I deeply believe that our differences make this world a beautiful and colorful place. But, this is only true if we see other people through a lens of empathy. As parents, teachers, and/or grandparents, we know this, but how do we teach our kids to be empathetic and open-minded? Raising kind, empathetic children is a big undertaking!
Judging is a natural instinct, after all, and the sad truth is that children begin judging others based on physical appearances and differences as young as 3 years old. I believe that curiosity enables empathy.
Curiosity is defined simply as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” Psych Central sites several studies that show how life is simply better when you’re curious and noted four science-based reasons:
We all want our kids to learn efficiently, develop healthy relationships, discover purpose and happiness and embrace new viewpoints and opportunities, right? Being curious about others leads to better understanding of their lives, experiences and perspectives – even if they are different from our own. The more curious a child is, the more he/she learns and empathizes, which is why curiosity is so important. Let’s cultivate it!
The good news is that while judgment comes naturally, babies are also born with unbridled curiosity. Just consider how newborns begin to follow sounds and faces with their eyes or how toddlers grab and touch everything they can reach or how older kids ask questions endlessly. They want to figure out how the world works! As parents, it’s our job to foster, encourage and inspire this natural-born curiosity as they grow up. Here are 7 tips for cultivating curiosity:
Raising my firstborn son, Guion, who happens to have Down syndrome, opened my eyes to not only how quick we can be to judge others based on their differences, but also to the beauty that comes through curiosity, adventure and empathy. Guion inspired me to write the children’s book, Guion The Lion.
Guion The Lion is about an imaginative little lion who sees things differently from his friends.
Using colorful illustrations and charming animal characters, the story shows that new perspectives can open the door to unexpected fun. My vision is for this book to present a message of empathy, curiosity, and adventure before children begin making their own judgments and assumptions. Learn more about the book and join the adventure!