Skip to main content

5 fantastic ways to promote curiosity in your child

“Think left and think right, and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Dr. Seuss said it best. Curiosity is a noble trait. It’s one that needs to be cultivated and encouraged throughout your life, especially from an early age. Teaching children to be curious helps them be more observant humans, gives them the confidence to figure out things for themselves, and creates a love of learning.

Curiosity helps kids expand their vocabulary, be more in touch with their emotions, and can teach them not to take everything at face value but rather form their own opinion about a given subject. Parents and caregivers can encourage curiosity in their kids from a very early age, and it can be just as much fun to watch their minds expand right before your eyes as it is for the child themselves.

A child in a garden
Allan Mas/Pexels

Start with questions

When your child asks you a question, don’t answer right away. Parents should encourage kids to seek out a solution themselves. Depending on their age, point them to a source like the internet, library, encyclopedia, or YouTube to help them find an answer on their own.

Answer a question with a question. If your child asks you if you can build a house made of sticks, turn the question back around and ask whether they think you can. Not only will this encourage independent thought, you’ll be surprised at the funny and inventive answers you’ll receive.

Kids ask “why” a lot for a reason — they want answers. Why not turn that around on them during conversations, while reading books, or when you watch a TV program together. Ask them why they gave an answer, why the book ended a certain way, or why that character seemed happy or sad, and encourage them to think outside the box.

A child reading outside
Andy Kuzma/Pexels

Use play to encourage curiosity

Unstructured play is the best way to nurture your child’s sense of curiosity. It can feel like every moment needs to be planned out when your kids are little, but by giving them free time to play, you are giving them time to use their imagination. Try to give your child the chance to play on his or her own and with other kids of different ages. It can be hard not to intervene, especially if you hear arguing, but try to let them work it out.

While having a variety of toys and other objects like books, blocks, crayons and paper, puppets, and dress-up clothes is important, sometimes not having everything at their disposal can be of service to them. Sometimes, all kids need is a cardboard box, some rocks, or just themselves, and they can create a world all their own. As much as possible, travel with your child — it will open the world up to them in ways nothing else can.

Two kids playing in sandbox

Curiosity will come and go

Inquisitiveness ebbs and flows, depending on our age, life stage, and the company we keep. Parents can play an active role in cultivating a child’s ability to ask questions and seek answers, but doing that requires persistence. If it feels like you’re pushing your child or they don’t seem interested at the time to think more openly, give them room to not respond. Sometimes we mean well, but forcing an issue can actually cause the opposite effect we meant to impart.

The ideas above can help jump-start conversations and get children thinking for themselves. Especially in today’s world where every answer is at their fingertips (thanks to technology and the likes of Google), anything parents can do to encourage a love of learning and seeking out facts or answers for themselves rather than relying on someone to give it to them will be beneficial as they get older.

Of course, curiosity can (and should) also be fostered by teaching them how to listen. Hearing other people’s stories or understanding how they came to a certain conclusion can offer insight and perspective, especially if the person comes from a different background, geography, ethnicity, class, or race than their own. Learning to listen and observe others is an art. It’s a big key to keeping a person curious and open-minded for a lifetime.

Editors' Recommendations

Julie Scagell
I am a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, MN. My passions include my dogs, talking about my dogs, and taking pictures of…
Your favorite childhood movies will be your kid’s favorite, too
Want to rewatch your beloved childhood movies? Grab your kid and revisit these nostalgic films
A family watches TV on a couch

We all have a soft spot in our hearts for the movies we were raised on. We grew up on those films and they helped shape the adult version of ourselves more than we might want to admit. These are the childhood movies that you have to watch with your little human that will show them the value of family and friendship and that kindness is always the right choice.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Read more
The best chores for kindergartners: Teach responsibility in an age-appropriate way
Kindergarteners aren't too young for chores — give them responsibility with these tasks
Kindergarten boy watering plants in the garden

Are kindergarteners too young for chores? Absolutely not. If you haven't already started giving your 5-year-old simple chores around the house, now is the perfect time to start. Having chores for kids to do is more than just giving busy parents a hand.

Chores go a long way toward teaching children important life skills. Doing chores actually has a lot of benefits for kids. These household chores teach children responsibility and give them a sense of belonging. Helping with simple tasks around the house also works to improve a child's confidence and self-esteem. Getting kids used to completing those everyday tasks like making the bed and doing laundry will most certainly be prudent when they're ready to head off to college or get out on their own. So, what are the best chores for kindergarteners and young children?
Chores for kindergarteners
Kindergarten is a wonderfully fun age. At the ages of 4, 5, and 6, kids are curious about everything and love to spend time with their parents. Kindergarteners also want to do the things they see their parents doing, which is why it's the ideal time to introduce them to chores.

Read more
10 treats for your toddler’s Easter eggs that aren’t candy
Fill your child's Easter eggs with these alternatives to sweets
A boy and girl having fun during an Easter egg hunt

Before you know it, the Easter Bunny will be hopping down the bunny trail, much to the excitement of toddlers far and near. That means it's time to get those Easter baskets and plastic eggs ready because it’s egg hunt time. Whether the egg hunt is in the backyard, park, or at school, little kids love participating in the fun activity. Parents, however, could do without the sugar rush that comes with all those chocolaty treats.

The good news is that Easter egg fillers for toddlers don’t always have to be chocolate and candy. There are a lot of fun alternatives to those sweet treats that make great surprises for your kids. Here are 10 treats for your toddler's Easter eggs that aren’t candy.

Read more