Do you remember being at school and hearing your teacher say something like:
“Can you pay attention and stop looking at the ceiling!”
(When a pupil is looking up) “You won’t find the answers up there!”
“I know he’s not listening as there is absolutely no eye contact!”
The truth is these statements represent the total opposite of what maybe going on for the pupil.
It’s often much easier and in some cases vital to move their eyes away from the blackboard/teacher/computer screen in order to be able to think and concentrate properly.
In NLP we have long known about the correlation between where the eyes move to and the areas of the brain that are being accessed.
If you watch someone trying to remember something, often you will notice how their eyes move around the top, seem to defocus or the eyes may go around in a circle. Eyes moving around in a circle tell us that the person is looking for the information in all possible places – was there a sound that will can be recalled, a picture in their mind, a feeling or something they say to themselves to remember?
Eyes that defocus maybe tuning into one of these modes too, seeking the information via an image, sound, feeling or self talk. The positioning of the eyes will correlate with how the information is being retrieved.
Eyes moving around the top always relates to the recollection of visual memories. Most people are visual and so we tend to see this behaviour more often that any of the others.
I know for example that as I am writing this article, the very moment my mind goes blank and I’m struggling to put into words what I want to articulate, that it’s also time to scroll the page up. When the words begin to reach the bottom of the screen, as I type what I am writing, my eyes are forced lower down. This puts my brain into accessing my “feelings” when what I actually want to do is to have a very clear idea about what I’m going to write next and have that displaying on my screen.
When I scroll the page up, my eyes are moved up as I’m typing and thinking gets easier. (In addition, I’ve just had a great idea to cover up all the letters on my keyboard so I stop looking down to see where they are as I’m typing. The truth is I’ve typed in the dark and hit the right keys but I think it’s a confidence thing. It’s easier to look down at the keys and check where the letter I need is situated that chance it and hit the wrong key. But my spelling would be far better if I was more focused on the screen and stopped looking down at the keys plus I’d also keep my eyes up and in thinking mode.)
Now if you think about it, where is the work your child needs to focus on when you have them reading or writing? Are the books propped up in front of them or on a table down and underneath them?
These are really simple techniques that you can begin to implement along with the knowledge that:
“Everything is looking up” Yes everything you need to know and remember can be found by looking up!
“The answers are up there somewhere” Where else would they be?!
For more information about how to use simple techniques for thinking and learning in children, to find out more about our style of child therapy, book onto our next course with Olive Hickmott who works with the NLP4Kids team and is a specialist in helping people with learning differences.
By Gemma Bailey