For many people, going to the eye doctor is a piece of cake and nothing that they should be afraid of. For them, they think of it as just making an appointment with your nearby optometrist, sailing through the exams and treatments with ease, and going about their business and day without any negative thoughts in their minds. For kids though, it’s a completely different tale. The most critical element of an eye exam—and the most challenging part for children—is keeping calm and stagnant throughout the whole thing. If you’re a parent who has trouble getting your fidgety, squirmy child to sit still during an eye test, it is best that you read and assess the information down below. Here you will find a list of 5 strategies to assist you persuade children to sit still and stay calm and happy during their eye exam.

Prepare Them in Advance

It is best that you inform your children that they will be required to sit still while having their eyes tested when meeting with the eye doctor. Allowing them a little additional time to assimilate the information will help them be more prepared for what is coming up for them and that is very important for having a successful appointment. This will more than likely increase the likelihood that they will be well-behaved and less fidgety, which will not only help the doctor finish the appointment quicker, but will also allow them to obtain accurate results from the tests. Furthermore, surprising them at the last minute, like telling them that they are going to their favourite place, when in reality you’re taking them to the optometrist, will result in complete mayhem. It is best that you don’t pretend that you guys aren’t going to an eye exam and rather notify them about what’s actually going on.

Be Positive

Your children will benefit psychologically from associating “good” terms and objects with going to the eye doctor for an eye exam. It is best that you maintain a positive attitude and smile throughout the time before, during and after their eye exam because this will help to persuade them that their eye exam will be and was a fantastic experience.

You should also schedule your own full eye exam at the same time if you truly want to go the additional mile and help them with their problem. This way, they can observe you do it before getting into the chair. This will encourage them and make them believe that if their parents can do it, they can too!

Turn It Into a Game

When it’s time to sit still, you can distract your child by playing a game with them and keeping them focused on you instead of the actual eye exam. For example, when they are supposed to sit still and remain calm, you can challenge your child to a statue-standoff, which is a game where the first person who moves loses. You can also play a game that’s main goal is to hold one’s breath for the longest they can and whoever can hold their breath the longest wins! This ensures a seamless test for you, your child, and your optometrist because the child would not be as focused on the eye exam as they would be if they weren’t playing a fun, enjoyable game with their parent(s). If they win, it will serve as another good link with seeing an eye doctor because children always love winning in anything.

Role-Play Beforehand

To help your kid stay well-behaved and still throughout their eye-exam, you can emulate an eye test at home with objects around the house. What you can do is put your kids to the test by having them read signs and labels from a distance and pretend that you are the optometrist. You can also replicate the actual eye exam and give them a cover test by having them cover their left and right eyes with a spoon or some type of object similar to that, one at a time. This way, by the time their appointment arrives, they’ll be an eye exam pro that is calm and prepared for anything! You may also help them practise sitting motionless during meals at home. Activities that demand concentration, like colouring or puzzles, also boost memory and motor abilities, so it is recommended that you make them do those kinds of things too.

Reward Your Child

Kids always love rewards and special treats. With that being said, to help them remain calm during their eye exam and actually enjoy going to the optometrist, you may give your child a treat for behaving and sitting still during an eye test, similar to the famous lollipop-after-the-doctor reward that is commonly used in these kinds of workplaces. Kids enjoy earning incentives, whether it’s a scoop of ice cream, a movie of their choosing, a new toy or staying up beyond their bedtime! So, having said that, you can use this to your advantage and reward them the next time you go to an eye exam because this will, again, allow them to associate something good with something that they may potentially be nervous or scared of.

To various people around the world, eye exams may seem like nothing but a breeze to complete. Many can go visit their optometrist and get their eye exam done without a single negative thought passing through their mind. However, this is not the case for little kids. As a parent, it is your responsibility to help your kids behave and stay still throughout their eye exams, as it would make the job of the optometrist easier and would allow them to get the most accurate results for your kid. With that being said, to help your child remain stagnant throughout their appointment for their eyes, you can prepare them in advance, remain positive throughout the whole thing, turn the exam into a game, role-play with them beforehand and reward them after completing their eye tests. By doing all of this for your kid, you are helping them become more comfortable with going to an eye doctor and completing their eye exams without any problems.