They used to say, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I don’t really understand that concept since I think curiosity is one of the most powerful forces we have within us.
What does it mean to be curious? For me, it is all about approaching something or someone without a preconceived judgment. When you are curious, you are open to another person, adventure or situation.
In life, we could use more of this. When it comes to parenting and to my coaching practice, curiosity is a powerful tool in our parenting toolbox. In today’s society, we spend so much time judging others’ behaviors and actions; we have such profound opinions, yet, when you bring curiosity to a situation, everything changes.
So how do we use this in our parenting practices? There are two distinctly different ways. The first way is to reflect back to your child. Perhaps your child gets a grade on a test that you know isn’t reflective of their abilities. Instead of asking “did you study at all for this test?” It is usually more effective to approach the conversation from a place of curiosity. For example, I am curious what you think about this particular test? The difference in these approaches and their outcomes are truly amazing.
Curiosity can be very empowering in raising our children. By being curious, you are offering your child room to think for themselves and develop solutions, while also refraining from putting them on the defensive side. This type of approach is fairly neutral and gives the child the ability to process their outcome. A child might respond to the question about the grade by saying “I am not too happy. I thought I did better.” To respond, you can use curiosity again, by asking “what do you think when wrong?” We are not solving the situation, telling them what to do next time, letting them know that we think they studied too little, or something of that nature; rather, we are gently probing to allow the child to come to their own realization of their actions. You see where this is going? Our judgment is not a part of this process. We are allowing our child.
The second distinct way a parent can utilize curiosity is in when a child asks a question or is trying to learn something. For example, a child might ask how why people fall in love or get married. Curiosity can also be a way for a parent to open the door to a conversation – I am curious what you think? What we allow with this question is the amazing thoughts of our child to emerge. As they are processing and sharing, we are learning more and more about them, as well as their interpretation of the world. When we share answers, facts or information all the time without tapping into the child’s views and thoughts, we hinder their ability to really think about things for themselves, from an open and clear space.
Curiosity is a powerful tool for parents. It certainly can help a parent remove their judgment and thoughts about something and just open the door to a conversation. I think it is one of the most underrated tools in parenting today.
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