Our youngest son is 3 years old and he attends daycare five days a week. Like all daycares, he gets exposed to viruses and bacteria from the environment more than compared to staying at home. We know that toddlers are not the cleanest human beings! Although, some say that daycare is a great way to build a toddler's immune system. I'll write another blog on that some other day.
Anyways, when our son woke up one morning, we noticed a bunch of yellow eye boogers in both of his eyes. In addition, they were watery like he had cried. My wife then knew it was pink eye because our oldest son had it before. Conjunctivitis, also known as Pink Eye is an inflammation or infection of the outer membrane of the eyeball and the inner eyelids. You can search for the pictures online since I don't want to gross you out here! I guess it's common for toddlers to get this. Pink eye is also very contagious, so make sure you tell them to wash their hands frequently! You should wash yours, as well, since adults can also get this condition.
We took our son to the doctor that day to get a better diagnosis. My wife and I are not medical professionals, but we experienced our oldest son getting pink eye in the past. After speaking with the doctor, she did confirm that it was pink eye and gave us some eye drops to take home to treat his baterial infection.
Now the fun part... how do we put eye drops into our son's eyes when all he does is cover them with his itty bitty hands, while yelling at the top of his lungs? We needed to find a better strategy and this was what we came up with while doing our research:
- Distraction: Try to distract them with something they like during the process. We turned on the IPad (yes, this is a solution at times) and gave our son one of his favorite fidget toys to hold and play with.
- Reinforcement: Reward them with a small treat or praise them after the eye drops to help establish a positive association with the process. We told him that he will get a gummy fruit snack everytime he'd take the eye drops like a champ.
- Involvement: Have them get involved in the process. We asked our son to help by using his free hand to open up his eye lids. This was a bit difficult, but it got better a few times around.
- Explanation: Tell them why they have to take the eye drops. We told him that he needed the drops in order to feel better. Which meant that he can go back to school to play with his best friend.
- Positioning: They need to feel comfortable. Have them choose their location. For our son, he liked sitting against our family room couch where it was comfortable and easy for him to tilt his head. This made it easier for him to receive the drops.
- Patience: Be patient with them as rushing can increase their anxiety. This was the hardest part for my wife and I... In the beginning, we were getting upset with him because it was just taking so long for a simple task. That made our son rebel. He did not like the drops even more. We became more patient with him during the process making it a more positive experience.
It's also important to know that every child is different and that it may take some trial and error to find the best approach. It took us a few times to get eye dropping in a positive direction for our son. It definitely was no walk in the park for us in the beginning!
I hope this blog helps you to get your child to receive those eye drops as it can be a daunting task. Good luck!