Frequently asked question: how will I ever get my child to wear glasses?
The Little Four Eyes facebook group gets quite a few parents who have just learned that their child will need glasses. Many come to the group with the same question: “How on earth am I ever going to convince my wonderful, but strong-willed child to keep glasses on her face?” For many of us, the only experience we’ve had with getting our child to keep something on their face is with sunglasses or maybe trying on frames at the optical shop. If we’re asking the question, chances are those experiences didn’t end well.
So for those who are asking that question right now, I have a couple of thoughts which may or may not be comforting. First, sunglasses and display frames at an optical shop don’t actually help a child see. Kids are more likely to leave on glasses with prescription lenses because those glasses will help them to see better. That’s the good news. The less good news is that it can take a while for a child to get to that point.
I ran a poll last year asking parents how long it took their child to get used to their glasses. Nearly half of the parents said their child took to their glasses right away. So you very well may be one of the lucky ones. Almost a third (29.5%) said their child took to their glasses in 2 weeks or less. And then the last 23.5% said it took more than 2 weeks. What that says to me is that you’re not alone going through this, and the amount of time it takes your child to wear their glasses well will depend a lot of the child and probably a whole lot of other factors. Chances are that your child will wear their glasses well pretty quickly, but if they don’t you still have a lot of good company. (For what it’s worth, it took Zoe 2 weeks to wear her glasses well).
General themes for keeping the glasses on
Every child is different, so not all of these will work for everyone, but in reading the stories of so many parents, there are some common themes:
- Stay consistent
Make the glasses part of your routine from the beginning. Put them on your child first thing in the morning. Every time your child takes them off, put them back on. If you have to take them off for something (to wash their face or nap time), tell them that you’re just taking the glasses off for a little bit. And then put the glasses right back on when it’s time.This means that you may find yourself putting your child’s glasses back on hundreds of times a day (or at least it may feel that way). Just keep at it and know that it will get better.
- Stay neutral/positive
Your child will pick up on your cues about this. So if you’re really upset about their glasses, that’s not going to help them want to wear their glasses. Instead, even if you’re frustrated that it’s the 101st time you put the glasses on, have a smile on your face when you put them on. But you don’t need to make a big deal out of the glasses, certainly not day to day. Just set them back on your child’s face with a smile every time they come off.If your child throws a fit or gets really upset. Set the glasses aside for a few minutes until they calm down. Then put the glasses back on calmly with a smile.
(And yes, I know how frustrating it gets. But putting the glasses on your child’s face and trying to hold the glasses there with one hand, while fending off your childs hand with the other doesn’t work. I tried.)
- Find ways to distract your child
You know your child and what your child loves. Use that to your advantage and as soon as the glasses go on their face, find that special something to distract your child. Book, TV, game, toy, walk outside, zoo, whatever it is, use it! You want your child to get used to looking at the world through their glasses – it will help them realize how much better they see with their glasses, which will encourage them to keep them on.
Some specific tricks
These are tricks that I’ve heard and collected over the years. Again, because all kids are different, some may not be appropriate for your child at all.
- Put your child’s glasses on while they are sleeping. For some kids, they won’t notice when they wake up, and will wear their glasses better after that.
- Get a stuffed animal or doll with glasses. Have your child put the glasses on the animal.
- Read books about getting or wearing glasses.
- Throw a new glasses party. That can include having #1 and 2 or even cake or other festivities. Yes, this goes against the advice to not make a big deal about it, but that advice is more for the day to day stuff, for the first day, if your child is the type to celebrate those milestones, then go for it.
- Explain why your child needs the glasses. This obviously works better for older children.
- Show your child the photo gallery so he or she doesn’t feel so alone with their glasses.
- Sticker charts! Your child gets a sticker for each day he or she wears their glasses well, with some reward after a week.
- Let your child choose which glasses to put on. If you have a back-up pair, consider letting your child choose which they want to wear. That gives them a choice in the matter, they still have to wear glasses, but they can choose which to wear. You could also use something like Ficklets to decorate the glasses if they want variety a different way.
- Take the glasses off in the car. If your child gets bored in the car, they are likely to take off their glasses and play with them in their carseat. For the first few months, you may want to just take them off ahead of time.
- If your child had a terrible day of not wearing glasses at all, know that it does usually get better. Just take a break and start again first thing the next morning.
- If your child is absolutely refusing to wear their glasses after a couple of weeks, make sure that the frames are adjusted well and get the prescription checked. If your child is farsighted or wears bifocals, you can ask your child’s eye doctor for atropine drops. The drops will relax your child’s focusing muscles and keep them from being able to see clearly without glasses. (Farsighted children can focus through their farsightedness, which can make it harder for them to accept glasses because they don’t always see the benefit to their glasses, and they have to learn to relax their focusing muscle and let the glasses focus for them.)
Again, know that it does get better.
Do you have other specific tips or tricks?