Daily Focus: Eye Contact & Questions
May is about Connection through verbal communication (asking questions) and non-verbal communication (eye contact).
Question of the Day:
Each day this month, I’ll post a “question of the day” here in the May Journal Prompts. Use it as a conversation starter. Throughout the day, ask people (your family, friends, strangers—whoever) the posted question and then really listen to their answer. Curiosity can be a healthy expression of love. Asking people about themselves shows that you want to know more about them and that you’re interested in them. Many people are flattered to be asked their opinion or preference. The topics are neutral and lighthearted (a nice break from the politically charged questions that flood our newsfeeds daily). This is a simple way we can work on our connections with others using verbal communication. It’s easy, do-able, and fun.
You’ll be asked to make more eye contact every day during May….really pausing to look people in the eye (especially our children) when talking with them. Thinking about a topic briefly each day is a simple way for moms to work on improving themselves, their communication, and connections.
Strong Women Make Strong Mothers. Strong Mothers Lead Strong Families. As we work on ourselves, our family reaps the benefits.
Choose your Goals
Pick one or more goals for the month of May. Write them down and take small steps—mommy steps—every day on your way to achieving them. Mommy steps = small steps toward big changes.
Deepen connections with family & friends: Make this month’s goal about connecting more with family and friends…in person or from a distance. Carve out time to focus on your relationships.
Make more eye contact: This is so, so simple…and yet more and more people are making less eye contact. It’s an important non-verbal cue that shows someone that you are focused and paying attention. It can clearly communicates respect, understanding, interest, and love. It also shows confidence.
When was the last time you made eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store or your server at a restaurant? Eye contact is so important on so many levels…from basic safety & awareness to true listening & deeper connection. Don’t overlook eye contact (pun intended).
Ask more questions: Each day this month there will be a “question of the day” you can use as a prompt to start more conversations.
Practice listening: You’ve asked more questions, now really listen to the answers people are giving. Writing down the answers you receive throughout the day in your journal will help with memory and act as a marker to see how well you’ve been listening. It’s not a pass or fail test, but more like a gauge to see how you’re focusing, remembering, and listening.
Have more positive interactions: Eye contact and asking questions will more than likely lead to more positive interactions with people you encounter throughout the day, which can lift your own mood. Need to shift a grumpy or negative mood or situation? Ask a question.
Embrace curiosity as an expression of love: I heard once that curiosity (when healthy) can be considered an expression of love. The easiest example of that is asking someone questions. Think about it…when someone asks you a question about yourself they are asking to know more about you. They’re curious about what you think, know, and believe.
May Week 1: You
This week focus on yourself in relation to connections. Do you make eye contact? How often? When was the last time you asked your partner or children a question that didn’t have to do with a daily task or your whirlwind schedule? Do you ask questions to get to know others? Think about what you bring to the table.
How do you feel about eye contact? How often do you look people in the eye? How about your kids? Cashiers? Servers? Doctors? Friends? Are you comfortable with looking people in the eye? Jot down your feelings about it.
Delve a little deeper…why do you or don’t you make eye contact? What causes you to avoid it? What influences this? Your personality? Regional or cultural influences? Self esteem? Worry? When was the last time you thought about eye contact? Is this your first time?
Affirmations are often inspiring and true. Give them a try…start off with this simple one. Because you are, please write or doodle: I am worthy of connection and acknowledgment.
Make more eye contact today
Start with your family. Was it easy? Hard? Did they notice? Did it make you automatically smile more when you caught someone’s eye? How was this small gesture received. Write about it.
Make eye contact with as many people as possible
Was it easy? Hard? Who did you choose? Do you think they appreciated it? If you were uneasy about it, can you pinpoint those emotions?
Eye contact & social media
Do you feel like the use of phones and computers has us looking down more than up? How about you? Do an honest assessment of your phone/electronics use as it compares to meaningful face-to-face interactions.
Engage with others
Eye contact can be easier with engagement. Add a smile or a question to your gaze. How did it go today? Was it easier to make eye contact? Still strange? No big deal?
Are you nervous about making more eye contact? Create smaller goals if it feels like too much – aim for one hour a day or a set number of people. Write down your goal.
When you say nothing at all
Eye contact acknowledges a shared moment–a connection–even in passing. It dissolves barriers. It can show you’re listening with your whole being. It can show you understand without saying a word. Do you ever share knowing glances with people? Your partner? Best friend? Your children? Write about moments when you have spoken with your eyes instead of your lips.
May Week 2: Your Children
Think about your children…do they make eye contact often? Do they avoid it? Observe your children this week and take notes about what you notice.
Write about when and how you interact with your children. Do you engage with them only when you want them to do something? Or mostly when you are meeting their needs? Do you pause for the simple joy of connecting because you love them?
Are you an interrupter?
Are you good at back and forth conversation? With adults? With children? Are you a talker or listener or both? Is there an area you want to work on during conversations? Speaking up more? Talking less? Listening more? Your confidence in conversations? Write down your conversation goals.
Children & Electronics
Remember last week when we did an analysis of ourselves in relation to social media and our phones? What about your children (if applicable)? Think about their electronic use vs. face-to-face interactions. Write about quality and frequency. If your kids are too young for social media’s influence, is this something you worry about or take steps to prevent?
There is a lot of power in intentionally pausing before we engage with our children. Do you pause when interacting with your children? Do you stop and see what they are doing or do you jump to conclusions? Do you tend to make assumptions or ask questions? Give the idea of pausing a few minutes of thought today and write about it.
Do an honest analysis: How often are you on your phone when you are also trying to interact with your child? Do you ever make requests or try to listen while staring at a screen instead of making eye contact? Is this a habit you’d like to shift?
