It’s Thursday and time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline Project! This month’s theme is Communication. I’m focusing on listening without interfering, speaking clearly and using eye contact to maintain a connection between myself and the person I’m communicating with.
When I decided to focus on my communication skills this month I started paying more attention to when and how I made eye contact with people. I soon discovered that I made eye contact when I was feeling positive, and avoided making eye contact when I was feeling grumpy, irritated, tired or frustrated. When I noticed this, the big old lightbulb switched on over my head. AHA! The attachment circuit was malfunctioning without my consistent eye contact.
Eye Contact Is Essential
Creating and maintaining an emotional connection between two people requires eye contact. Whether it’s because the eyes are truly the windows of the soul or because eye contact triggers feelings of empathy, making eye contact with someone can be a powerful connecting force.
The importance of making eye contact when communicating with children is one of those things I knew intellectually but had let slip in my daily life. I’d let it become an unconscious thing, and somehow I ended up in the habit of shouting, “STOP JUMPING!” across the house instead of actually walking over there, calmly looking my child in the eye and checking in with her before making any requests that she change her behaviour.
The Eye Contact Effect
Simply making eye contact more often made a huge difference. Looking my child in the eye, even when I really wanted to be left alone for a while, helped remind me that we are two people here and her needs are important too. Making eye contact more often also reminded me of how little the girls really are. And I was reminded of all their other lovely little-kid traits too: exuberant, creative, imaginative and innocent.
The girls went out with Tom on the weekend and came back with their faces painted. It was so much easier to be patient and understanding of their childishness when they looked like a little rainbow and a little tiger. Somehow, the rest of the time I’d slipped into some rather unrealistic expectations.
Making eye contact a consistent habit that is part of my moment-by-moment parenting has made a positive change so far. Sticking with it even when I just want to be by myself is difficult, but 100% worth it. And I can’t believe I’d let it slip without noticing before now.