Does your child need to train a lazy eye? Or perhaps you’ve stalled with your vision training? If so, we’ve gathered together a collection of tips and ideas here.
Whether you’re just starting vision training of your child’s eye by covering up the strong one with an eye plaster or patch or you’ve already started – but have stalled – in your child’s vision training, then keep reading!
We’ve gathered a collection of tips and ideas, which we have either tried ourselves successfully or had recommended to us by others in the same situation.
You can also find inspiration for visual activities here.
Choice of covering
The advantage of the eye plaster is that it sits tight against the face, which makes it difficult for the child to cheat, as some children do with an eye patch by pushing the patch slightly to the side. Some parents however experience that eye plasters are tough on the child’s sensitive skin, in which case a fabric eye patch can be a good alternative and will provide the skin with a period of relief.
Find the right eye plaster
What works for one child might not work for another, and vice versa. So if you have bad experiences with one eye plaster, then try using a different one. During the start-up phase, when the child’s skin needs to get used to having the plaster stuck to it generally, skin irritation can offer occur. But once the skin has become acclimatised to having an eye plaster on it, you can perhaps try again with the brands you tried earlier if you would like some variation.
If an area of your child’s skin starts to look red, it may help to cut the eye plaster down slightly so that it doesn’t stick to the entire affected area, thereby sparing the skin. You can also lose a little of the plaster’s stickiness by sticking it to your arm/trousers first, for example, before applying it to the child’s skin. This means that the eye plaster will not stick quite as firmly to the skin, which will make it easier to remove and thus more gentle.
You can also buy creams for use on overloaded skin. You could ask your local pharmacist what they recommend.
In the beginning, our daughter’s skin turned red from wearing the eye plasters, and this was regardless of which brand we tried (we tried four different ones). After a few weeks it was as if the skin had got used to it, and now we never have any problems with irritated skin, even though she uses the eye plaster around 5½ hours a day. So hang in there if you’re struggling with irritated skin.
Make it feel natural
As parents, it’s important not to feel awkward or embarrassed about the eye plaster, as this will rub off on the child. Instead, try to make it natural for the child to wear the eye plaster by doing everything you would normally do, both at home and out and about. People might stare a little more at a child who has a plaster over their eye and might even ask questions. However, by answering them openly, the child will learn to answer themselves as to why he/she has to wear an eye plaster and feel better about it.
Explain to the child why they have to wear the eye
You should explain to the child why they have to wear the eye plaster, as long as they are old enough to understand it, and naturally in a way that corresponds to the child’s age. Personally, for example, we tend to answer with “Alma trains so her eye gets strong,” when children ask questions.
A fixed routine can make it easier to make wearing the eye plaster part of everyday life. Personally, we have introduced the idea of applying the eye plaster as soon as our daughter wakes up. That way, we get the day’s vision training out of the way while she is still fresh and most ready for it, so we don’t have to fight about it when she starts getting tired in the afternoon. Some families immediately affix the eye plaster when the child awakes in the morning so the child does not experience it as ‘robbing’ them of their sight in the same way as if he/she wakes up with both eyes available, only then to have to cover up their strong eye.
Some families have found it helps to reward their child for good vision training – whether this is with a few chocolate buttons after each day’s training is completed, or a bigger reward that is given after a longer period of wearing the eye plaster. Check out our motivational reward posters in the shop.
Once the day’s eye plaster has been used, you can stick it onto the poster in the special area and, once you’ve stuck down 50 plasters, this could trigger a reward. This should be agreed beforehand between the child and his/her parents (an ice cream, a trip to the cinema and so on). The reward can be a way to make training with an eye plaster a part of the child’s daily routine.
Make it fun
Keep the child distracted with things that they find fun and exciting so that their focus is taken away from the eye plaster. You can find a number of suggestions for activities on the page ’Visual activities’.
In other countries you can buy arm locks that are placed on the child’s arms so they cannot bend them to pull the plaster off. I must admit that this idea does not appeal to me personally. As an alternative to this however, I have heard from other parents who have benefited from using inflatable armbands on very young children, as these make it hard for them to reach the plaster. I have also heard from other people who have put socks on their children’s hands when they have tried to pull the plaster off. We have not tried either of these measures ourselves, but they might be worth a try if all else fails.
Some people find it works to make the time spent wearing the eye plaster the time when the child is also allowed to sit with a computer or iPad. We were recommended ourselves to let our daughter use an iPad when she was just 7 months old. Listed below are a number of suggestions for visually stimulating apps suitable for children aged 0-18 months:
FisherPrice Development With Contrast Colors
FisherPrice B&W High Contrast / Black & White
Celebrate the good news
We have positive experiences of celebrating the small milestones in the family, such as when we have been to a check-up where it has been assessed that the sight has improved, even though our daughter is currently too young to understand it. But the fact that the family celebrates this thus involves her brothers, who are also part of our daily lives with eye plasters, and who help by telling us when their little sister pulls her plaster off 🙂
Treating the staff at your child’s day-care institution to a round of cake has also been successful. They can be credited with just as much of the honour as ourselves, perhaps more, for the progress we have made in training, as Alma wears the eye plaster a lot in day-care.
I have heard from people who have also taken the opportunity to let the child celebrate with friends in the form of a small party. Activities at such a party could include decorating eye plasters, or sticking eye plasters on the pirate’s eye while the children are blindfolded (just like in the game ‘Pin the tail on the donkey’).
If your child needs to train their eye to such an extent that they also need to wear an eye plaster in kindergarten or day-care, then the staff there play a big part in the improvement of your child’s sight. The incredible effort they have made at our day-care institution to make sure our daughter does her daily vision training and achieves the goals we set each day has been invaluable. Bringing a cake in now and then as a thank you can work wonders in regard to acknowledging this. 😉
What if your child pulls the plaster off?
Patience is a virtue… Even when it is constantly being tested. Persisting in sticking the plaster back on, and staying calm as you do so, will get you far. (See also the section ’Rewards’). Remember… You’re not doing this TO your child… You’re doing it FOR your child.
Keep it up!
There will be days where it feels like an impossible task. Keep at it! It will get easier, and it will be worth the effort. Because better sight will give your child greater quality of life.