Why you should not ignore your children when they ask "why?"

This week has been filled with lots of questions for me, many of which have come from my preschooler. I'm noticing that the nature of her questions are changing, even when she is playing the game "20 Questions" with her Dad. A favorite was when she recently asked "Mama, who owns the city?" while we were driving around town. This prompted quite the discussion about mayors in our region!

Coincidentally, within a day of that car conversation I saw a great article link on Facebook to a post about "What's Going on Inside the Brain of a Curious Child?". Guess what? My curiosity was peaked and I started to do some reading.

Here's the Main Dish:

  • Our brain chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information.
  • In a study, when participants' curiosity was piqued, the parts of their brains that regulate pleasure and reward lit up. Curious minds also showed increased activity in the hippocampus, which is involved in the creation of memories.
  • When the circuit (the one that is linked to pleasure & rewards) is activated, our brains release a chemical called dopamine which gives us a high.
  • Dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between cells that are involved in learning. We tend to remember more when our curiosity is peaked!

What does this mean for you? 

  • Be encouraging when your child is asking questions, even if that means having to answer the "why" question over and over again!
  • Ask questions aloud yourself in front of your child to demonstrate what it means to be curious. For example, "I wonder why Jack is feeling that way today?"
  • When trying to teach your child something new, try and make a connection to something they are interested in.