“Look at my eyes.”
It’s a simple phrase that has made a world of difference in our family’s communication.
“Look at my eyes” is a reminder first of all to me. By most people’s standards, my 5 foot 4 inch height is nothing to boast about, but to my little ones, I’m huge!
Imagine being called to stand in front of someone who is two to three feet taller than you, especially when you know you’ve done something wrong. Scary, huh?
This simple phrase reminds me to get low. When giving instruction, answering questions, directing and disciplining my children — actually, with almost any dialogue I have with my children — I crouch down or kneel so they can see my eyes and I can see theirs. Being on the same eye level with my children makes a huge difference in our communication!
Telling my children to “look at my eyes,” helps eliminate distractions for them and for me.
Even if I’m crouched down and on eye level with my son, there is a big difference in what is communicated if he is looking around the room or if he is looking in my eyes.
If he’s looking around the room, he is most likely preoccupied with another thought or activity and isn’t really hearing what I am saying. If, however, I encourage him to look at my eyes and wait until he does, the amount of my instruction he hears, comprehends, and remembers skyrockets!
Gently requiring my children to look at my eyes helps them to focus.
If I’m truthful, though, this phrase also helps me to focus. How often I’ve given direction or instruction in vain while finishing up an e-mail, checking Facebook on my phone, or working on a household chore. Training and instructing my children is far more important than any screen I’m viewing or chore I’m doing. I’m just often too lazy to get off my seat and get low.
Look at my eyes helps me remember my priorities and focus on them.
Teachers often teach their students that a good listening habit is to look at the speaker. It is a way to show that we are listening.
In our culture, not looking someone in the eye while having a conversation can be a sign of disrespect.
Requiring my children to look at my eyes is practice for conversing with others outside of our home.
I often use a variation of look at my eyes and alternately say, “Look with your eyes,” when my children are speaking with or listening to others.
My children can be quite shy. Whenever they are talking with someone or saying a greeting, a goodbye, or a thank you, I encourage my kids to Look with your eyes while they are speaking.
Look at my eyes is a very simple phrase, but works well to remind, focus, and establish good habits in us and our children.
Action Point: When talking with your children, do you require them to look at you? Do you make the effort to look in their eyes? Start by getting down to your child’s level each time you talk. Make an effort to model respectful listening by looking into your child’s eyes and encouraging your child to do the same.
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Flickr Photo Credit: jessleecuizon