One Family's Journey: Eye Contact

One of the big jobs of adoption is teaching or in our case re-teaching your child family skills. Our son was about 15 months when we adopted him and he refused to look us in the eyes regularly for a long time. This was really disconcerting. All day long people would fawn over our very adorable son and tell us how much we looked like a family all while he would avoid looking at us as much as possible.

There are lots of tricks that you can use to teach eye-contact use but of the easiest for us was the "food between the eyes" trick. We would hold pieces of bread between our eyes so he would have to look at us when he asked for food. Otherwise he would studiously stare at the ceiling for the whole time we fed him. The idea is that doing this helps your child associate your eyes, your face, and you as the person who is now caring for him and providing food. Food=love to people of all ages and it is very important to establish yourself as the food people. Other ways of practicing eye contact include hide and seek and peekaboo games, singing songs together and making goofy faces. We used all these tactics but for us and our active little guy the "tortilla chip" between the eyes trick worked best! If you have more tips for parents who are teaching eye contact leave them in the comments!

Disclaimer: I am not an adoption expert, social worker, therapist, doctor or even an experienced Mom. Everything I blog about is our personal experience and should not be considered professional advice.

Comments

Carolina D. said…
Our daughter is younger so she still uses a bottle, encouraging eye contact while feeding from a bottle seems easier but she was used to look everywhere else but the person who was feeding her, she is very curious by nature. What we did is that we feed her in her bedroom where there are not many things, people, animals to distract her and we hold her really close to our face. One thing I read is to hold your child in your left arm so you can look at the baby in the left eye which make a stronger connection to the brain, it was unnatural for my husband and myself because we are both left handed but it totally made a difference.
Lisa said…
I'm so happy you are covering these topics.

So many people focus on the adoption from their own perspective that the needs of the child are often lost in the telling. Your level of compassion and understanding about what your son was going through is so important to share.

Our son was a very young infant when we adopted him in Cali but he still had an adjustment period.

I appreciate your writing and and happy to hear about your experience again.
Carolina-I've heard that tip and I think it helps as well! And taking out distractions is really helpful too. I try to keep the room dark as well to make it more calming.

Lisa-Thanks for your kind words! We're defenitely not perfect parents but we're doing our best.
Ruth Ann Craven said…
Great post! Our first daughter was adopted at the age of 5 months, but our son is going to be almost a year old by the time we get him, so I will definitely keep these things in mind if it seems like he is not making good eye contact with us. Thank you!

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