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Insight Article

Eye Contact

by Linda Mawhinney &

Mary Scott McTeague

Eye contact is one of the earliest means of communication. lt begins when parent and

baby look at each other. Eye contact is used to request, greet, or direct attention. Often

children with language difficulties do not look at the speaker. One of our first goals is to

help your child develop eye contact.

Here are a few things you can do at home to develop eye contact with your baby:

According to Linda Mawhinney and Mary Scott McTeague,

  • “Sit face to face with your child. Attempt to place your child higher than you. Examples of possible positions: sit your child on your lap; sit in a chair and place your child in a high chair or booster seat; place your child on the couch or chair and sit on the floor in front of him/her.”
  • “To draw your child’s attention, hold objects near your face to help guide your child without verbalizing. Often words do not have meaning and for other children, a verbal cue could cause him/her to tune you out.”
  • “Tap your child’s nose and then your own nose. After the child looks, even for a brief second, reward him/her by signing/saying ‘Good looking!'”
  • “Put your child’s hand on your face to gain attention before giving him/her a direction to follow or a choice.”
  • “Eliminate or reduce auditory and visual distractions, like the television, radio, etc. This helps your child focus on you.”
  • “As your child increases eye contact with you, give him/her the verbal cue, ‘Look.’ When your child looks at you, respond.”
  • “Play ‘funny face’ games in the mirror. Your child can establish eye contact with you in the mirror.”

NPR also did a piece highlighting the link between babies’ eye contact and language development, which you can read or listen to by clicking here.

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