A growing number of children needs glasses. Currently, about 1 in 10 ten-year-olds in the Netherlands wears glasses and this number is expected to rise. Providing fitting glasses for children may be a routine job for opticians, but for the child the prospect of wearing glasses can be quite daunting. Two aspects in particular play a role here: fear of how other children will react and ‘feeling different’. How can we make sure that children feel comfortable and confident with this new addition on their face?
Insecurity in children with vision problems
Children who walk around with undetected eyesight problems for a longer period of time may experience emotional and social problems. For one, children who are nearsighted can become very insecure: they experience problems when playing sports, they are unable to recognize their friends in the street, and they may consider many activities scary because they cannot see properly. Children may start feeling isolated and develop a fear of failure. Moreover, children who experience difficulties with reading from an IWB and other learning material are likely to fall behind in their education, which will further confirm their sense of failure. Fortunately, this is certainly not the case for all children! The fact remains, however, that nearsightedness can have a negative effect on a child’s self-esteem. When the child is eventually diagnosed with an eyesight problem and provided with glasses, they will have already developed a heightened sensitivity to negative feedback.
Tip for opticians regarding young customers
The most important tip is to talk with the parents about their own attitude toward glasses. A positive, lighthearted attitude toward the idea of their child wearing glasses makes the whole situation so much easier for the child (and it may not even become an issue at all). Encourage parents to leave the choice of glasses up to their child (they can let him or her choose from a preselection if necessary) and, if the child shows resistance, involve the child in deciding when the glasses should be worn. Needless to say: an open, positive, and friendly attitude toward the child helps make buying a pair of glasses a positive experience. We have listed four tips for parents that you can share on your social media, website, or flyer, and pass on to parents face to face.
Four tips for parents
Let your child decide for themselves
Instead of giving your opinion or advice straight away, ask your child what they think. Ask them, for instance: “What do you like about these glasses?”, “What do you think of the colors?”, “How do the glasses look on your face?” This way, you are letting them know that their opinion is valid. By letting your child do the talking, you instill in them the confidence that the glasses are right for them. Similarly, leave it up to your child to pick the glasses that he or she feels most comfortable with.
Come up with solutions together
Listen with an open mind and without judgment to your child’s concerns about wearing glasses. Do not dismiss their concerns straight away. When a child expresses their fear about how other children will react, parents often respond with: “I’m sure your classmates will really like it.” Instead, try to empathize by saying something along the lines of “I can imagine it must feel scary for you to go to school with your new glasses on for the first time.” The next step is to come up with a solution together, such as giving a short presentation about wearing glasses or about the eye test.
Lead by example
The most important tip of all: your child will pick up on any negative feelings you might express about the glasses, so letting these feelings go is an important first step. Try to make the whole glasses-wearing situation into a fun experience by going on a search for new glasses together. Search the internet for nice glasses, for instance, using Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. Or let younger children design their own glasses in a self-portrait.
Choose glasses that match your child’s lifestyle
Is your child a wild kid? Does it love playing outside or does it play sports regularly? Choose glasses with a sturdy frame so your child does not feel constrained by them when doing what they love doing most. Children should be able to play sports and romp around without having to worry about their glasses. Children who are less active but do participate in sports once in a while are advised to wear sports glasses during their sporting activities. Not only are they more comfortable – they are safer too.
We are Milo&Me, an international team of eyewear professionals, designers, and marketers who believe all kids should feel free to play the way they want. Wearing glasses should not get in the way of kids to sport, play and run around. We created kids eyewear with a perfect fit, extreme flexibility, and awesome stay-on capacity. And, perhaps most important of all… kids look awesome with Milo&Me glasses! Check out more about us and our frames on our website.