Six-year-old Tommy has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As he buzzes from activity to activity, he can drive his classmates or babysitter nuts. His father, Joe, appreciates their dilemma: During a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, Joe turned around to see that Tommy had scrambled over a protective railing and was inching toward the edge.
Upon returning home, Tommy’s parents entered counseling to figure out how they can help Tommy channel his energy in ways that are appropriate and safe.
At the same time, Joe loves Tommy’s inquisitive nature. He worries that Tommy is receiving so much exasperation and disapproval from people around him that his natural curiosity will be crushed.
After Tommy destroys a remote control by disassembling it, the family agrees that Tommy will pay it back by helping his mother pull weeds over the weekend. At the suggestion of the therapist, Joe also makes a trip to a local thrift store where he buys an old TV set. When the remote is paid back, Joe presents the TV to Tommy with a set of screwdrivers and other tools. Tommy shouts for joy and throws his arms around Dad, and both of them, for the moment, are in heaven.
What is curiosity?
Curiosity is a hunger to explore and a delight in discovery. When we are curious, we approach the world with a child-like habit of poking and prodding and asking questions. We are attracted to new experiences. Rather than pursuing an agenda or a desired set of answers, we follow our questions where they lead.
Curiosity makes us interested in a broad range of information about the world around us, not only that with direct utility. We learn for the joy of learning.
Socially, curiosity lets us really listen to other people because we want to know who they are. We open ourselves to the morsels of knowledge and experience they can share with us. We relish having discoveries of our own to share.
Quotes to contemplate, discuss and share.
It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything.
–Lord Henry P. Brougham
Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.
– Albert Einstein
Bringing it home to your kids
- At every age, supply your kids with materials that can pique their curiosity. Thrift stores are a great source, as you can rotate toys, books, and recycled art supplies more readily.
- Cultivate a library habit!
- Even nonverbal children let us know what interests them – through eye movements, reaching and later crawling. Communicate with your spouse and childcare providers what you notice about your child’s interests (which will be constantly changing.)
- Minimize media time; the passive flow of information makes it harder for many children to get interested in other kinds of exploration and discovery.
- Consider making car-seat time reading time. Supply books as soon as your child can hold them and turn pages. Leave the music and video players at home or use them sparingly.
- Indulge your own curiosity – model for your child the habit of lifetime learning.