Knowing how to talk to your child about getting braces is tough. No matter how important braces may be for their oral health, children don’t tend to like them.
Braces for children are fairly common, with kids sometimes getting them even before losing all their baby teeth. Despite this, they cause a great deal of anxiety in kids being told they’re going to need them.
Read on to learn some tips to help ease your child’s anxiety and help them transition to life with braces!
Braces for Children Aren’t Always Fun
The first thing you need to accept is that braces aren’t fun. They’re inconvenient, and some kids may even try to use it as a point of bullying. You need to empathize with how braces may make your child feel.
While braces can certainly impact adults, remember that an adult has life experience a child lacks. Braces generally are in place for 1 to 3 years.
For an adult, that’s relatively long. However, for a child, that may seem like an eternity.
Your child may be wearing braces for the rest of their time in their current school. That’s an intimidating prospect, as kids often invest a lot in their school identity (whether it’s healthy or not).
The two primary issues you’re going to be tackling are how braces affect a child’s self-esteem and how it will inconvenience their daily life. We’ll actually begin with that second point, as it is a bit less complicated and child-specific to deal with.
Make Braces Feel as Easy and Unintrusive as Possible
Living with braces is something of a process. You have to be careful when cleaning and maintaining them. Certain life choices, such as what one will eat, become important.
As a parent, you should talk with your child about how you’ll help make that process easier. Simple changes, like avoiding the same foods your child has to, will go a long way to helping them feel supported.
You also should discuss with their dentist what it means to live with braces. Your child will have to keep track of many details that used to not matter much. If you’re able to help bear that information burden, it can both help prevent mistakes and reduce the workload your child feels as they learn to live with braces.
This is a discussion to have even before the braces are installed. It’s the sort of stuff the child may be worried about and you want to ease that worry. Make it clear you’re going to be very supportive and will make sure the house still has foods and drinks that are both enjoyable and appropriate for people with braces.
Encourage Self-Confidence and Self-Worth
As much as 60% of adolescents report feeling unattractive. If your child struggles with self-worth, the suggestion they need braces can add even more fuel to that fire.
Your immediate thought may be to note braces aren’t permanent and will actually improve the child’s smile. While technically correct, this may not be the best approach, at least on its own. The child will still have to wear braces for a long time, and you’ve now also implied they have a subpar smile!
Encouraging healthy self-confidence is a balancing act with children, as some of their habits (like worshipping the advice of toxic media personalities) may be unhealthy. That said, some allowances and changes can go a long way to helping them.
Even if their chosen style of clothing isn’t what you’d choose, purchasing your child clothes their peers find “cool” or “pretty” may help them feel accepted. Don’t push this narrative too hard, as that has its own problems, but allow your child the freedom to have input when you go clothes shopping. You can skip expensive or “risqué” options, but try to remember that your sense of style just isn’t the same as your child and their peers’.
Furthermore, remember that dumping praise on your child may make it seem disingenuous (especially if it only starts in the time leading up to their braces). Instead, just be mindful that praise can have a positive impact, and don’t be afraid to use it when it feels right.
Even putting braces aside, you also should encourage a child to not get all their self-worth from appearances. Praise intellectual, artistic, and other accomplishments too. Letting your child know you’re genuinely proud of them for what they’ve done can help them feel important so that impacts to their self-worth feel less serious.
Be Honest and Be Kind
When having a conversation with your child about getting braces, be honest. You’re preparing a child for braces, not tricking them into getting them.
Try to tell them what it will really be like so they’re prepared. If you aren’t fully up to the task, contact the practice that will be doing the procedure. The professionals there should be more than willing to explain in a clear and empathetic way about what both the installation process and living with them will be like.
You also need to remember that supporting your child can’t just end with the installation either. For weeks, months, or even the entire time they’re on, the braces are going to be on your child’s mind. For better or worse, people will notice them and the fact they have braces may be brought up more than you realize.
Your child is going to worry the process will hurt. They’re going to worry people will notice the braces and judge them. Your support will go a long way to combatting these worries and also facing them if any kind of problem does occur.
We Offer Braces and More
Our practice is able to not only install braces for children but also much more. We can help children and adults alike achieve their perfect smile. It’s worth noting we may even be able to adjust a child’s teeth with braces alternatives, such as with Invisalign or ClearCorrect, but this will not always be the case.
We also offer virtual consultation now to help combat the threat of the pandemic while still allowing people to get the care they need. That way, you only need to come in when it’s necessary.