Hey, I never claimed that my kids were normal. My oldest (age 9) visited the doctor earlier this week and when I reminded her that I would pick her up early for her appointment, she got very excited. I mentioned something about how she only has to go twice a year, and her response was, “Awww, that’s it? Why don’t we get to go more often?”
I know, right? No, she’s not a sadist (at least, not as far as I can tell) and no, her dentist doesn’t give out candy. So why the burning desire to happily endure that which most people consider to be an inevitable torture?
(I might also mention, her younger sister (age 6) also chimed in and was eager to visit Dr. Benzley.)
So what gives? What’s with these kids?
For starters, there are a lot of things her dentist has done right. Here’s a short list:
– Kid-friendly office (fun toys in the waiting room, a flat screen TV with endless Pixar movie choices, paw prints and dinosaurs on the lead aprons for x-ray time, employees who actually LIKE kids. I know, shocking.)
– Comfort (comfortable waiting room chairs, dental chairs — recliner would be a better way to describe it — kids can lie flat, different size toothbrushes for different sized mouths, sunglasses so the bright light isn’t in their eyes, a dentist + hygienists who take their time and take care to be gentle.)
– Plenty of positive distractions (flat screens on the ceiling over each dental chair, choice of personal DVD, noise-cancelling headphones, there’s even a toothy alligator stuffee and oversized toothbrush to practice on while they’re waiting their turn)
– LOTS of options — far more then they get at my house, I might add — they pick which character toothbrush they want, which flavor of polish, which color of teeth paint (to check and see how well they are brushing), which color sunglasses, etc.
– Movie star treatment – In addition to all the choices they get to make, they are pampered and treated like rock stars. They are treated not like inferiors, but like stars. Again, not something that I would do at home, but hey, twice a year, why shouldn’t they get the white glove treatment? Especially if it makes a normally unpleasant experience feel wonderful.
– A reward for cooperation. My dentist has “the prize tower” (this isn’t an EXACT picture, but it gives you the idea) filled with tiny trinkets. At the end of their visit, each child gets a prize token (2 if they’re extra good — my kids each got 2 this last visit and couldn’t have been more delighted) and they can select the prize they want and use their tokens to retrieve it from the vending machine.
What’s the lesson here? To me, it’s pretty clear that this dentist has taken the time to get to know what his patients want and what they fear, and he’s gone to great lengths to accommodate them. The result? Lots of happy patients like me. Patients who tell other patients. (Take a look at his site and all the 5-star ratings there. Which I would probably think was B.S. if I hadn’t been taking my own kids there for the past 3 years, since they first opened.)
He’s simply following the golden rule. And it’s paying off big-time.
Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a.