000-017   000-080   000-089   000-104   000-105   000-106   070-461   100-101   100-105  , 100-105  , 101   101-400   102-400   1V0-601   1Y0-201   1Z0-051   1Z0-060   1Z0-061   1Z0-144   1z0-434   1Z0-803   1Z0-804   1z0-808   200-101   200-120   200-125  , 200-125  , 200-310   200-355   210-060   210-065   210-260   220-801   220-802   220-901   220-902   2V0-620   2V0-621   2V0-621D   300-070   300-075   300-101   300-115   300-135   3002   300-206   300-208   300-209   300-320   350-001   350-018   350-029   350-030   350-050   350-060   350-080   352-001   400-051   400-101   400-201   500-260   640-692   640-911   640-916   642-732   642-999   700-501   70-177   70-178   70-243   70-246   70-270   70-346   70-347   70-410   70-411   70-412   70-413   70-417   70-461   70-462   70-463   70-480   70-483   70-486   70-487   70-488   70-532   70-533   70-534   70-980   74-678   810-403   9A0-385   9L0-012   9L0-066   ADM-201   AWS-SYSOPS   C_TFIN52_66   c2010-652   c2010-657   CAP   CAS-002   CCA-500   CISM   CISSP   CRISC   EX200   EX300   HP0-S42   ICBB   ICGB   ITILFND   JK0-022   JN0-102   JN0-360   LX0-103   LX0-104   M70-101   MB2-704   MB2-707   MB5-705   MB6-703   N10-006   NS0-157   NSE4   OG0-091   OG0-093   PEGACPBA71V1   PMP   PR000041   SSCP   SY0-401   VCP550   000-080   1Z0-051   300-208   350-029   102-400   1z0-434   220-801   70-347   1Z0-804   210-260   640-911   300-135   NSE4   EX200   070-461   70-534   700-501   9L0-012   MB6-703   400-101   70-480   M70-101   SY0-401   PMP   1Z0-061   9A0-385   642-732   000-017   9L0-066   JN0-102   1Z0-061   70-411   1V0-601   300-206   400-051   MB2-707   640-692   101   70-346   CISSP   HP0-S42   PR000041   PMP   300-075   200-125  , 300-135   CCA-500   2V0-620   CISM   OG0-093  

Child’s Fear of Doctor or Dentist – Greater Pensacola Parents

Child’s Fear of Doctor or Dentist

Reader Question: Over the past year or so, our 5-year-old has developed an extreme fear of going to the doctor or dentist. This came on suddenly, without a precipitating incident. The crying begins when we arrive at the appointment. When the doctor or nurse tries to examine him, he goes bonkers—screaming, hitting, kicking. He has to be held down for something as simple as looking in his ears. Otherwise, he’s a normal little boy—occasionally disobedient, but nothing at all serious. This last time I decided to punish him by not giving him what I’d promised if he was good and sending him to his room when we got back home. Is this something I should treat as any other behavior problem? I’m really confused.
 
Whether the behavior in question reflects a true fear or not is open to question. With children (and even adults at times), one cannot accurately judge the book of behavior by the cover. Sometimes, what looks like a fear can be a form of rebellion. One thing is certain: Your son is trying to exercise control over healthcare appointments. Given that (a) there was no obvious precipitating incident, (b) he is not generally fearful or disobedient, and (c) his “fearful” behavior is not part of a larger pattern, I’d approach this as a behavior problem.

Before describing a tactic that has proven to be successful in other situations of this sort, involving children around your son’s age, two things:

First, offering a bribe for good behavior isn’t going to work (as you’ve already discovered) and is likely, in the long run, to be counterproductive. You don’t want your son to begin demanding “goodies” in return for obedience. Demands of that sort escalate over time. What begins as “I want ice cream” is likely to turn into “I want a trip to Disney World” in short order.

Second, your confusion is preventing you from acting authoritatively. You’re trying to persuade and nudge him into being a good patient. Getting over this hump is going to require force. I’m not referring to anything physical, mind you. Rather, I’m talking about using a form of what I call the Godfather Principle: making your son an offer he can’t refuse. (For the benefit of some younger readers, I’m referring to a famous line from the film The Godfather.) The Godfather offer in question: Tell your son that until he fully cooperates with a doctor or dentist appointment, he will enjoy absolutely no privilege, be confined to his room after supper, and go to bed one hour early. Privilege includes any and all after-school activities, birthday parties, sleep-overs, play dates, toys, television, and any purchases above what is absolutely necessary.

To restore his privileges, he must tell you he is ready to be a cooperative patient. At that point, you make an appointment with the doctor. If he displays any form of resistance on the way to or at the appointment, take him home immediately, reinstate his Spartan standard of living and just wait. This may take a week or it may take a month, so be prepared to hang in there with an attitude of nonchalance. Make this your son’s problem and he will solve it.

John Rosemond

Family psychologist John Rosemond is America’s most widely-read parenting expert. Learn more about John at www.rosemond.com

Leave a Reply