It is extremely important for your child to be engaged with you during a language interaction, and part of that engagement is through his eyes. As Michelle Garcia-Winner explains so well, what people are looking at is what they are thinking about. Our eyes are the gateway to our thoughts.
In addition, your child also gets a great deal of information about how sounds are actually made or articulated by looking at your face and mouth. So, your child’s speech and language will ultimately benefit from him looking at you.
For these reasons, we’ve talked a lot about giving your child face time. We’ve asked you to be in the same room, focused, and on your child’s level.
But what if your child still won’t look at you?
You could easily become the annoying parent, saying “Look at me,” one hundred times a day, but the fact is that many children who are having difficulties with speech and language avoid eye contact. They often seem to feel safer honing in on objects instead.
So…bring the objects up to your face.
If your child is interested in an object, use it.
If your hungry toddler wants to eat and you are offering breakfast choices, hold the yogurt up next to your mouth and then the applesauce up to your mouth. If you are sitting on the floor stacking your child’s favorite blocks with him, hold each block up to your face as you encourage your child to ask for more blocks.
At first it will feel awkward, but it will become second nature and this simple act can make a huge difference for encouraging a more tuned-in interaction.
What do you think? Do you have a hard time getting your child to look at you? Could you do this?