The Benefits of Being Curious

Doing Good Newsletter


Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's a great thing in children. Studies suggest that curious personalities are associated with humor, playfulness, life satisfaction, good relationships and open-mindedness. Not surprisingly, curiosity also encourages life-long learning. (Some studies even indicate that curiosity, along with hard work, might be as important as intelligence to academic performance.) Another reason to encourage curiosity is that it's deeply intertwined with kindness and empathy. Here are ways to nurture curiosity in your children while teaching them compassion at the same time.

-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director


Magnifiying Glass

Make a Difference.....

  • These days, when incivilities still fill the news, encourage your child to approach people from a place of curiosity. Let them hear you asking questions, without judgment, of those with varying worldviews. Ask your children what questions they want to ask. When your family has such interactions, listen deeply to the other party's responses. Interest in the lives of others develops empathy, broadens our perspectives and increases understanding.
  • Let your children know you don't know the answers to all the questions they pose; then explore the answers together. In addition, encourage lots of creativity, inquisitiveness and play, whether it's with building, art, science, music -- or even service to others.
  • If your child behaves inappropriately, use curiosity to make it a learning opportunity. First ask questions to help you both better understand the situation and the reason for the less-than-noble behavior. Then brainstorm ways to resolve the issue -- or make amends. Encourage your child to be just as curious about the anger-inducing behavior of others, and speculate together on the reasons someone might speak or act unkindly.
  • Lack of curiosity can lead to stereotyping and rigid thinking. Get your children in the habit of going beyond their first assumptions about a person or situation. Encourage them to dig deeper and imagine other possibilities, rather than locking onto their first reaction.
  • Share your own excitement and curiosity about the world's mysteries -- and challenges. Acknowledge complexity. Let your children see you employing curiosity to explore various possible responses to a problem. Let your kids know that different people have different opinions about issues, and be curious to hear family members express their own thoughts.
  • Volunteering together can be an opportunity for radical curiosity. For example, spending time in a care facility or sharing a meal with folks at a homeless shelter can expand your understanding of the experiences of people in different situations. Critical reflection before, during and after your experience helps nurture your child's curiosity -- and their empathy.


Talk About It.....

Conversations are one of the easiest (and most joyful) ways to encourage curiosity.

  • When reading together, express interest in the characters and their motivations by asking "why" and "what if" questions, such as "Why did the young girl decide to explore the cave?" or "What if the boy had decided to talk with his friend instead of ignoring him?"
  • Discuss current events by sharing various points of view on an issue, including those that differ from your own. Encourage respect for each family member's ideas.
  • Encourage your children to question the status quo, and have conversations that invite skepticism about advertisements, campaign promises and other media.
  • Explore through books and conversation any topic that sparks your child's interest, from what lives at the bottom of the ocean to why people get the hiccups or what it would be like to visit Mars.

Learn About It.....

For more information about helping your child navigate the digital world, consider these resources:

I Wonder by Annaka Harris. Preschool and up. This is a celebration of life's mysteries, with gorgeous illustrations and a simple story that will spark conversations about curiosity and awe.

Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder... About Everything!  by David A. White. Ages 8 and up. Your family will have fun struggling with the same thought-provoking questions that philosophers do, like "Can you think about nothing?"and "Can computers think?"


"Let go of certainty. The opposite isn't uncertainty. It's openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow."
- Tony Schwartz, American author