Child or paediatric patients range from 2 to 12 years of age. The youngest children, aged between 2 and 3, are commonly known as toddlers. This is a time when psychologists believe that infancy ends, symbolising the beginning of the next stage of development for the child as an individual. At the other end of the scale children enter what is known as their preadolescent years between the ages of 10 to 12. This transition depends on factors such as the child’s upbringing, the environment in which the child has been raised and their own personal predispositions.
Children should be classed as medical or dental patients in their own right, even if a parent or guardian accompanies them during their appointment. Throughout childhood children will naturally progress from being completely dependent on others to a more matured state of autonomy, independence and self-reliance, able to communicate and form relationships with others, regardless of the influences around them. As a child develops they become occupied with coping better with new situations and fulfilling their own role in society more effectively.
Toddlers are usually quite lively and invariably require constant adult care and attention. Whilst in the surgery it is inevitable that supervision will be required. They can be extremely curious, and although not fully able to express themselves, they can usually do a pretty good job of scrutinising the people, the situation and the environment in which they find themselves in, in order to draw their own opinions and conclusions. This might result in a child saying things like, ‛Oh please, I want to go there again’ or ‛I don’t like it, never again!’. Children at this age are also able to mirror the concerns and anxieties of the adults around them. Whereas parents are able to hide their negative emotions of anger, fear or nervousness, a toddler in the surgery will certainly have no inhibitions about showing off their range of emotions.