Eye Contact in Children


Why do we use it?
We use eye contact to let a person know that we are talking to them?

Why a child may not make eye contact?
A child may not look you in the eye for several reasons. For some children it can be related to attention. If a child has trouble paying attention, they may be focused on other things around you. For others, it is too overwhelming to look someone in the eye and can cause anxiety. When you look someone in the eye it naturally adds social pressure. Think about how you feel when you scan the room and catch someone’s eye when you are giving a big/ important speech? This can cause you to pause or throw you off if you don’t practice. For others, it can overwhelm their sensory system.

What can we do to encourage it?
We can do several things to encourage kiddos to maintain eye contact.
• Position yourself at eye level or below eye level, looking up is harder and can also be impacted by lights in the room or outside
• Remind a kiddo before they talk to look at your eyes, and practice before you start the activity
• Point to your eyes to draw attention to them or lift an item to your eyes (i.e. if you are talking about a ball, hold the ball next to your eyes)
• Use more simple language, if someone feels overwhelmed by language they may look away to attempt to retain all of it
• Play a turn taking game that has something visual (i.e. Headbands) this will draw the attention to the appropriate area.
• Be Animated: exaggerate your expressions, this will draw their attention to your face



For more information, visit http://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com