Children in their natural state may be best described as curious. Curiosity is a natural quality of little ones. This is why their eyes twinkle with amazement at the site of moving cars or colourful objects, their tiny fingers poke and pick on anything they can get their hands on. They want to see for themselves if eggs really do break when tossed like a ball or observe what happens when you pour water over a full glass. Seeing the manifestations of natural curiosity, parents unfortunately stop the adventure right before it gets interesting. But of course, right? I mean nobody wants to have to clean up broken eggs or rid the dinner table of mild flooding. But sometimes these laborious tasks are worth the pain in the name of nurturing our children’s natural curiosity. While it is in our DNA, curiosity still requires care to come to the surface and stay there. The benefits are meaningful.
If you want your child to practice being attentive, give him something he is genuinely curious about. Such interest is the much-needed motivation that will fuel your child’s focus. A neuroscientist from Yale University Monica Rosenberg says paying attention – that much needed ability useful at any age, is quite a tricky business. "It appears [that] hundreds of different parts [of the brain] have to communicate and interact with each other when we pay attention." Curiosity is right on top of the list of things that enhance your child’s ability to perform the complex task of paying attention. When your child is curious about a problem, it is half solved.
In his nearly 50 years studying what motivates kids to do certain things, psychologist Edward Deci of the University of Rochester says one critical ingredient to motivate kids to do anything, including embarking on curiosity-enhancing activities, is the sense of autonomy – being able to choose what to do and how to do it.
Science is all about the search for answers. It is trying out again what had been previously tried and tested. It seeks to fill gaps in knowledge and expand understanding about the world in a way that shapes our practical and beneficial interactions with our surroundings. Curiousity makes us continue to wonder long after childhood. It is linked to joy on the job, effective social skills and a happy disposition.
Have you ever sat your kid down and asked: 'What would you do if you didn't have to do anything else?' You’d be amazed at what you will learn. More importantly, you will discover those points of interest that would trigger their curious minds and inspire their focus. Use them as motivations for your child to spare attention to things they need for the future.
Most people know the proverb “Curiosity killed the cat” and quickly dismiss wonderings and investigations as worthless. Truth is, there is a little-known rejoinder to that piece. This is how it reads in full: “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back!” :-)