What Is Curiosity?
We might have heard a proverb ‘curiosity killed the cat’, but what exactly do we mean by curiosity? According to the Cambridge English Dictionary curiosity is defined as
A strong desire to know or learn something
Children are born with an innate drive to seek knowledge and experiences. They aren’t passive beings, from the moment they are born they seek connections, explore their environment and begin to communicate.”
After a baby is born immediately they can cry and suckle. It’s amazing. How did they know about all this? This is the start of their journey in learning and their development through curiosity.
Why Are Children So Curious?
We often see our toddlers doing things that are out of the ordinary. We have seen them crawl into kitchen cupboards as well as smearing themselves with peanut butter or a whole tub of petroleum jelly. Like I have said children are born with a wondrous mind and they want to make discoveries. It’s as if their lives depend on it.
Caroline Gartland, Director of SensoBaby, informed me that science suggests that it does.
“Studies of the brain have shown that when children exhibit strong feelings of interest and curiosity in something, the neural activity in certain areas of the brain is enhanced. This increase in activity supports the neural pathways that create memory. So the more curious and interested a child is, the more likely they will store knowledge that helps them make sense of the world. These are the foundations for learning and development.”
So toddlers are explorers and this enhances their learning abilities.
Dangers Of Curiosity In Children
As parents, if we do not understand the growth stages of our children we might end up being frustrated with what they do. It’s for us as parents and caregivers to safeguard the environment that we are raising our children in.
Dangerous objects must be kept safe at all times, just a little mistake can cost a child’s life. That second you leave a bottle of medicine in their reach they may drink the whole bottle. They do it quickly because all they want to see is what will happen or how it tastes.
I remember as a child growing up in the village, in an extended family, food was bought in 50kgs. I do not know what got into my mind but I mixed a whole lot of mealie meal with sugar. You can imagine how the whole family suffered from eating sugary pap.
How To Enhance And Help A Curious Child
As parents and caregivers, we have the responsibility to train children and make sure they are safe. We are the gateway to our children’s world. They discover what we present to them. We have to foster an environment that helps the child to explore their surroundings. This could be indoor or outdoor. We can buy or make them play with objects that enhance their curious mind.
For example, kids love enclosed spaces. If you cannot afford to make them a tree house or buy them a toy house simple ask for boxes from retail shops and build your child a house. Learn to take note of your child’s interest and work on providing simple solutions to their curiosity. You can buy blocks or Legos, artistic play dough or give them a bubble bath to experiment with foam.
You can make play dough from scratch. Have a look at our blog post below on how to this.
Experience With My 3 Year Old
I have a curious child like any other 3 year old. He likes asking questions and demanding to know why things happen the way they do. I’m patient with him most of the time but most importantly I allow him to participate in figuring out the answers. He likes to investigate and experiment and I see that as he grows the curiosity increases.
No longer does he wants to sit in my kitchen cabinet banging pots but would rather explore. He can hide behind a chair to dismantle his new toy to see what’s inside. As any mother would do, I feel angry with him as I just spent my Pula getting him the toys. Reminding yourself that this is how children learn can reframe your anger and soften your response. Children are driven to explore.
Interacting with my 3-year-old gave me the perspective that no matter what we do or say, children are born explorers and as they grow up it develops with them. If we nurture this curiosity, some will end up being pioneers or great inventors. Had Mark Zuckerberg ignored his curiosity we would not have Facebook.
Let us be patient with our bundles of joy, loosen up a little and let them explore in safe environments. In vernacular they say “ngwana ga a utlwi”. Meaning the child is naughty. We can turn this into something positive for our little investigators. The child is curious.
If you would like to learn more about how to nurture curiosity in your child, check out the following articles:
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