Jun 26 2007

how to administor eye drops to your pre-school child

Published by at 6:01 am under amy's head,daily,kids,likes & irks

It occurs to me that this whole pink eye situation has taught James and I one thing: How to give our children eye drops with very little fuss and bother. And so, I will attempt to share the one good thing to come out of this mess – our professional knowledge on giving kids eye drops.

  1. First things first. You must acquire some patience. It does no one any good to become frustrated and controlling. Think about it. Much like sleeping, eating and pooping, there is nothing, NOTHING you can do to make your child open his or her eye. If they decide to screw their eyes closed, you are screwed. Totally and completely screwed. And attempting to wrench someone’s eyes open long enough to drop in some eye drops will NOT be the most pleasant experience in the world. You must acknowledge that the instinct for ANYONE when something comes near the eye, is to blink, or otherwise protect the eyeball. When the kid throws up his or her hands in defense, they cannot help it. That is what the brain is telling them to do. And the VERY WORST thing you can do is to get all loud and yelly, and order them to put them hands down, or to stop blinking, or to open your eyes already, dammit! Yes. Not good things to say. Just keep in mind that you have to do this (of course your dosage may vary, but probably about) THREE times a day for the NEXT 7-10 DAYS. If you lose your cool and get your kid all apprehensive about this on the very first day, you are going to be in hell for the next week. Seriously. If you feel like you’re losing your temper, it’s better to take a break, and try again in 10 minutes.
  2. Television. Television is your friend. Lay the child down on their back, so that their head is closest to the TV, and their feet are farthest away. Load up the tivo (what? you don’t have tivo? well, I can’t help you then. DVDS! There we go!) with their favorite show, preferably a new one that they haven’t seen before. Something with talking. Cartoons filled with primarily physical comedy doesn’t have enough to draw their attention (at least, this is how it was for our kids. They love tom and jerry, but it wasn’t enough for eyedrops time.) Their position on the floor is such that they have to crane their neck upwards to see the TV. Not only their necks, but their little eyeballs have to look upward too. If they tilt their head too much so that their eyes aren’t as open as they could be, just gently slide their head down a little so that they have to keep their eyes as open as possible.
  3. Hands can be a problem. They just can’t help themselves from reaching up and blocking their eye from the eyedrops. James will actually lay the kid down with arms at their side, and straddle them gently so that his knees on the floor is holding their arms in place against their body. (Please don’t put your knees on their arms!) I sit to the side of the kid with 1 leg holding one arm, and then i put my other leg across their body with my knee up in the air so that my foot on the floor holds their other arm in place. Just remember to be gentle and explain that you’re helping them to keep their hands at their side. Ethan got pretty good at this by himself so that we don’t have to hold his arms at all, but if he accidently lets his hands fly up to his face, we’ll just have him put his hands under his bottom, and the pressure of sitting/laying on his own hands is enough for him to keep them there.
  4. Now in the beginning, I’ve found that turning the sound on the TV up a bit so it really captures their attention is helpful. (I actually discovered this when I would give Ethan haircuts as an 18-month-old and he was scared of the loud clippers. I’d turn the tv up, and he would forget all about the clippers. I had to turn it WAY up though.) They are very concered about that bottle of eye drops, and they want to keep track of it, and they’re thinking, “I’ll just squint and it will never go in,” but then, “OH! Look at that! It’s Charlie and Lola! Lola is small, and very funny! They have to complete the tasks their mom gave them in time to watch their favorite programme, Space Family Hudson, the Faaa-mi-ly in space!” The louder volume than usual will really distract them and they’ll crane their heads to see what’s going on. Just be patient (PATIENT PATIENT PATIENT!) and watch for that opportunity to drop the eyedrops in. You may have to hover there for 5 minutes with the bottle above their eye, readjusting the tilt of their head, or gently pulling the lower lid down, just waiting for PERFECT moment to drop them in – it’s gonna take a while, and it may take a few tries, just beeeee patient. No freaking out or yelling at the kid allowed. I sometimes have to say, “Look! what is charlie DOING?!” to Jocelyn, as she is harder to do than Ethan.
  5. REWARD SYSTEM! After every successful eye drop (and there will be plenty that just hit the eyelid when the kid blinks RIGHT at the wrong time, or flinches or throws up their hand in protest. Just say, “Oopsies!” wipe it off, and take up the waiting position again.) Where was I? After each successful eye drop, have something on hand for immediate gratification. We use M&Ms or marshmellows (the little ones). And don’t depend on just the treat to be the reward, you’ve got to be a freaking cheerleader and make them feel FANTASTIC. “YOU GOT ONE! GOOD JOB! You are SO GOOD at this! What a big girl/boy! You are! YOU get an M&M! Gimme five!” I can’t stress this enough. If you make this an unpleasant experience, they are going to resist EVERY time it’s eyedrops time. If you make it a big payoff after the yucky part, they will remember and not fight you tooth and claw when eyedrops time rolls around. We always have a little pile of M&Ms waiting for them after the whole ordeal is over. It’s gotten so that Jocelyn will get excited about eyedrops and say, “I’ll get the M&Ms ready!” when it’s time. (Of course, she sometimes fusses DURING, but at least when we say it’s time for eye drops, she doesn’t run howling away from us into the night.)
  6. A little more on the dropping of the drops themselves: I have found that it’s easier to tilt the body at a slight angle from the TV so that they are looking both UP, but also to the side a bit. This exposes more of the white of the eye for the drop. I always try to drop into the inner part of the eye, by the nose rather than into the outer side of the eye. It just seems like the lashes are longer and getting it INTO the eye is just a lot trickier if you’re trying to drop from the outside. Then I change the angle of their body so it’s easier to get to the inner eye of the other eye. This is getting pretty picky though, just get that sucker in anyway you can, I’m just letting you know my preference.

