Q: My 5-year-old never looks adults in the eyes when he talks to them. What can I do?
A: For some children, especially those on the shy side, learning to look adults in the eye can be hard. But maintaining eye contact is a valuable communication skill as well as a gesture of respect. Some people regard looking away during a conversation to be offensive, and as kids get older, shyness stops being a valid excuse for rude behavior.
Tell your son that you expect him to always look into the eyes of the person he’s talking to, whether he’s just saying hi or having a lengthy conversation. Explain that eye contact shows that he’s paying attention and is interested in the other person. You might also encourage him to notice whether a person has blue, brown, or green eyes. If he still isn’t maintaining eye contact after your talk, remind him privately, and praise him when he does remember.