head off and before you know it, the ride is over.”

The Thrill of the Chase
So that is exactly what I did and loved it. It added a new 'I’m scared out of my pants' level of adventure. My fellow riders either joined in or laughed at me but I had a blast and found my courage in being scared.

My kids love to scare themselves silly by running really fast, being chased and playing hide and seek. They shrill with excited expectant fear.

Yet, my grandma’s method of facing your fears with your eyes closed and screaming I found was not conducive at the dentist office.

I distinctly remember the first dentist my parents took me to, I freaked out and didn’t stop. Neither the dentist nor my parents knew what to do but there was no way in hell I was going to cooperate let alone open my mouth and let that guy in there.

A dentist is a particularly intimate relationship, I mean they go into your mouth. Any person/doctor who goes into an orifice I had best like!

Learning to Love the Dentist
If fear is the true opposite of love how do we convert this fear into love?

I mean how do you love the dentist, particularly when he’s holding a 3-inch needle that he wants to put in your mouth and has tools that “drill” your teeth. Love aint coming so fast.

Safety Signals
My mom searched for another pediatric dentist and eventually found one who I not only liked, I loved. He was so patient, calm and explained to me what to expect. He explained how I could signal him if something hurt like raise my left hand and he’ll stop while he was working. I quickly transitioned into a model patient.

He also introduced me to Mr. Thirsty. Mr. Thirsty is my boyfriend and we are still going steady. With Mr. Thirsty I gained some control and felt part of the process. I had many “extra” trips to the dentist but I am ever grateful for that man.

The doctor’s office was the first place I saw fear on my son’s face. It was not his first visit but his third. He knew what was coming and fear set upon him. Like a frightened cat, he coiled and pounced up on my arms. There was no consoling him and my heart was breaking. There clearly was no room for the explanation or debate about the necessity of the vaccinations or his physical. We just got through the best we could.

He’s since become much more accustomed to the doctor’s office. He now knows what to expect (usually) and actually asks to go there when he’s not feeling well, “Mommy, my tummy hurts, I have to go the doctor.” I should note that his school has reported that he’s become a regular at going to the nurse’s office (she’s a blonde;).

So while most of us have not reached the Gandhi moment of reasoning that “there would be no one to frighten you if you refused to be afraid,” we take baby steps. Bit by bit we work to conquer our fears. Sometimes you face it, others you grin and bear it and even others you scream your head off through it.

For our children we so desperately try to make even the most seemingly scary places – like the doctor’s office – a happy and safe place. From early on you are taught that the world is not a safe happy place but those safe spaces are to be found and sought after and few and far between.

For a paranoid lawyer/Jewish mother like moi it’s a hard notion to shake but what if it were reversed? The world is a perfectly happy safe place and the “danger” lies few and far between.

With that reasoning, there should always be a smile upon yours and your child’s faces.

Originally posted by Mommas Pearls.

Copyright © 2010 Cynthia Litman d/b/a Tigris Imprints. All Rights Reserved.

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