Sensory Play - Important for Child Development
By: Dr. Peter Markov, Owner and Kids Dentist at VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, VA
From birth to early childhood and beyond, kids are constantly using their senses to explore the world around them. Taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing - often a child's favorite memories are associated with one or more of these senses. Whether it’s a catchy song they hear in the car or the smell of popcorn before their favorite movie, kids and even adults learn more and retain the most information when they involve all of their senses.
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is any activity that can stimulate your young child’s taste, touch, smell, movement, balance, sight and hearing. It helps kids play, create, investigate and explore. It helps reduce anxiety and can calm an anxious or frustrated child. It creates associations and can literally shape what children believe to be safe, positive or rewarding.
Why is my Pediatric Dentist talking about it?
Coming to the pediatric dentist is a new experience for most kids - there are unfamiliar sights, smells, sounds and the associations formed as a child can have a lifelong and lasting impact on their oral health. Having a positive association with the pediatric dentist and pediatric dental office can motivate a child to care more about their teeth, behave better both at the dentist and at home, and help shape their future lives. At VK Pediatric Dentistry, we understand the importance of sensory play.
What does VK Pediatric Dentistry do differently?
Two of our favorite ways to utilize sensory play at VK Pediatric Dentistry include the sensory toy wall in our waiting room and a tell, show, do approach during your child's appointment.
1 – Sensory toy wall. Sometimes kids can be nervous, afraid, or confused when they arrive at a new place. Having a fun, safe area where kids can explore on their own helps reduce their anxiety and allows for a more positive experience. Our sensory toy wall captures the attention of children and rewards them for their behaviors. It allows kids to play, explore, experiment and feel comfortable in their new environment.
2 – Tell, show, do. One of the fundamental principles of a successful visit at VK Pediatric Dentistry is the tell, show, do approach. Tell – Explain the procedure at an appropriate developmental level for the child. We’ve developed our own way of explaining each step in kid friendly terms (from tooth shampoo to a mouth car wash) so there are no surprises. Your child doesn’t need to be afraid or anxious for what’s coming next. Show – show the materials and instruments we use. Sometimes something as simple as a brush can create fear if a child doesn’t know what it is. Do – Complete treatment.
This contemporary behavior guidance technique alleviates anxiety, allows for active participation through desensitization, and allows children to associate and use their senses for a positive experience.
VK Pediatric Dentistry
5001 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA 22207