I think that’s it. That’s all my expertise on administering eye drops. I’ll be interested in seeing if a lot of search hits come my way from this post. I know that when we first had to give eye drops, we were totally bewildered on how exactly we could possibly accomplish this. Now, I’m happy to say that we don’t actually have to go through this whole routine each and every time. One of us has to drive to their school to give Ethan a dose of eyedrops at lunchtime and he manages that with very little bother. Today after I picked up Jocelyn’s Vigamox eye drops, I gave her her first dose in the car, with her sitting in her car seat. There was a time when I never thought THAT would EVER be possible. So if you are despairing at the thought of giving your kid eye drops, I hope this helped a little 🙂


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “how to administor eye drops to your pre-school child”

  1. […] You must — seriously — you must read this account from my friend who blogs at Crazy Mokes.? You know how hard it is to give a cat a bath, right?? That’s for pikers.? Try putting eye drops into active toddlers sometime: Much like sleeping, eating and pooping, there is nothing, NOTHING you can do to make your child open his or her eye. If they decide to screw their eyes closed, you are screwed. Totally and completely screwed. And attempting to wrench someone’s eyes open long enough to drop in some eye drops will NOT be the most pleasant experience in the world. […]

  2. Laynaon 10 Jul 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you for the story and the ideas. I tried this with my 4 year old and it didn’t work. I kept searching the web and found somewhere that taught pre-teens how to give themselves eye drops for contact lens use. They recommend that you close the eye then drop the liquid in the corner then open the eye. The liquid rolls in. It worked on my child! Wooohooo! That and bribing with chocolate. 🙂 Of course, that was this morning, we’ll see what happens this afternoon and night, this is only day 1.5 of 5! Thanks again for sharing! Your ideas may work on day 2 or 3. I at least have these ideas in my bag of tricks!

  3. jenon 10 Jul 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Great post, thank you for sharing. I have to deal with this for the first time today (on my way to pick up the drops now).

    I have a 4 year old and REWARDS ARE THE KEY! (let’s just hope it works for the drops) I better pile the M&M’s on the pharmacy counter too.

    Oh boy, here we go…