The Eye Patch Project
Wednesday, October 21 2015
Every human being loves praise. Tell me that I look good in my new outfit today and I will be over the moon. It really can be a confidence builder. But if no one notices that I have a great new outfit, I begin to question if the outfit is all that great.
Praise is very important when dealing with young children, especially young eye patchers. These little tykes are in need of some big time love while patching. Try to really exaggerate those compliments, "I LOVE YOUR EYE PATCH" , "YOU LOOK SO FANCY!" "I BET THAT EYE PATCH GIVES YOU SUPER POWERS!". Your child will be beaming from all the positive attention and rewarding the good behavior will help reinforce their choice to wear their eye patch without fussing. Remind family members and friends to take time to give the eye patcher a boost during the child's eye patch time with a big inflated compliment.
On the other hand, bad behavior like taking the eye patch off, or fighting when told to put it on, should be met with an under-reaction. Be aloof and let them know with a calm voice that they need to put it back on. Try saying something like "oops your eye patch is off, let's get that back on." Controlling your emotions and being matter of fact will help deflate the bad behavior. In most situations, your child will mirror your emotions. If you are upset dealing with the patching therapy, they will be too. Do your best to inflate the good emotions and behavior, and remember it is just as important to deflate the frustrations of both you and your child.
Tuesday, October 13 2015
Getting a toddler to wear an eye patch is very challenging. They are too young to understand why wearing an eye patch is neccessary, but old enough to take the eye patch off on their own. It's hard to reason with toddlers. However, we do know that they understand the concept of rewards, especially treats.
You don't want to become a candy dispenser, however rewarding your child for wearing their eye patch can definitely get you off to a good start. Find a timer to use like the timer on your stove or using a special ringtone on your phone. Tell your toddler that when the timer goes off, if the eye patch is on, they will get one m&m candy (chocolate chip, skittle, marshmallow, grape, berries, cheerio, fruit loop, etc.) Set the timer for 2 minutes. If you see your toddler trying to take off the eye patch, remind them that they have to wait until the timer goes off. Don't force them to comply. When the timer goes off, smile, clap, and give them the treat. If they do not have the eye patch on say, "Oh no, the timer went off and you are not wearing your eye patch. Let's try again." Reset the timer and try again. Try hard to distract them for those 2 minutes by dancing. singing or doing an activity with them. Reward them everytime the timer goes off if they have their eye patch on, even if they take it off but put it back on when you remind them. So they cannot predict when the timer will go off, set the timer for random amounts of time. Start at 2 minutes and then 4 minutes, then back to 3 minutes, gradually increase the time to 30 minutes and then one hour.
You will not have to do this forever. It may take a few days to a week to build up to your full patching time recommended by your doctor. Be patient. Remember the vision in the bad eye is low. Eye patching works if you stick with it.
Sunday, October 04 2015
If you have an eye patcher in your life, you may become frustrated with the fuss they make when told "it's time to wear your eye patch". Have you ever wondered why they get so upset with you? Try spending one morning with your child and wear an eye patch with them.
At first, it is very disorienting and can make you feel dizzy, even sick to your stomach. The feeling will go away after a few minutes if you calmly look around and slowly become more comfortable with your new view. As you look around, you begin to feel vulnerable and realize half your world disappears. You start twisting your head making sure you are not missing anything. Shadows can catch you off guard and if someone enters your vision from your patched side it can actually startle you. Try to go about doing your daily activities. It's difficult, it's very difficult.
Now think about your child. Your child is actually patching their good eye. So the eye they depend on for vision is now covered, and the "bad" eye their brain has been ignoring is the sole source of their vision. That's rough. We all need to remember this. It may take days before you can build up to one hour of good eye patching. Some kids are required to patch all day, take it slow. Eye patching is a challenge and these little kiddos are superheroes. So when you get frustrated with the fuss your little one is making, take a deep breathe and give them some time to adjust, give a hug, or a high five. They deserve a little extra patience and TLC.