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The Power of Eye Contact

The Power of Eye Contact

The Power of Eye Contact

What do your children see when they look at you?

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!”

“Look at me!”

When your children look at you, what do they see? What is your face communicating to them?

One way to engage our children and build a trusting connection with them is through eye contact. We do this when they’re babies…we look into their eyes while we feed them and change them and sing to them. They see us smiling at them and talking lovingly to them.

Somehow this seems difficult as they get older. We get busy, our kids get busy. We have less time for eye contact…except when they’re in trouble. Then we demand their eye contact.

However, I have found I can still be stern and use my “mom voice” while also communicating their preciousness to them. This looks like giving them:

  • soft eyes (not stern eyes)
  • a soft mouth (not pursed lips)
  • speaking in a soft tone (not yelling)

When I make these shifts in the midst of correcting and disciplining my children, my kids respond more positively. They bounce back from tearfulness over consequences more quickly, they hold shorter grudges, and they are more easily able to respond to consequences rather than react loudly to them. They recognize they’re precious to me…even while they’re in trouble. They no longer focus on being the bad kid (or on mom’s anger)…instead, their defenses are more relaxed and they focus on the words I’m saying. Soft eyes communicate, “I love you…but I do not like the choice you just made. I love you too much to let you keep choosing this choice.”

Give it a try

Today, ask for your child to give you eye contact 3 separate times. Each time, tell them something you love about them or something you’re proud of them for. Let them see your soft, smiling eyes communicating how precious they are to you, coupled with your encouraging words. Let’s break the habit of asking for eye contact only when we are angry and they’re in trouble. You might try saying something like this:

“Let me see those eyes.” “There they are! I love seeing those eyes!”

And the next time you need to correct a child: 

1. Ask for eye contact

2. Allow them to see your soft eyes and soft tone

3. Speak calmly to them as you discuss consequences

They’ll recognize you love them and that they’re precious to you even when they make mistakes.

Speak Your Mind


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