When do you step in and advocate for your child?
I took my 5 year old to the dentist and what is normally a very pleasant visit with minimal tears, today resulted in puddles of the salty stuff from both my child and me. I was angry at the hygienist for how she treated my child and angry at myself for not stepping in.
I am normally pretty quick to keep my kids from experiences like this but when we’ve been going to the same dentist for a few years now and every time we’ve been met with smiles and a gentle nature, why would this time be any different? So maybe my guard was down and I was in shock. Let’s just say that’s what it was so I feel a little bit better. The hygienist was telling my child things like “my house my rules” and that if she couldn’t comply, I would have to go sit in the waiting room. How does instilling fear in a child – a customer – help you do your job? Maybe that’s how this woman raised her kids. If so, I feel bad for those kids.
When it was time for the x-rays, which granted we’ve had trouble with in the past, the woman caused my child to break down in tears. She literally had tears streaming down her face because this woman told my child that she was not behaving and it was her fault she couldn’t get the x-ray picture. And I, of course, was not allowed to stand next to her during the x-rays, but I also was not even allowed to stand in my child’s line of sight! The hygienist said something to the effect of me “being in her way” though she didn’t come near me at all during this procedure.
At this point, I wanted to grab my child and tell the woman we were done. That I was taking my child out of this situation. But I also thought I might be overreacting and my child does tend to cry a lot, after all. She needs to learn to deal with these situations, right? But I am also her parent. I am one of the people that is supposed to protect her from experiences like this.
Now I am afraid she will never want to go to the dentist again.
My child has always had issues with anxiety and this, I fear, will just make it worse. How do I protect my child but also allow her (and push her) to experience life? How do I make it easy for her to trust me to make the right decisions for her? I want her to have a full and amazing life, unsheltered and free from her debilitating thoughts that keep her inside on the days she thinks the landscapers *might* be cutting the grass or that I am going to leave the house without her. I want her to be comfortable with herself and confident in her ability to do things. I have found anxiety in children is vastly different that that of adults.
It’s been a long road dealing with my child’s anxiety and I fear the experience today just set us way back. I thought I was doing the right thing but I should have listened to the mommy voice in my head and pulled her out. I think, in the future, as long as the situation is a good and safe one, I will gently push her. For now, for today, I think I will just make her some chocolate cake in a mug, put some whipped cream and sprinkles on it, and snuggle up with her and a few books.
On a side note, we spoke with the dentist who owns the practice and explained our frustration and concern. It felt good to let them know what happened.