Family and Sibling Policies
For your practice to successfully meet the challenges of treating pediatric patients while cooperating with the patients' parents, you need to have strict guidelines in place. These policies concerning a family's role in the practice will help to regulate interactions between everyone.
When Parents Should Accompany Their Child in the Clinical Area
Parents are usually anxious to accompany their child during treatment. Allowing them to do so can help them to feel that they aren't relinquishing all control. Parents need to feel that they have a voice in treatment decisions and have the ability to comfort their child as needed.
In some cases, children should be accompanied by a parent into the clinical area. But a parent's presence might encourage a child to vocalize their frustration and impatience more so than if they were on their own.
This can slow down treatment and teach a child that dental care is an unnecessary inconvenience. Parents can be helped to understand how the visit will go smoother and faster if they can step out of the room for the majority of appointment time.
Consider establishing a policy in which children should try being seen without their parent by their second or third dental visit. Some cases might require a parent's presence.
- Children under the age of three
- Special needs children
- The family’s first trip to your office
Siblings Together in the Office
It's usually very convenient for busy families to bring all of their children in at one time for regular cleanings and dental care. Keeping an eye on all of the children can be a challenge for the parents, particularly if only one parent accompanies the children.
Avoid having siblings present in the treatment area while one of the children is in the dental chair. At the initial check-in and health history review, this may not be a problem. The other children can be disruptive during actual treatment, however. They may become unduly nervous over seeing the dental instruments used. The patient could become agitated or too excitable to sit still.
For the safety of all in the family, it might be best for your office to establish a policy that requires siblings to sit in the waiting area while their brother or sister is having dental treatment.
Family Scheduling Policies
Your practice likely depends upon the loyal support and cooperation of entire families. You want to work with the family to meet their needs and make dental care as accessible as possible to their children. But families who fail to keep their appointments can prove to be a liability to your practice.
Scheduling siblings together for the same appointment time is convenient but risky. Make sure your patients understand just how valuable that time is for everyone involved. Perhaps a fitting policy would be to no longer allow families to schedule appointments at the same time if they have missed two or three in a row.
By establishing office policies for families in your pediatric practice and clearly explaining them to your patients' parents, you can avoid a lot of uncomfortable situations and frustrations.