When I hear the word curiosity, I can’t help but think of Curious George. But there are other meanings worth considering.
Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something. When you are curious you are interested in discovering something new or understanding something that’s puzzling. This attitude can come in handy when raising children because they surprise and perplex us on a regular basis.
“Why is he waking up at night all of a sudden? He’s always been a good sleeper.”
“How did she figure out what the password is on my computer? She’s only eight years old.”
If you’re stressed and rushed, your first reaction to some of your child’s behavior may be to yell. If you slow down and calm yourself, you may develop an attitude of curiosity and discover more about what makes your child tick.
Take the time to approach a new situation, disagreement, or challenge from a place of curiosity!
When you are able to notice and then manage your strong reactions of frustration, anger, fear, or disappointment, you have an opportunity to connect and engage with a child. This is a powerful step in resolving problems and preventing power struggles.
Here is an example.
Jada, a 6 year old who likes to take her time in the morning, frequently fusses when it’s time to walk to school. She wants to play one more game, or she searches for that special object, like a pencil or toy that she must have to take to school. Her mother Marla is usually in a rush, and gets easily frustrated when Jada isn’t ready on time. Marla is in the habit of yelling, and the more she yells the more Jada insists that she needs, “One more thing.”
When Marla tries the curiosity approach, she finds that it takes less time than she feared. As Jada stalls and says she can’t go to school without that special pencil Marla asks her to sit down with her for a minute. In a calm manner she asks her daughter a few questions, and then she listens. “Honey, do you have anything important going on at school today? When Jada says no, mom asks, “Tell me a little bit about your pencil. What makes it so special?” Jada says, without hesitation, “When I have to write my numbers I get scared that I’ll make the 3 and 5 backwards. With my special pencil I’m less worried cause the eraser is really good.”
Marla gives Jada a hug and reminds her that many children write numbers backwards, and that’s part of learning. She tells her daughter how she used to do the same thing. Marla makes a mental note to work with Jada on her numbers to help build her confidence. She also reminds her daughter that today is art day, something Jada loves.
Taking time to connect and find out more about what your child is feeling and thinking will often provide a clearer picture of your child’s experience. When you don’t have time for a morning sit down, remember to connect with curiosity later in the day.
To learn more about how to lower your intensity and calm yourself so you can respond instead of react, check out my book, Is That Me Yelling?