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Posted on August 22, 2022 at 2:31 PM by Kari Bray
This is Part 17 in a multi-week series of blogs focused on the ABC’s for Healthy Kids. Learn more at www.snohd.org/healthykids.
Curiosity helps pave the way for problem-solving, creativity, and resilience. Think through how you will handle difficult questions without discouraging children or shutting down the conversation. Help children fill their toolbox with ways to find answers.
Children are full of wonder. Any mystery they see, they want to solve. They are continually putting the pieces of their world together, trying to understand how things work and how they can be part of it.
They ask a lot of questions. For young children in particular, parents or primary caregivers are often the first stop for answers. This desire for knowledge is healthy for mental and emotional development.
Curiosity is the root of creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. It’s not just your child who may benefit from asking questions, but the whole community as your child grows, learns, and contributes with their knowledge and skills.
The ability to wonder and learn also helps build resilience. An open mind and willingness to ask and answer questions can help people through major life challenges.
Adults can do a lot to nurture curiosity in children. Share in their excitement when they show interest in something. If their exploration starts getting out of hand, redirect their energy rather than stopping it. Maybe they shouldn’t be “experimenting” with water, soap, and markers in the living room, but is it something they can explore outside or in the bath where the mess is more manageable?
Find books or videos on topics they want to learn about. Have conversations. Ask them questions, too. Listen, answer to the best of your ability, and gently correct misconceptions as they fill up on new information.
Some questions are easier than others. “What’s that?” “Where are we going?”
Some are trickier but can be answered with a little bit of searching and reading. “How far away is the moon?” “Which dinosaur was the biggest?”
And some questions are deeply challenging, either because the answer is complicated, there’s a lot of emotion involved, or your child is too young for all the details. These can be about societal issues or things that happen in their personal life.
When it comes to tough questions, the most important thing will be your relationship with your child. Trust, understanding, and patience go a long way. Here are some tips:
Help children learn how to get answers to their questions.
It often feels like we have the world at our fingertips with the internet. Older children will learn quickly that they can find answers with a search – but do they know how to find accurate answers?
Model good behavior. When you look up answers, explain where you found them and why you trust the information. Teach them to check their sources and ask, “How do they know that? Where did that come from?”
Talk about how to get information offline. Encourage children and teens to check out books from their school or local library if they want to dive into a topic. Remind them that there are experts who can help, too. Want to improve your performance in a sport? Talk with your coach or trainer. Worried about something health-related? Ask a doctor.
They also should appreciate the knowledge that surrounds them in their personal network. Are there questions they should be asking friends and family?
Finally, urge them to take advantage of learning opportunities. If they have a chance to talk with someone with special knowledge, take an interesting class, or participate in hands-on learning, they should do it. They may end up finding answers to questions they didn’t even know they had.
Take some time now to check off the “Q” in the ABC’s for healthy kids. What questions are your kids asking, and how can you help them learn?
Remember that, while some questions can be challenging, it is healthy for children to keep asking and seeking new information.