Why doesn't my child always look me?
Making the right amount of eye contact is a subtle skill which most children absorb from their interactions with those around them. However, some children struggle to develop the right balance of eye contact for communication. They may not realise that they can communicate with you by looking at you or that there are things to learn by looking at your face.
How can I help?
- Eye contact should not be taught, but can be encouraged. The main thing is not to force it or ask for it. Children, who are constantly told “Look at me” may end up staring at you excessively because they don't understand the unwritten social "rules" of eye contact!
- Allow eye contact to happen naturally. Position yourself in front of your child in the line of vision.
- Sit opposite your child to share a book, play a game or do a puzzle. Make sure your eyes are at a similar level which may mean sitting on the floor.
- An important factor for encouraging natural eye contact is for the child to be motivated and engaged with you and enjoying the activity.
- Choose an activity that your child is interested in, such as blowing bubbles, or balloons or turning a spinning top. Wait for the child to glance up from the toy to look at you.
- If your child does not look at you, lift the toy or object in front of your face momentarily to get “near eye contact”
- Try tickling games, bouncing on the bed, peekaboo, chasing, or hide and seek, which are often great ways to gain your child’s natural eye contact. Pause at the end of the game to see if your child will look at you again.
- Singing is usually very motivating for children and they often make their best eye contact with you when you sing action songs together.
- Don’t be too concerned if eye contact comes and goes. The aim is for your child’s verbal and non-verbal communication to work together as a whole and eye contact is just one small part of communication.
- Be aware of forward facing buggies, travelling in the car and using mobile phones, which will inhibit your eye contact with your child.