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5 Tips to Get Your Child to Wear Their Glasses

Nov 21, 2022
child wearing glasses

Your child’s first pair of glasses can be an eye-popping and life-changing experience worthy of a viral video. More commonly, wearing that first pair of glasses is a struggle from the start. Here are five tips to help your child wear and love their first pair of glasses.

Let your child decide.

From the day you see your child’s eye doctor and get that prescription print-out, treat it like a special treasure. This piece of paper is the token that lets your child into the magical world of the optical shop, where they get to explore spectacles in all different shapes and colors and styles to find their perfect pair.

Be sure to choose an optical shop that specializes in children’s frames and has lots of selections from many brands. This will also likely mean you’re working with an optician who can guide your selection and ensure the best fit once you’ve found a pair your child loves. Fit is essential to comfort and function, which are in turn essential to helping your child wear their glasses consistently.

Heap on the praise.

Once the frames finally arrive and your child puts them on at home for the first time, start offering lots of praise and positive affirmation. You can compliment their appearance or the way the glasses match their clothes, but don’t forget to emphasize how the glasses are enhancing their vision and helping them see all kinds of new and exciting details they may have been missing. If your child wears them only briefly at first, or for only small periods of time, then offer praise each time they wear the glasses a little longer. You’re their biggest cheerleader on this journey!

Show them they’re not alone.

Modeling is a very powerful way to get your child excited about their glasses. If you or other family members wear glasses, share that excitement with your child and show them how much the glasses help. If their friends or teachers wear glasses, point that out. Any time you see them interested in another person who happens to wear glasses (even if they’re cartoon characters or celebrities on TV), emphasize their positive qualities and remind your child that these people wear glasses just like your child does. You’re helping your child build a sense of community and belonging, which can build their own confidence in wearing glasses.

Reward good behavior.

Encouragement, praise, and modeling good behavior sometimes is still not enough; some children are just incentive-driven. In that case, use whatever incentives you can to motivate glasses-wear. This can be tangible, like sticker charts or access to special toys. It can take the form of an extra 10 minutes at the playground for each hour of glasses-wear. This can even include screen time. When the goal of glasses-wear is stimulating visual development, it’s acceptable to use screen time (within reason) as an incentive, as this is a very visually stimulating task.

Ask for help!

You are not alone in the struggle to get your child to wear their glasses. As pediatric ophthalmologists, we are very invested in getting your child to wear glasses. If your child is still struggling despite all the steps above, ask your prescriber for help. We would rather see your child for an extra visit to confirm that the glasses were made correctly and fit well than to see them back later with still uncorrected vision because they just did not wear glasses at all. Teachers and caregivers can also help reinforce all the practices mentioned above. Some children respond better to authority figures than to their own parents. We are all your allies in the efforts to improve your child’s vision!

Above all, stay consistent! I often make the analogy that children resist the urge to do everything at first - clothes, shoes, meals, etc. Most times, they are not objecting as much as they are trying to establish their own sense of agency and personhood. But just as the child in my office is clothed, fed, and wearing shoes as a result of their parent’s consistency, so, too, will they eventually wear glasses as well.

The Ophthalmology Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers routine primary and secondary care and clinical testing for children with visual impairment.

Featured Expert

Hersh Varma, MD

Dr. Varma attended Medical School at The Ohio State University and has been working as part of the Ophthalmology team at Nationwide Children's Hospital since July of 2021.

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