Teaching Eye Contact with Face Painting

face paint, store bought or homemade. (We’ll show you how.)

One creative way to increase your child’s eye contact is by painting each other’s faces. Imagine the smile on your child’s face when it’s colorfully painted into their favorite character or animal. While you are painting your child’s face, you will naturally be giving each other eye contact. You can offer to paint fancy eye lashes coming out from the corner of your child’s eyes or make a circle of little stars around each eye. This allows for even more opportunity for your child to comfortably look at your face and eyes.

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If you’re extra brave, give your child a chance to paint your face as well. This will create twice the opportunity for your child to practice eye contact and will also be twice as fun! For younger children, you can sit facing each other and play Pat-a-cake type clapping games or Peek-a-boo while making sure to hold your hands in front of your face to increase your child’s naturally occurring eye contact. Some children may not enjoy the feeling of paint on their face and hands and you may want to opt for playing with toy glasses, noses, masks or just making silly faces at each other. Your child will be experiencing silliness and laughter while practicing this crucial skill.

Why This Activity Works
Eye contact is a foundational social skill for all children. It is essential because eye contact is necessary for success with other social skills, learning activities, and for a child to safely interact in the world around them.  Looking at a person’s face gives us many important social clues and is important to communication because it allows us to read facial expressions and lip patterns. These facial clues are often extra important for children who have difficulty learning and using language. Fun games like face painting can be used to help children with ASD feel more comfortable using eye contact.


I recommend using washable paint that can be purchased at any local craft store. DIY – You and your child can easily make face paint together at home by mixing corn starch, face lotion, natural food coloring, and a dab of vegetable oil. Creating the paint yourself allows for even more enjoyable social interaction between you and your child.

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