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Ease Your Child's Anxiety Before An Eye Exam By Role Playing

When your child turns three, it's time to start thinking about eye exams. Between ages three and four, a child's eyes are fully developed and finished growing, so your eye doctor should be able to tell if your child is having vision problems. Also, taking your child to the eye doctor at a young age, gives the doctor time to correct common issues, such as a lazy eye, before your child starts school. Obviously, taking your toddler to the eye doctor is important, but what do you do if your child is afraid to go. Childhood fears of dentists and doctors are often fears of the unknown. So try this simple role playing game to help ease your little one's anxiety so he or she can walk into the eye doctor's office calm and confident.

What You Need:

  • Two chairs
  • End table or TV tray
  • Artificial tears
  • Low-powered flashlight
  • Mirror
  • Black-and-white pictures of shapes, animals, and numbers your child can recognize easily
  • Black marker (optional)
  • Medium-sized rectangle piece of cardboard (optional)
  • Tape
  • Variety of child-size sunglasses or play glasses (optional)

Prepare for Your Game

To prepare for your eye doctor role playing game, you need to turn an area of your house into a makeshift eye doctor's office. To do this, place one chair in the middle of the room, and place an end table or a TV tray next to the chair — this is where the "patient" will sit. Place a second chair in front of the TV tray, facing it, so that the "eye doctor" has a place to sit. Then, place your black-and-white photos, artificial tears, handheld mirror, and low-powered flashlight on the tray. Alternatively, you can lay your "tools" on your kitchen table and sit in two adjacent chairs.

If you're creative and want to play a more elaborate game, use your black marker and cardboard to make an eye chart. Then, use tape to hang the eye chart on a nearby wall.  You can also lay a selection of child-size sunglasses and/or play glasses out so that your little one can choose his or her glasses frames when the "eye exam" is over.

Role Playing an Eye Exam

You can role play your child's eye exam several different times, and even allow your little one to play the role of the doctor. However, during your first game, you should play the doctor and your child should play the patient.

  1. Welcome your patient to your office and show him or her where to sit.
  2. Explain how eye exams typically work — the doctor asks questions, puts drops in the patient's eyes, looks into the patient's eyes, and tests the patient's eyesight using pictures.
  3. Ask your child a few fun eye-related questions such as where are his or her eyes and what do eyes do. While these aren't questions that an eye doctor may ask your child, asking them will lighten the mood, help you gauge the extent of your child's knowledge about eyes, and give you the opportunity to teach your little one why regular eye exams are important.
  4. Discuss how the eye doctor will put eye drops in your child's eyes during the exam, and how the eye drops help the doctor see inside your child's eyes. Then, practice putting eye drops in your child's eyes with artificial tears to show him or her that the eye drops won't hurt.
  5. Talk to your child about how the pupils in the eye change sizes to adjust to light. Then, have your little one hold a mirror in front of his or her face, and use a low-powered flashlight into your child's eyes for a few seconds so that your child's pupils shrink. Remove the light so that your child can watch his or her pupils dilate.
  6. Have your child cover one eye with his or her hand — make sure your toddler isn't peeking. Then, hold your pictures up in front of your child. Have him or her describe each picture you hold up. Once you've went through all of the pictures, mix them up, and repeat the process with the other eye covered.

Role playing a visit to the eye doctor's office is a great way to ease an anxiety your little has regarding his or her upcoming eye exam. Just remember to relax and have fun so that your child associates the eye doctor's office with fun.