“It’s very bad,” says Sanne. “As soon as I say that we are going to the doctor or the dentist, the circus starts. Screaming, falling on the floor, crying, running away. My three-year-old in particular cannot sit still. Let the doctor check for a bump or his Opening his mouth at the dentist is a horror. Even at the hairdresser, distracting him with a video doesn’t help, he pulls his head away or starts roaring.”
Sanne tries to find ways to reassure her child. She just doesn’t know how anymore. General practitioner Marnix van der Leest experiences this often in his practice and has some tips. Good preparation is one of them. “I don’t give the choice whether something will happen, but how it will happen. I do this by asking things like: ‘Do you want to sit on daddy’s lap or do you want to lie on the bed?’ Or: ‘Would you like to watch with me or would you like to do something while I’m busy?'”
According to Van der Leest, it is important to take your time when something unpleasant has to be done and to radiate calmness. Language use also helps. “Then I say something like: ‘You can lie still very well. Or: ‘I’m going to do this now, can you tell me what you feel? I never ask about the pain and I never say ‘you only feel this for a moment’, because a child thinks: I don’t feel this for a moment, this is very intense.”
Holding doesn’t help
In general practice, this approach is called ‘child-centered care’. It is mainly about how to communicate with a child if you have to do something that the child does not like. Van der Leest must regularly give an injection or remove something from a child. Of course it makes a difference in the conversation whether a child is one year old or five. According to him, toddlers in particular may sometimes not be in the mood for it.
“What you don’t want is for a visit to the doctor or dentist to become a traumatic experience. The procedure only takes longer if a child is writhing in a headlock.” What also doesn’t help is to pretend that nothing is happening. “Something does happen. It does something to a child’s confidence if, for example, you give an injection out of nowhere. In addition, it appears that a negative experience by a child has consequences for later. An adult can be out of control due to an unpleasant event. youth will avoid care.”
Don’t just remember pain
To prevent this, it may be helpful to evaluate a visit to the doctor or dentist. “I do this by asking after the treatment how the child experienced it. For example, if a child says that it hurt a lot, I say something like: ‘That’s not nice, but you did sit still very well. A child remembers Then you not only remember the pain, but also that he has done very well. This is how you empower the child.”
Rubriek: Asking for a friend
In this weekly column Asking for a friend we submit reader questions about health to one of our experts. Do you also have a pressing health question for a GP, midwife, dietitian, psychologist or other health expert? Then email it to [email protected] and who knows, you might see the answer appear here soon.
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