Nurturing Curiosity in Children increases the Meaningfulness of Life?

A startling “BOOM” rocked the neighborhood, and sent thick glass flying every direction. The two fifteen-year-olds scientists inside the exploded outbuilding-turned-laboratory struggled to reorient. Their stunned “what happened” gaze at each other was interrupted by a second boom. This explosion forced Dale to his knees and knocked off his glasses. He didn’t need his glasses, however, to see that the floor was on fire. He quickly put it out. I ran outside. Dale soon joined me, and noticed out loud that the explosion had ripped open my knee. Further inspection revealed it had also cut open the back of my hand, and removed the top of my pinky. A minute later, Dale’s mother was on the phone with my mine. “Come quickly, the kids have had an accident.”

Parents who nurture curiosity in children take a risk. The process of learning requires the input of error—and sometimes things go very badly. Like that day in December, 1968.

Is it Worth It?

Civilization has progressed to our current state through the ongoing conflict of curiosity (an inner push to know more) versus caution (the desire of humans for safety). Curiosity advances. Caution stabilizes and sometimes retreats. Both qualities are desirable, and your child has a unique and dynamic curiosity/caution ratio that will have a large impact on how she or he lives life.

Dale’s parents, and my own, were big on nurturing curiosity. I am ever grateful they allowed us the freedom to “blow up” the backyard. Looking back, I am aware that there could be no short-term gain from cosigning on a $500 loan for teenagers to purchase volatile laboratory equipment. But they were willing to risk to achieve “long term” gains—character traits that their sacrifice could nurture in inquiring minds.

Payoff

The tickle of curiosity has propelled mankind from the cave to the moon. The ever-widening perspective provided by curiosity has expanded our concern beyond the end of our nose into other lives and other universes.

Curiosity also expands the universe inside the person by spawning other strengths. Advancing in the direction of one’s imagination requires confidence and self-efficacy. The expansion of one’s knowledge base facilitates the development of perspective—or ability to see life in ways that make sense to themselves and others. Transcendence is added to the legacy in a way that multiplies the meaningfulness of life for that child and the people who will be influenced by the child.

A recent article on the website, Talent Development Resources summarized what curiosity can do for for us:

When we open ourselves up to the wonders of the universe, we see more wonders. Then we can see ourselves as wonders. (Alloro n.d.)

Curiosity, like parents, can “nurture” us (if we are lucky enough to live through it). One of many other strengths it can produce in us is “self-efficacy” –a sense of personal adequacy. Other strengths spawned by curiosity include the hunger for and acquisition of “knowledge”, “perspective” and “transcendence”.

Katrina

Author's Bio: 

Katrina Holgate Miller, PhD writes about the strengths and skills people use to face their mental health issues with empowerment (moxie) rather than victimization.

She has turned her 30+ years of clinical experience with thousands of clients into stories and tips about how her clients were able to recover from mental illness and addiction and return to the roles they enjoyed during times of wellness. She is author of the website www.moxiementalhealth.com. Her email is katrina@moxiementalhealth.com