What I am suggesting is not to allow your child to monopolize your attention every minute but rather, to be mindful of how the use of eye contact can help establish a connection of mutual respect with a child.
Respect for a child, you may be thinking? What I want more than anything is for my child to respect me, to do what I ask without argument, to listen to what I say. How can there be mutual respect when I need for my child to know without question that I am the boss?
This is not about respecting a hierarchy in the family based on maturity, responsibility, life experience and wisdom. It is the respect of every person’s fundamental need to be recognized, to be acknowledged. On the level of such a basic need, there is no hierarchy, everyone deserves it, plain and simple. The human connection that comes with eye contact is vital for the development of the “pre-frontal” part of the brain that handles intelligence, reasoning and impulse control. Meaningful eye contact is indispensable for building those important facets of our personality and way of thinking. Many of us spend a lot of money on educational toys and activities to give our kids the best chance for superior performance at school. It turns out that the most important thing we can do to foster optimal intelligence in our children is to provide adequate amounts of eye contact with each of those who depend on us for love and security.
Getting your child to recognize your authority as a parent is not about acting like the kind of boss you would never want to work for. It’s about learning to set appropriate boundaries in a firm but loving way. It is undeniably easier to solve problems with a child who can access the capacity to be reasoned with and that depends largely on the quality of connection you nurture.