Recently, I’ve gotten several emails asking me: ‘I love your shades but how do I get my kids to wear their sunglasses???’ So I thought I would write this blog to share some of our personal experiences on how we managed to get Brandon to love wearing his sunnies.
If you are reading this, then you may be a parent in the process of shopping for sunglasses for your children. That’s great! Protecting their eyes early on is so important, and sunglasses can be a fun and stylish accessory! If you want some quick tidbits as to why eye protection for little ones is so critical, read on-> why do kids need to wear sunglasses!
So you know you've made the right decision, but shopping for kids sunglasses can be difficult and honestly downright confusing. We know, we’ve been there! Ok, but that’s not why you’re here – you’ve already found the perfect pair of shades to protect your little one’s eyes and now the biggest perceived obstacle in your mind is ‘HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO GET THEM TO KEEP THEIR SUNGLASSES ON’. Please don’t get discouraged, it is possible. I know because we did it with our little guy.
As parents we want to help them foster good, healthy behaviors starting at an early age, like look both ways before crossing the street or wearing sunglasses whenever they are out. But how do you go about doing this?
Take baby steps. I recall the first time we put sunglasses on our 9-month-old baby Brandon, he barely kept it on for more than a second. We didn’t force the issue and we just moved on. For most children, this behavior was to be expected.
Kids who have never put on sunnies find it a strange sensation to have something resting on their face. This, coupled with the fact that everything appears darker whenever they put it on, makes it completely understandable that they find the overall experience somewhat odd and disorienting.
Getting them to like wearing sunglasses is much like breaking in a new pair of shoes - there is always an adjustment period. Every time we were out and it was sunny, we made sure to put the sunglasses on him. Like clockwork, shortly after we put it on each time he would take it off and play with it.
This kept on for a few weeks until one day we popped the sunglasses on his face when we noticed that the sun was bothering his eyes and amazingly he didn’t take it off right away.
While he did take it off shortly after, the key thing was it did stay longer on his face this time and that was a victory! Progress is key and that’s what you have to realize – unless you are one of those lucky ones whose kid loves to wear sunglasses – getting your children to appreciate and more importantly enjoy wearing sunglasses is going to be a long game.
This brings me to my second point – consistency. I think of getting your toddler to wear sunglasses is like forming a new positive habit like flossing every night. Flossing is one of those things people KNOW they should do but don’t. Much like kids wearing sunglasses.
Maxwell Maltz, whose studies and observations on behavior changes formed the foundation of many of today’s self-help gurus, stated that at a minimum it will take 21 days to form new behavior. In a more recent study by the University College of London which was published in European Journal of Social Psychology researchers found that it will take at least 18 – 254 days to form new habits.
So, what does this all mean? It just means, in conjunction with taking baby steps – you also need to consistently remind your child to put on sunglasses whenever they are out. Even if it means that they only keep it on for a few seconds at a time. Over time, those few seconds will become longer and longer and at some point, they will just naturally reach for sunglasses whenever it is sunny out.
Beyond consistency – what I have also found to be helpful to get them to wear sunglasses – is to involve them in the shopping process. When we were designing our sunglasses and picking out acetate, we asked Brandon which colors he liked and didn’t like. See below – our Chief Inspiration Officer hard at work picking out acetate colors and evaluating new frame options. This is one of his favorites: the Red Havana. To this day with all the options, he can choose from – he always opts for the frame he picked.
Now to my final point, kids love to emulate their parents. Many parenting guides have stated that kids learn so much about their world and how it works by watching their parents. The younger the kids are, the more cues they take from our daily actions.
Be aware that we are constantly being watched by perceiving little eyes. Knowing this, we should use it to our advantage. Even when Brandon was little, he always saw that my wife and I put on our sunglasses regardless of the weather. Just the other day – while driving him to school, I popped on my sunglasses before I started the car. He followed suit, and later with the morning sun piercing through the window, he shouted “so glad I got my sunglasses on daddy!”. Lessons learned - model the behaviors you wish to see in your kids.
So to recap what the key suggestions to getting your kids to love wearing his/her new shades:
1) Take baby steps – don’t force the issue – let your child wear the sunglasses however long he/she feels comfortable.
2) Be consistent – by consistently reinforcing that wearing sunglasses while its sunny (or not) will help solidify the importance of eye protection in their mind. Over time they will wear them for longer periods of time.
3) Get them involved in the shopping process – Let them choose the color and style that appeals to them and have fun with it! We have a mix of color and styles that will appeal to various tastes.
4) Be a role model – practice what you preach, by also showing that you take eye protection seriously they will too.
This is by no means an exhaustive guide to get your child to enjoy wearing their sunglasses but we do hope that this has given you some good starting points!
Cheers to sunny and eye-protected days!