I have a 2.5 years old toddler girl who has recently started full day childcare and there were a couple of instances where she refused to open her eyes for hours - this usually happens when she throws tantrums or when we wake her up from bed when she wants to sleep more or sometimes when she cries. When she is not throwing tandrums, she can respond normally (even with her eyes closed..and we can feel there's movements in her eyes). Besides closing her eyes, she does not have any other unusual symptoms. Her diet is fine, health is ok, she can still respond normally with her eyes closed, her eyes look ok (no redness or any sort) and when she opens her eyes, she is back to normal again.

This drove us crazy over the past weeks and were worried too. Our PD says she does not think it's a medical issue but does not know the root cause either.

Pls advise!Thank you.

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    Could be just her way of trying to control what is going on that she doesn't like. If you are really concerned seek a second medical opinion. Jan 5, 2015 at 18:59
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    Or a way of closing her eyes against things she can't handle well, like new daycare. A variety of "if I can't see you, you can't see me".
    – Stephie
    Jan 5, 2015 at 23:38
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    My two year old son is doing this at preschool only. Sometimes it's for 5 minutes... sometimes for 15... but the other day he sat there with his eyes closed for 2 hours! He would respond to stimulus around him, smile or cry at people talking to him, even eat (with the teacher feeding him) with his eyes closed! His doctor seems to think it's just a quirky attention-seeking behavior because he just started preschool 3 months ago, so the experience is still very new to him. I was wondering how things worked out with your daughter and how you or the teachers helped her overcome this?
    – user20144
    Dec 11, 2015 at 8:06
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    Wouldn't feeding a child who is in the middle of the eyes closed behavior just be encouraging it to happen again through positive reinforcement? What about acting like the child is not there. If their eyes are closed they are invisible and get no attention. This may take the fun out of it.
    – user7678
    Dec 11, 2015 at 12:53
  • Definitely! The pediatrician also advise for us to pretty much just ignore it. I trust 100% it is a quirky little phase and it will pass quickly. I was just curious what worked for anyone else.
    – user20153
    Dec 11, 2015 at 23:00

2 Answers 2


It's hard to know the root cause of any behavior that's not medical, maybe because there is rarely one root cause. You have consulted your (pediatrician?) who said it wasn't medical. If you have concerns in that department, you can always get another opinion.

If it's not medical, it's behavioral. If it's behavioral, you have the fun job of figuring out why she's chosen this particular way of telling you that she doesn't like what is happening to her. (I presumed from your info that it only happens when she's cross for some reason.)

She is 2.5, and she has opinions, desires and feelings about what's happening to her, but no real power to control outcomes or events. It's possible that she feels words are not an effective form of communication for whatever reason. In that case, it's up to you as parents to teach her a good range of feeling words with which she can identify her feelings, and then, listen to what she's saying - not obey, but listen and make her feel heard. Respect that although you may not agree with her, she has a right to her feelings (she'll have them anyway, and it's best to learn how to identify and talk about them). Explain your decisions to her.

Maybe when she has a good emotional vocabulary, this way of expressing herself will stop. Until then, (what I would do if I were in your shoes) respect that. If she wants to close her eyes, it's her decision. She won't hurt anyone (she's not biting or hitting). I would just assure her safety (she's not allowed to walk around with her eyes closed.) I wouldn't let her decision to close her eyes control too much; if you have a trip planned, take the trip. I assume you have a stroller. On the other hand, show respect for all her wishes, and let her have some control over the things she can. She is trying to communicate something besides simple disagreement.

If this is more than just a phase, you'll need to ask for help from a child therapist.


By the way, my son's phase passed very quickly and I'll tell everyone what worked for us. We made him a little photo album filled with about 20 pictures of all his favorite people and a little rhyme on each page. He loved to look at it and had to keep his eyes open to do so, and to tell him classmates and teachers about who is in the book. It was gold! This way too, if he missed us he just looked at the book. Plus, we had the luxury of keeping him home with us during Christmas break for 2 weeks and the break seriously helped. He's a whole different kid now at preschool and doesn't close his eyes at all anymore. Just a quirky phase!

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