Adjusting to wearing glasses for the first time is difficult for anyone. It becomes even more complicated when it’s a child who needs those glasses. They often don’t understand why they have to keep them on their face all day long.
If you’re a parent who is struggling to get your child to wear glasses, the good news is that there is help for you.
Let’s start with some general advice for getting kids to wear their glasses, cover some minor adjustments you can make, and then we’ll breakdown some age-specific options.
Don’t fight it
If your child is bound and determined not to wear their glasses, punishment is not likely to help the situation. It’s more probable that scolding a stubborn child will make them even more defiant. And, glasses, being quite delicate, can quickly become collateral damage in a dispute. If you are dealing with an upset child, set the glasses aside and let them calm down. You do not want to build up negative associations around their glasses. Even though it’s not your intention, when you get frustrated or angry because they won’t wear their glasses, their little minds encode anger with wearing glasses.
The better approach begins with positive reinforcement. Right from the start, you want to make your child understand that they “get to wear glasses” instead of “have to wear glasses.” Glasses have the power to bring out your eyes, complement your wardrobe, and make your entire world sharper and more exciting.
When your child has their glasses on, remember to compliment them. Ask your friends and family also to make positive comments on your child’s glasses. If you or your partner have glasses, talking positively about wearing them yourselves can also go a long way.
Dress for Success
When you get ready in the morning, make putting on glasses the last and best step in getting prepared for the day. Make a show of putting them on at the end to complete your look. You want to turn glasses into the “cherry on top,” the crowning piece on your wardrobe, the thing that says, “I’m ready to go.” It may seem over the top, but creating a routine that continually reinforces just how great glasses are, goes a long way in your child excepting them.
After you’ve started your day putting on glasses, you will need to reinforce the idea throughout. If they take their glasses off, you will need to put them back on, gently. If you need to take them off, for a facewash or to clean the lenses, explain this to your child and then put them back on when you’re finished. It may feel, for a while, that you are putting glasses back on thousands of times each day, but stick with it. Eventually, wearing glasses will become routine for them, and you won’t have to keep putting them back in place.
Lose Sight of Glasses
Even though you start out celebrating glasses, the next step is to distract from them. By keeping your child engaged in other tasks, they will start to forget that they are wearing glasses at all. This strategy often works best if you can quickly pivot to something your child loves doing. If they have a favourite book or game, get that in front of them immediately after putting on their glasses. By starting with things they find exciting, it diverts their attention, and as you ease into the routine of the day, they will hopefully have lost sight of the spectacles.
Glasses are Completely Normal
It’s incredible how much can change in a generation. In the 1980s, glasses were often used in films to denote which character was the nerd or social outcast. For a lot of children, that social stigma transferred into bullying on the playground. Today, we celebrate glasses. Actors in movies with glasses now are smart, cool, and sophisticated. And, you need to make sure that your child sees this. A great place to start is with books written specifically for children with glasses.
The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses – a story about a young boy coming to terms with having to wear glasses.
Grady Gets Glasses – a story about a rabbit, Grady, who needs glasses. Grady learns about the different reasons all sorts of people need glasses.
Princesses Wear Glasses – a story about a brave and adventuring princess who happens to wear glasses.
Harry Potter – of course, if your child is a little older, they have likely heard of the Harry Potter series. These books continue to tell young readers that wearing glasses is not a bad thing.
Make Sure They Fit
It may sound obvious that a pair of glasses needs to fit correctly. However, a good deal of struggle with children’s glasses is caused by frames that don’t sit right. It should go without saying that if your child is old enough to have an opinion, they should participate in selecting the frames. Of course, when the glasses arrive, they need to also participate in the fitting. Rarely do new glasses turn up form the manufacturer ready to wear. There are a series of adjustments that need to be made to ensure an excellent fit to your face. When it comes to children, who are new to glasses, additional effort needs to be taken to make sure this gets done correctly.
The first thing to keep in mind is balance. Your child’s glasses need to distribute the weight equally, amongst the nose-bridge and the arms. If the balance is wrong, you will often find them slipping down, which can then lead to them being taken off repeatedly. You also want to ensure the nose pads lie flat against the nose. If those little supportive pads are off, this can be the source of a lot of discomfort. If the glasses are uncomfortable, it’s going to be hard to keep them on. The next thing to check is the arms, both the length and the width. The arms should fit long enough that they connect properly with your child’s ears, and the width should hold to the face without constricting.
Two, Three, and Five-Year-Olds
When it comes to infants, toddlers, and small children, the trick is to start slowly. Begin by having the glasses on for an hour under parental supervision and then gradually increase the time. Even an infant can become accustomed to wearing glasses if you build it up slowly. Many adults take time time to adjust to new lenses. For infants and toddlers who don’t know any better, it will usually require more time before it feels normal to have their glasses on. It’s also imperative when you’re trying to acclimatize a young person to eyeglasses that you model the correct way of taking the glasses off. Be sure to demonstrate how to do it gently, with two hands, and always right back into their case.
Some Additional Suggestions for getting your child to wear their glasses:
- Use a stuffed animal with a pair of toy glasses to teach your child the correct way to put the glasses on and take them off.
- Have a small celebration for their new glasses.
- If your child is a little older, have a conversation about why they need glasses.
- Show your child photos of other famous people who wear glasses.
- Have them place a sticker on the calendar for every day that they wear their glasses.
- Stay calm and composed. If your child is struggling, getting upset is unlikely to help. Take a deep breath and remember it may take some time for them to adjust.