The Eyes Have It
I've been watching Rebecca Ferguson's journey through X Factor with interest. Remember her first audition?
Beautiful girl; wonderful voice - and yet as she admitted herself, she's lost confidence. As Simon said "you've got to start looking people back in the eye again" - possibly one of the only sensible things he's ever said :)
Fast forward to the first live show and you'll see a real improvement:
Sure, confidence is still obviously an issue for her, but it's a marked difference from her audition - her eyes are open, she's making eye contact - and I really think her performance is significantly better for it.
At Perform, building confidence (one of what we call the Four Cs) is something that's at the heart of everything we do. It's no exaggeration to say that, if you fix that, invariably everything else follows. But, of course, you can't just tell a child to be more confident. Confidence is basically a muscle - and the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. And just like building muscles, building confidence is a slow steady (and sometimes frustrating) process. That's why we've developed special games to keep that process fun and stimulating.
If your little one is a bit like shy like Rebecca, why not try these games at home?
The Hello Game
The aim of this game is to get children to understand the importance of eye contact when communicating with others. In my experience, shy children in particular find it difficult to say hello and introduce themselves to other children. Often when they do pluck up the courage, they fail to gain eye contact with the other children, and as a result the other children may not notice them. This has a knock on effect as an already shy child feels ignored and may give up trying to engage with others.
The Hello Game is all about overcoming that. Ideally, you'll want a couple of people to play - but you can of course just play it one on one. Explain the importance of eye contact for communication - and explain the rules of the game. Your child must greet you - saying something like "Hello, how are you?"
They must do this in a clear voice and, most importantly, make sure that they get eye contact and keep it the whole time.
If they look away or look down halfway through their greeting, rather than saying hello back - make a big thing of looking all around you and saying something like - "Did someone say something? Is there someone there?" The child must then try again - but this time keeping eye contact the whole time.
Try and make it fun and silly rather being too serious about the whole thing. If a child in class is struggling, I'll often make a big thing of asking another of the children if it was them that said something. When they say no, I'll pick up an inanimate object like a cushion and ask it if it said something. Children love it when you get a bit silly and they tend to be more confident with their greeting the next time around.
You can then progress this to a conversation, but again, pretend not to hear if your child loses eye contact with you.
Catch My Eye
An extension of the above game is Catch My Eye. This can work as a fun party game too. Ask the players to form a circle and make sure that they are looking at you the whole time. When you catch their eye - wink - they must then lie down. This game is a fun way of encouraging children not to be afraid of looking people in the eye.
You can also develop this game and play 'wink murder'. If you've players that can't wink, you can always play blink murder instead! Here, the players form a circle and close their eyes. Walk around the circle a couple of times and tap just one player on the shoulder. They are the murderer; but obviously only they know it as everyone else has their eyes closed.
Once you've picked your murder tell all the children to open their eyes and the game begins. The murderer must then gain eye contact with one other player and wink (or blink) deliberately at them. This player must then lie down. The rest of the players must then try to figure out who the murderer was. Again this is a great way of making eye contact fun rather than scary.
Have you got some good eye contact or other confidence building games? Do let me know via the comments!