This accepted manuscript has been modified slightly from the format in which it was originally submitted (i.e. tables and figures have been inserted into the main text). The monitoring-blunting theory of coping suggests that when faced with a threatening situation, individuals can respond by either monitoring or avoiding (blunting) threatening information. The current study sought to validate a scale of children's preferences for monitoring or blunting in dental situations (the Monitoring Blunting Dental Scale or MBDS). The psychometric characteristics of the scale were assessed in a sample of 240 New Zealand children aged 11–13. Reliability was adequate for both monitoring (= .74) and blunting (= .76) subscale scores. Convergent validity was indicated by strong correlations (> .6) between the measure's subscales and those of a related scale, although discriminant validity with respect to dental anxiety was problematic for the blunting subscale. Exploratory factor analysis supported a two-factor monitoring-blunting model, although confirmatory factor analysis indicated reasonable but imperfect fit for this model, SBχ 2 (251) = 510.7, p < .001, RMSEA = .066. We reflect on conceptual issues which may underlie the difficulties experienced here and elsewhere in developing psychometrically sound measures of Miller's blunting construct, and suggest that the monitoring subscale of the study scale may be most useful to other researchers.