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Empowering Your Child for Healthcare - Being Your Child's Advocate

Your child’s first, second, third and every visit to the doctor or dentist can be empowering and even fun! Parents often worry about their child’s experience at their healthcare provider: will my child cry, will he/she generate bad memories, how will it go? The good news is that with some pre-planning, you can help make the appointment successful for you and your child.

DISCLOSURE: This information is not meant to be all-encompassing and should not replace seeking advice from your health care provider for specific questions, solutions, and concerns about your health! The purpose is to spark curiosity and gain some insight into your health.

Here are tips from Dr. Lindsay A Thorn from LAT Dentistry to help empower your child for their appointment and how to help advocate for

their healthcare!

1. Preparation! Role play, read books, use toys and props to help your child know what to expect. Make it fun!

2. What motivates your child? Do you use a reward system- so good behavior comes with some sort of incentive? Or are you focused on intrinsically motivating our child – maybe by making them feel empowered and suggesting that they get to have a homework assignment such as flossing each night!

3. Acknowledge feelings! If your child cries, let them know it’s ok to feel scared and lots of people feel nervous trying something new. If the child can’t regain composure to finish the appointment, find something they CAN do before they leave to end on a good note… maybe they can pick which bib they prefer for their next appointment, or maybe they can help put something away before they leave. Try to find something they can do, and then remind them of how they did such a great job of overcoming their emotions and lending a helping hand!

4. If you decide the appointment needs to end, then end it. It’s ok to pull the plug and try again another time!

5. Re-frame difficult appointments- when you get home, remind your child of all of the positive things he/she did: they walked in the front door and sat in the chair even though they felt nervous, they were very polite and thoughtful, etc.

6. Be careful not to project your own feelings and biases of the dentist or doctor onto your child!

7. Studies show children behave significantly better in new situations when mom isn’t present….so consider “waiting in the waiting room while your child goes back” and then peeking into the treatment room from around the corner – you are there the whole time to jump in if needed, but your child has agency to perform in the appointment on their own!

8. Ask questions to best understand what will be done of your doctor or dentist ahead of time, preferably out of earshot of your child.

9. If you have concerns or questions, ask to reschedule the appointment so you have time to think of questions and understand the planned treatment.

10. Give yourself grace- parenting is a journey!

Huddle Up Moms spent time with Dr. Thorn to learn about how to best prepare your child for the dentist visit. Watch the video below to learn more!


Please follow us on social media and continue learning about ways to advocate for yourself! It's time to use your voice for a healthier mind, body, and YOU!

If you have topics or specific questions, please email and we will do our best to incorporate your questions into our blogs/content.


Written by Lindsay A Thorn, DMD, MS.

Dr. Lindsay A Thorn is Family and Cosmetic Dentist in Roanoke, VA. She is an officer in the Roanoke Valley Dental Society and active member of the ADA, VDA, AGD, and the Crown Council. She is passionate about helping people achieve physical and emotional wellness through oral health and cosmetic rehabilitation. She is an avid animal lover with 1 cat, 1 turtle, 2 dogs, 5 fish, and 1 horse!

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Thorn!

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