My 3 year old has been wearing glasses for a couple of months. She is long sighted and has a turn. We were told some time ago that she may have to wear an eye patch and at our latest hospital appointment this was confirmed.
Since we were aware that she may have to wear a patch, we have been preparing her by reading the book The Pirate of Kindergarten (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))
In the book the main character Ginny wears a cool, black Pirate eye patch. My daughter has taken this book to pre-school and the childminder and liked the idea of being a Pirate. When the ophthalmologist put a patch on her eye it wasn’t like this at all, it was white, adhesive backed and she has to wear it under her glasses.
She has to wear it for 2 hours a day but was very scared when I first tried to encourage her to wear it.
But I don’t like it. I won’t be able to see properly if I wear an eye patch.
On the first day we managed 15 minutes with a lot of encouragement. First port of call bribery,
If you wear it for a whole week I will buy you a special treat.
This helped us through the first hurdle of getting it on.
Secondly, reassurance; we sat together watching her favourite programme and had cuddles whilst I told her how brave she was. After 15 minutes we removed it.
I have a friend whose daughter wears an eye patch, I asked her advice. She said that she always reinforced the idea that by wearing the eye patch the other eye would get really strong.
I tried this and lo and behold it worked. On day 2 she managed to wear it for an hour. When she removed it she said
My eye is really strong now.
- Use a timer or set the duration of an activity or television programme as the point at which the patch is removed.
- Do something that the child really enjoys when wearing the eye patch. We have watched favourite programmes whilst having a cuddle, read stories and made a farm from cardboard boxes. I ask ‘what would you like to do when you have your eye patch on?’
- Decorate the patch. The ophthalmologist gave us a book that featured children wearing patterned patches. Our patches are not patterned but they include stickers to decorate them . Some of these are white for the children to colour in. I suggested my daughter decorate the patch with felt pens when she was colouring the sticker. Next time we are shopping I am going to let her choose stickers for the patch, some sparkly gemstones might go down well.
- Keep reinforcing how brave they are, we all give her lots of attention when she is wearing it which she loves and constantly remind her that she is making the other eye really strong.
- Let them choose when they want to wear it.
By day 3 she kept it on for 3 hours and wore it to her friend’s house. On day 4 she woke up and said
Shall I put my eye patch on?
Do you want to?
She decorated her patch put it on before the school run and kept it on all morning which included a visit to softplay. She isn’t worried about other children’s reactions (possibly helped by the book) and hasn’t had a negative reaction yet. I think if we customise it to the limit other children might even be jealous.