Mini Blog #12: Eye Contact – a Simple Way to Connect

Loving our children comes without effort but connecting with them can be challenging in the midst of fast paced days.

One simple way to foster connection is to increase your eye-to-eye contact with them.

As mentioned in last week’s blog, your sons and daughters need to know how precious they are in your eyes. This week’s blog is about expressing this with your eyes. Something powerful takes place when two people gaze into each other’s eyes. Gazing into each other’s eyes says, “I care about you. I see you. Let’s understand each other.” Thus with our eyes we encourage close relationships, because to be valued, to be noticed, and to be understood are all key to maintaining connection.

What a mystery our eyes are.

Not only are our eyes a marvelous creation, but they convey so very much.  With our eyes we convey emotion, express interest, and build rapport. On the other hand, by neglecting or refusing to give eye contact we convey disinterest as well as coldness. Avoiding eye contact keeps others at a distance. Child development specialists are concerned about the diminishing amount of eye contact many infants receive because parents opt to gaze at their devices during feeding time instead of at their child. They have come to realize that eye contact is vital for babies because it enhances emotional attachment.

 IMG_2935When my grandchildren have done something wrong, they won’t look into my eyes.

Refusing to give me eye contact is one way they declare, I am not going to listen – or give in.  I don’t want you to see me right now.” They deny me eye contact as well when they are feeling unsure of themselves or hiding something. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus referred to the eye as the “lamp of the body.” No wonder kids turn away with their eyes at those times they prefer to remain “in the dark.” It’s much harder to remain deceptive, or stubborn,  when they connect with you eye-to-eye.

What can you do:

  1. When a family member enters a room, look up and at them with a smile on your face. This conveys that they are more important than whatever you are doing and that you are delighted to see them.

  2. Teach and expect your children to look you in the eyes when you have something important to them. They will be far more likely to understand your requests – and comply with your demands – while they gaze into your eyes.

  3. When your child wants to talk, look at them and give them your full attention without interrupting. Listen with your ears as well as your eyes and refrain from giving quick-fix solutions.

  4. If your iphone tends to be your constant companion, be willing to put it down and break that connection so that you can connect fully with your child. Get serious about putting down your devices and declare certain times to be “device-free.” If you need more conviction, read the article at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/connected-to-our-phones-but-disconnected-from-each-other/article26715937/

  5. Be patient with your more reserved child who will struggle to make eye contact because it feels uncomfortable to him. He will avoid looking people in the eye because it makes him feel nervous. Pressuring such a child to make eye contact can also make him feel self-conscious. Get down at his eye level to make it easier for him.  Talk about his behavior in positive, affirming ways. Talk positively about why eye contact is important. Give him time to get comfortable and the space he needs to grown into this skill.

 

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