Not every child is alike. Please do not assume that because you treat children you know my child. You may know her name and know her medical history but you don’t know all there is about her that makes her wonderful and special and unique. You don’t know the effort it takes just to have her appear in your office and appear to be relaxed. If you knew her, you would know that she is not relaxed or calm...she is a child who is anxious and needs kindness, patience and understanding.
Please do not tell a child what he or she is feeling. If they tell you something hurts, please don’t tell them it is just pressure, not pain, for that is when I lose my mind just a little bit. That is when you need to be reminded that there is no benchmark for human emotions and feelings. One child’s pressure is another child’s pain. Stop and listen. Administer your doctoring accordingly. Ask yourself if you would treat an adult in the same way.
Your skills may be exemplary. I have full confidence in your ability to care for and treat my family. This is why I sometimes must endure your complete lack of the ability to nurture. Perhaps it is because you are a father, not a mother, and that role does not come naturally to you. Perhaps it is because you lack the patience to deal with a scared child. Perhaps you simply don’t like treating children.
Perhaps you need a reminder of what it is like to be helpless in a chair with an adult so close about to perform a procedure on your body that you wish they would not. Ask yourself, when was the last time you had a procedure done? Did you feel any anxiety? Does the sight of a large needle cause your heart to flutter just a little bit? How about the sight of large tools in your mouth? Is it just pressure you feel as your tooth is ripped from your gum? Perhaps it is.
Perhaps you are superhuman and can go through life without feeling. But imagine how amazing you would be if you could feel empathy for a child to whom pressure is pain, and needles are scary, and pliers cause her to shake involuntarily. If you had empathy for this child who has had more dental work done in her 12 years then you probably have had in your entire life, you may be more willing to understand. To give her a moment to catch her breath. To squeeze her hand and reassure her that yes, this is scary, yes there may be feelings that she does not like and yes, you will help manage her pain. This would transform you from a great doctor, into an exceptional one.