Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Negotiations: Part II

Last week there was a big milestone for me. Thursday was the day I finally faced my fears and took Ben for his first dentist appointment. I've been putting it off because I was anticipating a fuss like the kind I've been faced with at gymnastics. And guess what? There was no fuss!

Well, almost no fuss, anyway.

We happen to go to an excellent dentist who knows the value of a good solid bribe. At their first teeth cleaning, kids not only get to pick out a cool toothbrush and Sponge-Bob toothpaste, but they also get 3 prizes: one from the vending machine, one from a treasure chest, and a Beanie Baby. Granted, they don't have the full 1,000 or so critters to choose from, but still.

Also helping the situation is the fact that Leah loves going to the dentist and gets really excited about it. I mentioned about a month ago that Ben would be going soon, and she didn't need any prompting to encourage him. She may have even called him "lucky"! Ben was again prepped for the upcoming appointment about a week before, and then a day or so before, but I didn't dwell on it - just said, "Ben, you get to go to the dentist!" No arguments allowed.

I billed it as a kind of a date with Mom, since Ben has a bit of an Oedipus complex happening right now - only Mommy can change his diaper, get him dressed, put his coat on, tuck him into bed, etc. (Some of these things just need to be taken over by Ben himself. Working on it.)

Ben first watched me get my teeth cleaned. Side note here: I finally got my wisdom teeth removed last summer, and my dental appointments have been sooo much easier since then. If you are putting it off, just go and get those buggers taken care of, already! The hygienist chatted with Mr. Ben the entire time, about dinosaurs and his favorite animals. It was fun to listen to his chatter, when a year and half ago he was getting by with grunts and whines.

When I was done, we convinced Ben to sit in the chair with me and let the hygienist count his teeth, and after a bit more convincing, the dentist was able to do the same thing and brief exam. But the cleaning was completely rejected. Miss Hygienist told Ben he could pick out the toothbrush and paste, but I suggested that the 3 prizes would have to wait until he actually had a cleaning.

I reminded him that he could have cookie-dough toothpaste (!!!), and then that fabulous hygienist showed him the polisher - while he was standing on the ground, not cornered on the chair. Then she touched it to his fingernail, and then just the front tooth...and then Ben said, "O-kay..." and the rest of the appointment proceeded without objection! He even had a fluoride treatment - banana-split flavored (!!!).

I was so proud of my little man. Really, I mostly anticipated a tantrum and very little attention to the actual teeth. This was a case of some well-placed bribes/rewards, and also maybe some modeling of how "easy" it is.

Now, if only these tactics were working for potty-training.

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