Eye talk

Strong eye contact is a basic survival skill for all human and other beings. Have you seen a cat stare a dog away? Eye contact allows you to instantaneously assess everyone you meet, to see if they are nice or not nice. It connects you to friendly beings and protects you from nasty ones. In Western society it involves looking the other person straight in the eye: eyeball to eyeball, or 'eye talk'. If you find eye contact difficult, it advertises your vulnerability.

Once you establish proper eye contact, you automatically stand straighter, breathe more oxygen and become less anxious. Your voice has more room to resonate in your chest, so you sound louder. You look more confident. If eye contact is unacceptable in your culture, then find out what else you can do to check out who is friendly and who is not, and how to feel safe e.g. check hand movements - are they relaxed (nice) or tense (nasty)? You need to practise until you can do this naturally.

SOME DON'TS:

• Don't jiggle your eyes like a tea bag, unless you use them like a searchlight to stare at mean kids. Many targets move their eyes around a lot instead of focusing on the bully - eye to eye. This demonstrates vulnerability.

• Don't allow glasses to disguise your message. Show your power in other ways e.g. stand very tall, use strong arm movements, speak louder, emphasise certain words.

Parents and kids activity

finger exercise for jigglers

I use this exercise often with kids - they love it.

Every time your child shares something significant-about her day,an outing, friends - get her to face you and check her eye contact. If her eyes are jiggling like a tea bag, tell her that you will follow her eyes with your finger while she is talking. (You can even draw a face on your finger.) Once she begins speaking, follow her eyes with your finger. Most children find this distracting but amusing. It's a great way to learn about the necessity for eye contact. Practise this regularly until she does it. Instruct others to request eye contact, e.g.

Every time your child shares something significant-about her day,an outing, friends - get her to face you and check her eye contact. If her eyes are jiggling like a tea bag, tell her that you will follow her eyes with your finger while she is talking. (You can even draw a face on your finger.) Once she begins speaking, follow her eyes with your finger. Most children find this distracting but amusing. It's a great way to learn about the necessity for eye contact. Practise this regularly until she does it. Instruct others to request eye contact, e.g.

family, teachers, neighbours. If your child forgets, just hold up your finger and follow her eyes around. She will remember and laugh!

SOME 'EYE-DEAS'

• Focus on a point between the bully's eyes. Pretend that your eyes are lasers. Then emit a beam which drills right through the bully.

• Create a variety of stares, for example, a curious stare, a blank stare, an aggressive one, and absolute amazement.

• Find your warning or 'watch out' look - in other words, 'You mess with me and I'll take action'. (I am sure you have one at home.)

• You may prefer to look spaced out, bored or tired.

• You could focus your eyes on something else, like blowing bubblegum, taking notes or filing your nails.

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