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Tips from Preschool Teachers

Mar 27, 2019

This month’s blog post comes from the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, highlighting tips from preschool teachers with a combined experience of over 90 years! While the tips are broad and mostly about behavior, we found the advice to also be helpful in the dental setting! Here’s a condensed version of what the teachers had to say:

Set Expectations: Most people have a way of living up (or down) to expectations – preschoolers included. “At school we expect the kids to pour their own water at snack, to throw away their plates, to hang up their jackets – and they do,” says Jennifer Zebooker, a teacher at the 92nd street Y Nursery School, in New York City. “But then they’ll walk out of the classroom and the thumb goes in the mouth and they climb into strollers.” Raise the bar and your child will probably stretch to meet it.

  • How this applies to the dental setting: when children are little, they often sit on their parent’s lap for their dental appointment. However, as they get bigger, we strive to have them sit by themselves in the chair. We often find that children will just climb into the dental chair by themselves if you ask for them to do it… however, if you give them the choice of sitting on Mom or Dad’s lap, most kids are always going to choose their parent’s lap. Setting the expectation of sitting by yourself helps encourage independence and a successful dental visit!

Establish Predictable Routines: Kids cooperate in school because they know what’s expected of them, says Beth Cohen-Dorfman, educational coordinator at Chicago’s Concordia Avondale Campus preschool. “The children follow essentially the same routine day after day, so they quickly learn what they are supposed to be doing, and after awhile barely need reminding.” While it would be impractical to have the same level of structure at home, the more consistent you are, the more cooperative your child is likely to be, suggests Cohen-Dorfman. Decide on a few routines and stick to them: Everyone gets dressed before breakfast. When we come in from outside, we wash our hands. No bedtime stories until all kids are in jammies. Eventually, following these “house rules” will become second nature to your child.

  • How this applies to the dental setting: Consistent brushing at home should also be included in the “house rules”! Not only will consistent brushing help decrease your child’s odds of cavities, but your child will likely also do better at the dental office… after all, they are used to having someone else’s hands in their mouths!

To view the complete article (which was originally from Parents Magazine), visit here.

© 2014 Dr. Jennifer Fountain, DDS.
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