Welcome to our weekly online series on parenting advice with local expert Dr. Deborah Wood.
Dear Dr. Debbie,
My six-year-old son is going to get his vision checked and will likely be prescribed glasses. Dad and I both have worn them – currently they’ve been misplaced, and we’re doing without. Grandma, with whom we live, wears glasses, as does my son’s older half-sister. Actually, my son and I both have appointments, since I’ve decided I really need them for driving. Are there any good tricks to helping him get used to wearing them?
Seeing into the Future
Dear Seeing into the Future,
Be a good role model. Use allies. Field his concerns/objections and address them.
Having appointments together is a great idea. Our children learn so much from our example – less so from our words. My recommendation, if possible, is for you to go first, so he can see how compliant you are with the exam. Then, you and Daddy should work harder on taking good care of your own glasses! A spare pair is a good idea, if you can afford it, since children, even more than adults, are prone to misplacing and breaking things.
Opticians and optometrists who are used to working with children are very good at helping them “see” the good reasons for using their glasses correctly. He or she becomes an ally you can refer to in discussing the glasses, as in, “Dr. Ray helps many children get the glasses they need to help them see. He will have lots of frames for you to pick from.” Later it will be “How did Dr. Ray show you how to carefully set the frames in the case so the lenses don’t get scratched?”
Grandma and big sister could be included in the team of experts at wearing glasses. They can tell your son about their trials and triumphs related to vision problems and the solutions glasses provide. (My own story involves not wanting to wear my new glasses in front of my friends and being atrocious at sports because of it. Once I got over myself – I could actually knock down some bowling pins!)
Do you know if he is nervous about his peers’ reactions? If so, give examples of true friends and how to ignore comments that are hurtful. A true friendship can carry us through hard times and allows for differences between us. He may not believe you, but over time this is one of life’s best lessons.
Is he uncomfortable with the frames on his nose and ears? Tell him you can ask the optician about different frames for comfort. Find examples of things, such as seatbelts, that are uncomfortable if you are paying attention to them, but after a while you don’t notice them anymore. Hopefully, he concurs.
Maybe his personality just resists change of any sort. Try not to have other big changes expected of him during his initial adjustment. See if the eye doctor would agree to starting off on a part-day schedule as your son gets used to this big change in his life.
Hopefully, once he experiences the world in focus, he will clearly see the benefit to wearing glasses!
Dr. Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at www.drdebbiewood.com