I have said some version of, “I can’t tell if you’re hearing me because you’re not looking at me/responding” many, many times during my parenting journey (most often when I’m telling my son to turn off the television and put away his toys). The idea that eye contact is an important part of acknowledging someone else’s words is a concept that doesn’t always come naturally to kids, particularly if you’re saying something they don’t want to hear.
As adults, though, we know that hearing the words isn’t enough. Eye contact shows the speaker respect, that their words matter. Without that acknowledgement, one might find oneself wanting to screech, “Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
But there’s a sweeter, more effective way to get your point across, and it actually comes to us from a child (via a story from Instagram user mommingonpurpose): “Listen to me with your eyes.”
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When I was in the first grade, we had a special speaker come to our class. For some reason, one thing she shared has stayed with me all these years. . She shared a story about her granddaughter. She had been making something in the kitchen and her granddaughter was trying to tell her something. She was nodding and saying, “uh huh, yes, I’m listening.” . “But Grandma, I want you to listen to me!” . Still mixing and baking. “I am listening, sweetheart! What is it?” . “No, Grandma, listen to me with your eyes.” . . From there, the speaker talked all about how truly listening is listening not just with your ears, but also with your eyes. . Fast forward twenty+ years, that story still has stuck with me! . It’s such an impactful concept! To truly listen to what someone else is saying, especially our kids, sometimes we need to quit multi talking and be so fully present that we’re listening with our eyes as well as our ears. Eye contact at their eye level tells our kids, “What you are saying matters to me and I’m all in on this conversation.” . The concept goes the other way too! Sometimes when I really need to be heard, I’ll get down on my kids’ eye level and ask them to listen to me with their eyes. Then a little kit of magic happens and they actually pay attention to what I’m trying to say ???? . What are some of the earliest life lessons you can remember?? . . . . . . #listen #listeningskills #momblogger #mommingonpurpose #momming #momlife #communication #intentionalmom #intentionalparenting #emotioncoaching #lifewithlittles #toddlers #toddlerlife #littlekids #parents #parenting #christianparenting #childrenareablessing #teachingchildren #parentingmemes #mommymemes #mommemes #lessonslearned #momhack #momadvice #parentingpearls #parentingadvice #momspiration #momspirationmonday #qotd
Of course, as this story points out, listening with one’s eyes goes both ways. The next time you’re prepping dinner while your child tells you a long, winding story about the level they’re on in their favourite video game, take a moment to pause and listen with your eyes. You might even drive the point home further by saying something like, “Oh wait, let me stir this real quick and then I’ll come over to you so I can listen with my eyes.”
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