Top tips for getting kids to love their new glasses
Most patients take a while to adjust to a new set of specs but if your patient is a child, it can take considerably longer, especially if it’s their first time wearing them. To help smooth the way, here’s a few handy tips I’ve picked up from people in the know, and from being a mum! Before you know it, your younger patients will be loving their new look, and their parents will be loving you!
Talk to them…
Most children will listen and give your words far more weight than Mum or Dad, simply because you are the expert. This puts you in a unique place to play both optometrist and psychologist!
If the child is old enough to understand, explain in simple terms why they need glasses, highlighting the positives but also touching upon the consequences of not wearing them. If they are on the younger side, consider using visuals, such as books, to help you. If you are particularly tech-savvy, you could create a short, animated explainer or YouTube video they can watch on an iPad or computer screen in your office. If you can’t do one yourself, there are plenty of options online.
Whatever form your advice takes, Mum and Dad will appreciate it and use it as much needed back-up when reinforcing the value of wearing glasses to their child, ie. “The eye doctor said …”.
Also consider touching upon the ‘teasing’ issue, telling the child their new look may prompt some comments from their friends, but assure them it’s only because they look different to how they used to and their friends will quickly get used to it, as they will.
Highlight the positives
Many studies have shown glasses wearers are perceived as smarter, more attractive and are even more likely to be hired for a job than non-glasses wearers! Depending on the age of the child, share the most appropriate stats with them to bolster their confidence, and use as ammunition if they do get teased. They can tell their friends some people even wear fake glasses to make themselves look better or increase their chances of landing a job! It’s true.
Build-up the ‘cool’ option
Continue this theme, especially with older children, by highlighting celebrities, movie stars and singers that wear glasses such as Harry Potter, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. Mum or Dad might even want to point out a few “cool” looking, glasses-wearing celebrities their kids can identify with, perhaps providing a poster or letting them create a collage of their child’s favourite cool people wearing glasses.
Older children might be more easily swayed and consider their glasses uber cool, by adding a few special options to their specs, like photochromic lenses – after having checked with parents about the options up-sell of course.
Let them choose
Allowing the child to pick their own glasses instils a sense of ownership, making it more likely they will wear them and love them. If parents are unsure about their child’s taste, you can suggest that each family member picks one or two favourites and then both parent and child decide on the final pair together. This also presents a good opportunity to discuss the value of a purchasing a spare set of frames, highlighting the normal tips such as, glasses are not something they will grow out of in two months’ time; that breakages and lost glasses are common with younger patients; and that you offer discounts on a spare pair or insurance or whatever deal you may have.
Keeping ‘em clean (the specs, not the kid)
Add to the specialness of owning and caring for their new pair of specs, by explaining to the child how important it is to clean their wonderful new glasses properly, while offering them a special cleaning kit, only they can use (with mum and dad’s help if they need it of course).
Set up a wearing routine
Consistency is key to getting a child’s compliance and eventual acceptance of wearing their new glasses. If the child persistently takes their glasses off, then the parent should persistently put them back on, with all the positive noises about why they should do this and how good they look. The process can wear thin, but being consistent is usually the only thing that works well, consistently.
If the child needs to wear glasses all the time, suggest to the parents that they incorporate them into their ‘waking-up’ routine ie. when you take your covers off in the morning, put your specs on, then you can get up, go to the bathroom and eat your breakfast.
This may be difficult for younger children so the advice I’ve been given is to start slowly. Ask their parents to suggest they wear them for an hour at a time, preferably doing something they enjoy, and then build up wearing time gradually. A good move is to suggest they put them on their child when they are watching a favourite TV show or movie for more extended wear practice; all the while subtlety highlighting how lovely they look, and how well they can see with them on versus off.
Praise is positive
Ask any child psychologist, positive reinforcement works. Encourage parents to praise their child if they put on their glasses on of their own accord. Beware the dreaded reward/treat path, however, as that can sometimes lead to unwanted effects, ie. the child refusing to wear their glasses unless they get a lolly! Rather than any immediate gratification, parents could suggest a more delayed form of reward - a day out at the zoo or another favourite spot after, say, a month of wearing their wonderful new specs.
Renee Lunder is an Australian freelance journalist and proud specs wearer. “They are as much a part of me as my limbs! My children have only ever known me with them. I wouldn't be ‘Mum’ without them!”