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13 Ways To Encourage Curiosity In Children That Most Parents Ignore

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13 Ways To Encourage Curiosity In Children That Most Parents Ignore

Do you still think that curiosity killed the cat? After reading this article, you may be rephrasing this idiom to ‘curiosity actually saved the cat’!

Curiosity is what drives us to learn new things, which is why curiosity is essential in the education process. As adults, there are ways to stimulate us to stay curious, but it is critical to encourage curiosity from a very early age too.

According to research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, curiosity is a big part of academic performance. “If you’re intellectually curious, you’ll go home, you’ll read the books. If you’re perceptually curious, you might go traveling to foreign countries and try different foods” and both of these, explained Sophie von Stumm, co-author of the paper, could help you do better in school.

Many kids are naturally curious and are always actively looking to explore and discover new things. However, I’m sure you know more than one kid who hasn’t developed this instinct to the same degree and it becomes their parents and educators’ role to identify this issue and help them cultivate their curiosity. These are 13 exciting ways to awaken kids’ curiosity that a number of parents may ignore:

1. Change their routine

It is important for kids to have a daily routine but occasional small changes in their daily habits can stimulate their brain to think in different ways, which will provoke curiosity. It can be something as simple as changing the bar of soap they normally use, for foam soap and let them discover the new texture, play with it and determine which they prefer.

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2. Surprise them

Positive surprises can enhance a child’s curiosity. You could leave a good morning note under their pillow, organize a treasure hunt for a snack, or invite someone they like for lunch and don’t tell them until the loved person arrives.

3. ‘Kidnap’ your child from school

If you can take a day off work and ‘kidnap’ your child from school, they will remember it his entire life. You can spend some enjoyable time together: take them to the local bookstore and eat their favorite ice cream. Your child will have such a lovely time that they’ll want to do it again and again. You will need to make clear that it is an exceptional day. Just be sure to know they aren’t missing out on anything that day at school!

4. Bake a cake together

Kids love cake. But not all of them know how to make a cake. Experiencing the process of making a cake – from the ingredients to the final result – can be quite amazing for a child. And, doing it themselves, will awaken all their senses: hearing how to do it, seeing the transformation and colors, touching unusual textures, smelling the cake while it is baking and finally tasting it!

5. Open-ended stories

Reading a tale before bedtime is a good habit to get kids to sleep. However, always reading the same stories can get monotonous. To make it more fun, you can tell them stories with open ends so they can use their imagination to finish the story. Other ways to help them develop their creativity with tales is by asking them to come up with a new title, encourage them to start the story or continue with it. You can also find different ends for the same stories to grab their attention and keep them interested to see what happens this time.

6. Be prepared to answer their questions

Kids are continuously asking questions and sometimes they can be quite tough to answer. To be able to give them a constructive response it is necessary to understand why are they asking that question. For instance, when they ask you ‘why do you have to go to work?’ they don’t want to hear a list of reasons. They have a desire to spend more time with you. Understanding what they really mean will help you clarify their doubts.

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7. Encourage kids to ask (even) more

Curiosity can lead to more curiosity. When your child asks you something like ‘why does it rain?’, you can explain to them the cycle of rain and at the end of your rationalization, you may mention the forms of water without explaining it in detail. If they are interested, it may call their curiosity to ask you more about that subject. This is because if we know nothing about a subject, we cannot be curious about it but as soon as we know a little bit about something, our curiosity is picked up. So encourage more questions!

8. Be the one who asks the questions

By asking questions to your kids, you will pick their brain and make them think about different possible solutions to a problem or matter. Remember always to ask them to give you a reason. Be prepared to hear all sorts of fascinating answers. Some questions ideas are:

“Do you think you are a good friend?”

“Where is your favorite place in the world?”

“If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would you invent?”

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“If you had super powers, what would they be?”

“If you had your own country, what would it be called?”

9. Take your kids to an ethnic restaurant

Discovering new cultures is a great way to nurture curiosity. And local food is an excellent way to find out more about a new culture, its flavors, manners, and tradition. Take your kids for a lovely meal in an authentic Japanese, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese or Spanish restaurant, whatever you think they will enjoy more.

10. Travel and visit new places

It is highly recommended to take your kids to a foreign country to experience new cultures, see diverse places and meet new people. Do this as frequently as you can. One of the main reasons why we travel is to satisfy our curiosity and traveling makes us more curious. So getting your kids into this stimulating circle at an early age, will help them get pleasure from visiting new places during their whole live.

11. Encourage your children to study music

You probably already think that it would be good for your kid to learn how to play an instrument, but you may not have thought about the actual reasons behind it.

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Do you know how music affects your brain? We all use either more of our right side or left side of the brain, but people who study music actually tend to use both sides of their brain. This makes them better at lateral thinking, which means being able to solve problems through a creative approach. Having a creative mind will make your child more curious about the world around them.

12. Observe their interests

We all have different interests, and there is proof that we are only predisposed to learn new things when we are interested in them. As a parent, you may observe what your child likes and dislikes, so focus on encouraging his curiosity for those areas of knowledge he prefers.

13. Let your kid be a kid

As a parent, it can sometimes be tough to let your kids do what they want. They can often want to do most inconvenient things. But as long as their latest idea isn’t dangerous, it is better to let them explore the world their own way. At a certain age, toddlers develop the desire to do things by themselves, and it is recommended to let them try. Saying things like “that’s not how you should do it” can negatively affect their curiosity. You may better let them make mistakes and learn from them.

Do you have your own strategies to cultivate curiosity in children? We would love to hear your suggestions.

Featured photo credit: Flickr: Raul Pop via flickr.com

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Maria Onzain

Content Marketing Freelancer

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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