He Won’t Wear His Glasses

Hi Mamas,

My seven-year-old just got glasses. Last year he was having a lot of problems with reading and we finally got him to a reading specialist for help. She noticed that he was squinting alot when he read and suggested we get his eyes checked.

That’s when we found out. So we got the glasses for him and now he can read so much better and doesn’t get frustrated. But he doesn’t like the way he looks and doesn’t want to wear them. Now what do we do?? Help!

Roseanne

Dear Roseanne,

I’ll bet he looks adorable! But it is an adjustment for him and it may take some time before he feels “like himself” with his glasses on. At seven, children do care how they look and don’t want to stand out as different. But did you know that one out of every six children ages three through 16 wear glasses? Since it always helps to know you’re not alone, you may want to share that tidbit with him. Hopefully by the time school starts he will be comfortable with his new look. In the meantime, these tips may help speed things along:

  • Learn about the eye together and explain what his specific issue is. Show how the glasses correct his problem and marvel over how cool it is that glasses can help out so much.
  • Don’t make a fuss or indulge him in feeling sorry for himself. Be positive. Don’t tell him he’s being brave or handling this tough situation well. It’s just life. Keep your tone neutral and matter-of-fact when talking about his new glasses but do let him know that you think he looks great!
  • Praise him for remembering to wear his glasses when it’s time to read but don’t overdo it. Let him know that taking good care of his glasses and remembering to put them on shows how grown up and responsible he’s becoming.
  • Understand that he is going to feel a little self-conscious about his new glasses so don’t point them out when you run into friends or have them over to visit (although you may want to give them the heads-up in advance). Let him take the lead in talking about them.
  • Point out that when he gets older there may be alternatives to wearing glasses (like contact lenses or lasik surgery).
  • Let him know that glasses are really important but can also be a fashion accessory (this is often a bigger selling point with girls). Remind him that he can always change the look as he gets older or as styles change. Give him a big say in picking out the frames. Even though you already have his you can keep this in mind when he’s ready for a new pair.
  • Compile a mental list of loved or admired friends, family members, celebrities and sports figures who wear glasses. Work them (and their cool glasses) into the conversation in a SUBTLE way whenever the opportunity comes up. For example, “Oh, Tim. I saw the coolest picture of (whoever will make him smile) today. Did you know he wears glasses, too?” Then show him the picture. Just remember that this is something you have to be careful with. You don’t want to be too obvious.

Another way to ease the transition to new glasses is through books. This list may help:

The Harry Potter Books, by JK Rowling (Bloomsbury)
Mom, I Need Glasses, by Angrliks Wolff (Lion Press)
The Eyes of Kid Midas, by Neal Shusterman (Little Brown and Company)
Dogs Don’t Wear Glasses by Adrienne Geoghegan (Crocodile Books)
Libby’s New Glasses, by Tricia Tusa (Holiday House)
All the Better to See You With, by Margaret Wild (Whitman and Co)
Winnie Flies Again, by Korky Paul and Valerie Thomas (Oxford University Press)
X-Ray Mable and Her Magic Specs, by Claire Fletcher (Bodley Head)
The Arthur Books, by Marc Brown (Red Fox)
Glasses. Who needs ‘Em?, by Lane Smith (Viking)
Luna and the Big Blurr, by Shirley Day
Chuckie Visits the Eye Doctor, by Luke David

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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