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How to Prepare Your Kids for Their First Optometrist Visit

There are plenty of kids who are programmed by the television to believe that any type of medical visit is associated with danger. As a parent, it’s your job to facilitate a healthy relationship between your child and the medical professionals in their life. Whether it’s the doctor, dentist, or the optometrist, a child needs to know these professionals are there to help. Consider the following ways you can prepare your kids for their first optometrist visit.

Have the conversation

Talk to your children. You might find out that they’re not even afraid of the optometrist. They might feel completely indifferent or excited. You’ll never know until you have the conversation. As soon as you set the appointment, it’s time to start talking and preparing them. For young children, explain why they need to visit the optometrist. Tell them what they can expect to happen at the visit and why those things matter. Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them and giving explanations beforehand will help them to better understand what is happening in the moment.

Develop a healthy narrative

The optometrist is there to help. Put this message in language the children can understand. If you have kids who are absolutely in love with superheroes who save the day, present the optometrist as a superhero who helps people see better with glasses. This is definitely a superpower worth celebrating. When they can see the optometrist as someone who helps, they’re less likely to feel afraid.

Promise to stay with them

Talk with an optometrist to find out if it’s possible to sit in the chair with a toddler who might be afraid. If not, you can stay in the room and hold their hands. As long as your children know that you won’t leave them, this can provide some reassurance that everything will be okay. It’s one thing to hear about the optometrist. It’s another thing to actually sit in the chair with the dim lighting and look through the peepers. It can be intimidating for a child who’s already squeamish about the idea. Your presence can make the experience better.

Create an incentive

There are plenty of adults who treat themselves to a shopping spree or a favorite dessert after they’ve gone to see the doctor. You can do the same with your children. Incentivize the experience. In particular, if you have a child who needs to get glasses after the visit, involve them in picking out frames they love from somewhere like Cohen’s Fashion Optical. Then take them to see a movie or show so that they can enjoy their new clear vision. This will give them something to look forward to after the appointment is over.

Though a visit to the optometrist might not seem like a big deal to you, you’ve done it before. Your children have not. As long as you keep that in perspective, it’ll be easier to guide them through the experience with everyone’s sense of sanity intact.

Tim Esterdahl

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