How do you deal with your child’s curiosity?

A child listening to his Mother.

Can you imagine what it would feel like to have everything you presently know wiped out from your brain? Take a minute to think about this and you’d realise how much you know and how perplexing it will be to lose all that knowledge. Imagine what being in the world will feel like, everything suddenly becomes a wonder; your curiosity will be at its peak. You will really what to know and learn! And, that’s what curiosity in children is all about- they just really want to know and learn!

According to parenting enthusiast and founder 2nuture, (an online platform sharing insights on parenting) Bukola Afolabi, “Children have been “pushed” into this world they know absolutely nothing about. Everything is new and fascinating to them and everything they see holds the possibilities of unlocking new knowledge for them, so they explore- touching, fiddling and tasting pretty much everything, much to our chagrin. Our world as we know it now will not be what it is, if not for curiosity.

“Curiosity is at the centre of science, inventions and technology. Without curiosity, kids will not learn, gain knowledge and confidence, or be empowered to live life at its best. Curiosity is the natural urge that helps kids make sense of our world and discover their place in it.

However, creating a safe environment internally and externally for kids to explore is one of the major roles of parents when it comes to maximising curiosity in kids. Kids are curious about everything and can’t identify the harmful or dangerous things yet, so they reach out to everything and this can be stressful and scary for parents.

Afolabi noted that parents should, therefore, create a safe external environment by keeping harmful objects out of reach. This reduces the stress level of the child and the parents. “To foster a safe ‘internal’ environment, in terms of the psychological development of the child, parents should endeavour to be involved in and affirm kids’ discoveries. Tell them what things are and applaud them when they remember. When they ask questions, endeavour to answer as often as you can. Ask them questions, too, questions that could help them make better observations or think deeply.

“Kids will not learn all they need to learn in one encounter or just because we answered their question once. Repetition is key. We should be prepared for repetition and clarification, because sometimes they will be confused, sometimes they will forget, and sometimes they might misunderstand what we mean.

“And at other times, they might ask enlightening questions that give us a fresh perspective and force us to think about things in a different way. So, let’s give them room to ask questions. This allows for clarification and proper understanding. We might not always be in the mood to answer questions or it might not just be the right time; but, don’t shut them down completely, let them know you will answer their questions some other time.”

Afolabi added that kids generally move on when their curiosity has been satisfied about a particular thing, it doesn’t mean though that they might not have questions about that thing sometime later. Learning is an ongoing process that should never end for anyone, young or old.

In the early years, kids’ curiosity is usually internally motivated. Often, they don’t need external stimulation from us to be curious. As they grow older though, we have to be intentional about sustaining this curiosity by exposing them to new experiences and knowledge. Let’s provide them with books, new activities, travels, exposure to new information, etc. As parents, we should make sure they are learning something new. They should be exposed to the diversity in our world. Let’s guide them not to fit the world in a box. Let’s help them to gain a grand, larger view of the world.

The right perspective or mentality to have as a parent in terms of handling curiosity is that of a tour guide. Yes, as parents we are tour guides of sorts, the one who should point out the awesome and fascinating features of the world to these awesome newcomers- our kids. Curiosity is an innate urge given to enrich our lives and expand our minds, let’s do the best we can to ensure it performs these roles in the lives of our kids, and not otherwise.

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