Eye contact isn’t the only non-verbal cue that communicates connection. Have you hugged your children family today? Are you huggers? Why or why not? What other non-verbal techniques do you use to stay connected? Secret handshakes? High fives? Write them down.
One on one
Do you make time for one on one interactions with each of your children? With each member of your family? What could you do to connect more with each family member as an individual? Could eye contact alone do that?
May Week 3: Research
We’ve spent two weeks looking at ourselves and our families, but did you know that eye contact is so important that it is formally studied? There are literally different eye contact techniques. Spend this week researching them & other connection techniques.
Look back at your goals from the last few weeks (specifically days 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, & 10). Start your online search using your goals as a guide. There are so many online sources, using your own goals is a great way to narrow your search. There is no one-size-fits-all parenting philosophy, but there are many inspiring articles online. If you find a gem, share it with our group on Facebook!
I’ll be sharing a lot of articles by Janet Lansbury on our yayamamas Facebook page this month. If you aren’t familiar with her work, it’s incredible. It really speaks to me as a mom. I highly recommend you check her out—she makes positive parenting techniques accessible and easy to understand & implement. Some call her work “life changing” (I’m in that camp!)
Research, Day 1
Do an online search for how to connect more with your children. Janet Lansbury’s page is a great place to start. Write down any ideas that inspire you.
Practice watching your children without interfering or correcting. Watch what a few moments of intentional observing bring to your thoughts and feelings about them. Then write about it. What did you feel? Admiration? Warmth? Annoyance? An urge to correct? Write about what they were/are they engaged in, how they speak, how they approach you and others. Look at the when, where, and how…and write it down.
Do you find that making more eye contact creates a more cooperative household? Do your kids seem to be more willing to listen and follow directions when you make more eye contact?
Positive vs. Negative
In an AHA Parenting article I recently shared, the author suggests that for every negative interaction, we need five positive interactions to keep a relationship healthy. Think about your positive vs. negative interactions with your children? What would you say the ratio is? Are you happy with the numbers? Is there any you’d like to shift?
Do you limit screen time in your house…for yourself? What would happen if you limited it? Today is about conducting your own experiment to see how limiting yourself affects your mood, work load, interactions with your children, original thought, motivation, etc. Write about it & be thorough, because tomorrow we are going to shift that screen test to our children.
Screen Test, cont’d
What about your children? Try a screen test with them. Write about what happens when you lovingly limit screen time and invite them to participate in activities. Or try limiting screen time and not suggesting anything. Which goes well? Better? What did your mommy instincts tell you before, during, and after this “test?”
Recap & Goals
Sum up what you observed & read this week. Write down your thoughts about how it applies to you and your family. List changes/goals you’d like to see happen within yourself, your children, your family, workplace, casual interactions, etc.
May Week 4: Bring your family into the conversation
If you haven’t already, talk with your kids and/or partner about eye contact & connection. Share your observations from this month. If age appropriate, talk about whether you feel eye contact is an important family value or not. Ask them questions about it. Share insight from last week’s research.
Come up with your own questions of the day! This is an easy and fun way to bring your family in on your conversation. Write them all down (include everyone’s answers if they start to answer while making up questions. Writing down someone’s thoughts in front of them can be very powerful. It shows them their thoughts are worthy of notation).
Make it a game: Write your questions on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Pull them out at the dinner table for instant conversation & engagement.
Recap: Eye Contact
How have your feelings about eye contact changed since the beginning of the month? Is it coming easier? Still a struggle? Are your children making more eye contact? Write down your observations about your/their progress.
Bonus activity: “What color are their eyes?” You can turn eye contact into a sort of game with older children. If you’re at a restaurant, ask them what color the server’s eye were (after the server has walked away). At the grocery store, ask them what color eyes the cashier had after you’ve walked away. Ask them the color of their friends’ eyes, their grandparents, neighbors, etc.
Eye contact & empathy
Has making more eye contact made you more empathetic? In other words, do you feel like you’ve been better able to understand how others might be feeling by using more eye contact? Have you been able to pause and see others, understand their feelings, or even share those feelings? Write about how working on eye contact this month has changed how you understand the feelings of others.
Were you able to slow down a bit this month? Slowing down is a critical part of connection. It allows us to focus without a time crunch or wanting to move on to the next thing while we “listen.” What are your road blocks when it comes to slowing down? A busy schedule? Your own thoughts? Expectations? The habit of feeling on the go? Guilt? Write about them.
What were your favorite questions and answers from this month? Write them down. Did you take a moment to answer the question of the day when it popped up each day (even if just in your thoughts)? Why or why not?
Write your own observations about how eye contact, asking questions, and listening has influenced your connections with family, friends, and daily interactions.
Connect before Transitions
Many of our parenting frustrations happen during transitions—from the house to the car or car seat, from school to summer break, from nighttime activities to going to sleep. Have you tried making more eye contact during these times of transition? Knowing what you know now about the power of eye contact, do you think making more eye contact could make a difference during these times of transition? Why or why not?
Each month there will be a few Bonus Days at the end of the four weeks. We use at least one of those days to write meaningful thank yous. Take a moment to write in your journal about who and what you are grateful for, then transfer those thoughts over into a meaningful card, letter, text, or phone call to let that person know you appreciate them.
Think about how asking questions and making more eye contact has influenced your confidence level this month. Are you more confident and find it easier to engage with others? Do you walk with your head up more often? Do you look around more? Write your observations about your own confidence levels.
Today is the last day of our Connection focus. Tomorrow we begin working on Transitions. Schools are getting out for the summer, the season is changing, vacations are upon us. Our schedules are about to get switched up…and our children are going to feel it. Write about what transitions are on the horizon for your family next month or this summer.