Whether you’re 8 years old or 80 years old, eye exams can be a daunting experience that leaves you sleepless and anxious the night before. Without proper knowledge of the exam you are going in for, one can begin to worry about the outcome of the visit.
Because of a child’s limited understanding of the world and limited experience inside a doctor’s office, they may become easily agitated and increasingly nervous at the prospect of going to the eye doctor.
But, worry not! You don’t have to let your child suffer this anxiety alone.
Here are 4 tips you can use to prepare your child for their next eye doctor visit that are sure to keep their stress level low, and make for a better experience for everyone involved!
Talk To Your Child
The first, and possibly the most important thing you should do to prepare your child for their appointment is simply to just talk to them about what to expect from their appointment.
It is important to reassure your child that the exam is not dangerous, and that there won’t be any shots involved, as the thought of getting a shot can stick in a child's mind, and most children associate doctor’s offices of any kind with shots.
Speaking of association, it can be helpful for your child to relate the different parts of the exam to a game, such as Simon Says, or a matching game. This type of strategy can often make light of a nerve-racking situation and can turn a child’s mindset completely around when it comes to the doctor’s office.
Practice Eye Drops
Without doubt, one of the worst parts of an eye exam for a child can be the dilating eye drops. If you know your child will be receiving them for the first time, or if they dislike them in general, it is important to familiarize your child with the action of receiving an eye drop.
Use one of their toys or stuffed dolls as a prop, and show them the action of putting an eye drop in. Then, once they understand how it works, practice the action with your child by simulating eye drops, tilting their head back and having them blink once the ‘drop’ goes in their eye.
Bring Their Favorite Toy
Having something familiar for the child to hold onto can help them stay calm and collected. Bringing even a few toys or stuffed animals that the child can hold onto can really help the child feel safe.
Besides toys, here are a few other necessities that you should make sure to have on hand:
- Diapers (if applicable)
- A list of all medications your child is taking
- Sunglasses, if their eyes are being dilated (However, most offices will provide post-dilation glasses)
Additionally, if you know you will have questions for the doctor, list them out before you go.
It may not seem important to think about when you schedule your appointment, but it can be!
Try to avoid scheduling during your child’s nap time, or lunchtime. Rather, try to schedule an appointment for the time of day when they are usually the most alert and centered.
These tips are mainly to help your child be as prepared and calm during the eye appointment as possible.
While an eye exam, or any other doctor’s appointment, can be a scary experience for a little one, there are plenty of ways that you, the parent, can prepare them, and yourself, for the task.
At the end of the day, preparing your child for the doctor is all about connecting with them, realizing the fear they have of the unknown, and doing your best to quell those fears and set them up for success.