• Quote of the Day
    "The greatest achievements were at first and for a time dreams. The oak sleeps in the acorn."
    James Allen, posted by desiderata


Dec 21, 2007
The Calming Power of Eye Contact
By Amanda MacMillan, Prevention
August 1, 2007

Next time you're trying to settle down a distraught friend or loved one, say this: "Look at me!" Eye contact will quickly help her regain composure, says Mardi Kidwell, PhD, a communications professor at the University of New Hampshire. "When a person is sobbing or yelling, she may not interact rationally," says Kidwell. Focusing on your gaze forces her to come back to reality; it's very grounding.

Kidwell's research examined how law-enforcement officials often successfully use eye contact to soothe distressed or hysterical suspects and emergency workers. "It's the first step to listening and obeying--whether they know it consciously or not," she says. The trick is to get into the person's line of sight, tell her to take a deep breath, and don't let her look away until she acknowledges your words.

I do this with my kids, particularly when they were younger and hurt themselves. I would hold their face gently and say over and over "look at me, look at mommy, take a deep breath and look at me". It did work, as they calmed down a lot faster.

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