“Viraj? You’re back again?” I couldn’t help exclaiming as I saw Viraj and his mother at the Optical outlet for the third time in the last two months. “Yes Doctor, he’s lost his glasses yet again,” said his mother. “Last time, your friend stepped on it, right? What was it this time?”, I asked amazed at this kid’s creativity with getting rid of his glasses. Viraj turned his gaze away and smiled naughtily. Well, Viraj isn’t alone… a lot of children are averse to glasses. So how do you get your kld to wear glasses?
The First Time
A child’s first impression is often based off his parents’. If they notice how you’re upset or disappointed that their kid has to wear glasses, that’s the opinion they will form. Have a positive and encouraging attitude, it is sure to rub off on your child.
Preparing your kid beforehand also helps. You may do this through video stories or books about wearing glasses. When your child is old enough to understand, point out to a parent or aunt or characters (Harry Potter) who wear glasses. Pointing out celebrities might work for older kids and help them get an idea of the style that they want.
If just explaining how glasses will help them see better doesn’t work for younger kids, playing it up (a new super power, a magic tool, a new gadget from Doraemon) might work! Make sure your child’s first time trying on glasses is when they are rested and in a good mood.
Initially let your child wear their spectacles for short periods when they are doing something that they enjoy – watching their favourite TV show or reading their favourite book. This will help your kid to realise how their new glasses add value to their fun times.
The Right Glasses
Make shopping for glasses an enjoyable experience and a happy memory. Once you have narrowed down a few spectacles in your budget, let the choice of the colour and style be your kid’s choice. It’s okay if the glasses your kids pick are not exactly according to your taste. Your child is more likely to proudly wear what they have picked.
For older kids, it may be worthwhile to buy a few pairs that they can match to different outfits so that they look at their glasses as a fashion accessory. You may also take them shopping later to buy a new outfit to match their new glasses or get them a new haircut. This “makeover day” will ensure that a positive experience is created around their new accessory.
Let’s face it, we often do buy clothes and toys that our kids will “grow into”. Avoid doing it for the glasses. Buy frames that fit your child right now. Your kid is less likely to wear them if they are uncomfortable. The glasses should not pinch, slip or put pressure on your child’s face. Most spectacle frames for kids come with elastic bands that go around their head to keep the glasses in place. Plastic frames do not break even if your child chews them, drops them or even sits on them. Polycarbonate lenses are a safer and lighter option especially for kids who are involved in active sports.
Keeping it On
You can begin with baby steps – fifteen minutes of glasses initially followed by a gradual increase in eye wear time slowly may work with some kids.
How long it takes for your kid to take to their glasses really varies from child to child. Some kids may take a week while some other persistent ones may even take a month. If they throw too big a tantrum, take it off for a while, but do put it back once they are in a good mood. But consistently make sure that wearing glasses is non-negotiable – just like staying away from hot surfaces. Not wearing prescribed glasses may leave permanent damage especially in children under five years of age. It’s a delicate balance between avoiding the temptation to nag and being firm! (That’s true for parenting as a whole, isn’t it?)
Some parents find that keeping their toddlers’ hands busy makes them forget about this ‘other toy’ on their nose. Toddlers are more likely to throw off their glasses when they are bored with nothing else to do. When your baby throws them off, stay calm and just put them back on with a smile. We know it is a big deal, but try to pretend as if it’s not one. Make it a part of their routine – it’s just something they have to put on along with their clothes every morning and take off at bed time.
Finding out why your kid doesn’t want to wear glasses is crucial too. Though kids now-a-days are much more open about glasses (as compared to our times), if teasing is an issue at school, teaching the kid to ignore the teasing may help.
If your child is inconsistent with wearing glasses, it is a good idea to check if the glasses are well centred or not and whether the glasses have been made according to the prescription. Incorrectly placed lenses can also lead to a child not accepting their glasses. Regular follow up with your child eye doctor is important to ensure your child’s glasses continue to have the right power and fit.
Positive reinforcement works like magic. Fuss over them and tell them how cute/pretty they look with their glasses. Take photos and praise them when they leave their glasses on for longer periods. That is sure to seal the deal!
Dr. Prachi Agashe is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist in Mumbai who specialises in dealing with vision problems in kids. If you feel your child may need glasses or wish to have a word about how to get your kid to wear glasses, do feel free to reach out to Dr Prachi at Agashe Hospital. To book an appointment with child eye doctor, Dr. Prachi Agashe for your child’s vision problems, call 9867539883 today.