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Having seen so many questions on this site dealing with the kids not making an eye contact, I was wondering if there are times when we should ask the kid not to make an eye contact?

I sense this is a dumb question but still I'll go on.

I remember my childhood and adulthood when my father and mother used to hit me as hard as they can, and I also remember myself staring in their eyes back! That used to be my way of telling them "Huh! If you think you are physically strong enough to hurt me so am I strong enough to "deal with you"! Go on now, why have you stopped!"

Seeing my stare my father used to yell at me saying "Keep your eyes down or I'll take them out"! It usually didn't deter me ever.

I remember in schools too we were always expected by our teachers to keep our eyes down when we were being scolded! Making an eye contact was always taken as a challenge by the elders.

I see on this site parents always complain that their child doesn't look at them while being scolded. Is this just a cultural difference, or there are times when we should expect the child not to make an eye contact?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

To be honest, I think this one is house-by-house cultural, depending on whether the behaviour desired is understanding of right and wrong, or obeying authority figures.

Spanking is traditionally a clear indicator of an Authoritarian household or organisation, where the key to discipline is obedience; understanding of the issues involved are, at most, a bonus. Eye contact is an indicator of an Authoritative household, where the child understanding why what they did was wrong is the key to discipline. See the link below for a discussion of the efficacy of the former, but the tl;dr version is that physical punishment is hard to do right, and using it as a first response is one of the ways to do it wrong.

As you said, in your case, eye contact was a defiant gesture, and it probably could be nothing else, as there was no attempt to explain (eye contact as "I will not bow my head and obey you just because you're stronger than me"). If a child is looking away when you're trying to explain however, that's another example of defiance (avoiding eye contact as "I will not engage in this discussion with you because I doubt it's going to end well for me").

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a situation where it would be better for the child not to understand why it's bad to (for example) run out into the road, sneak around with a bad crowd, or engage in any one of the millions of variations of bad behaviour. And without eye contact, it's less likely that they're taking anything in, and it's a lot harder to read if you're making progress.

So yes, even if you're using physical punishment, I would immediately make eye contact afterwards, and explain why you felt the need to escalate to that point.

Of course, if you don't have any good answers to why what they did made you angry, then it's going to be blindingly obvious when they look at you that that's the case. But in that case, I'd recommend sending them to their room till you can articulate why you're angry.



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