If you want to connect with your kids more, the simplest thing you can do is to get down on their level and initiate eye contact. Being on the same eye level with your child helps him feel safer and more in control. It also tells him that you are giving him your full attention and are ready to engage with him. In fact, a recent study has found that the act of looking into your baby’s eyes is a powerful tool to communicate with her even without the use of words.
Studies have proven that communication between two adults becomes more effective and successful if their brainwaves are synchronized. Timealso says that this might be one way to explain why face-to-face conversations tend to be less likely to be misunderstood than conversations done via text or phone calls.
The researchers, who came from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, looked into whether this eye contact between adults and babies also cause their brainwaves to sync with each other, as this is believed to facilitate learning and communication.
The study was carried out in two parts. For the first experiment, the researchers showed 17 babies videos of adults singingnursery rhymes. Timereports that in the first video, the adults were looking directly at the babies; in the second video, they were turned away; and in the third video, their heads were turned away but their eyes were directed at the babies.
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While the babies were watching the videos, the researchers recorded their brainwave patterns via electroencephalography (EEG), which measures patterns of brain electrical activity using a cap worn by the participants. These patterns were compared with those of the singing adults, which had been recorded beforehand.
The researchers found that the adults’ and babies’ patterns synchronized most strongly when the adults’ heads were turned away but their eyes were looking directly at the baby. The news release reports that, for the researchers, this finding might be because that type of gaze appeared very deliberate and signaled to the child that the adult intentionally wanted to communicate with her.
For the second experiment, the videos were replaced by an actual adult who sang nursery rhymes to the babies. While singing, the adult either looked straight at the infants or averted her eyes. Her brainwave patterns were recorded in real-time for the researchers to see whether these were affected by the infants’ brain patterns, and vice versa.
The researchers found that the adult and the babies’ brainwave patterns were synchronized most strongly when they made eye contact. They also saw that babies made more sounds which indicated their intention to communicate when eye contact was established between them and the adult. Because of this, researchers stated that “brainwave synchronization is about more than just looking at a face or seeing something interesting, but about a shared intention to communicate,” writesTime.
“When the adult and infant are looking at each other, they are signaling their availability and intention to communicate with each other,” Dr. Victoria Leong, lead author of the study, says in the news release. “We found that both adult and infant brains respond to a gaze signal by becoming more in sync with their partner.
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“This mechanism could prepare parents and babies to communicate, by synchronizing when to speak and when to listen, which would also make learning more effective.”
This study only proves something parents already know: That the simple, quiet moments you share with your baby can also be the most powerful. By cuddling her and looking into her eyes, you form a bond that will bind you closer and that will only strengthen your relationship in the future. So make sure to take the time to quiet down and gaze at your baby. She’s going to benefit from it as much as you will!