Little Einsteins:The Curious Phase of Childhood

Oct 21 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I was sitting in a restaurant when a conversation between a mother and her son caught my attention. The boy who looked about eight years old had a curious mind.

He kept drizzling a series of questions, one after another, without pausing for breath, about each entity the waiter brought to their table; the ingredients on the menu, the names of the foods and why it was called a burger and a pizza.

Like any parent of a toddler, his mother was tired of the flooding questions. At some point, she lost her cool and said “I don’t know why things are the way they are, just accept it”.

Although I have to admit that I probably would have reacted the same way if I were in her place, I enjoyed their interactions from afar. It is often not the questions that irritate parents but rather the urgency and constant need to know the answers. This is especially true when parents try to relax or focus on something else.

The boy kept quiet but looked unhappy, uttering "Then why didn’t you ask?"

His question made me think.

Children are often told to respect and obey authority while growing up. But they are not given the respect they deserve. They are not always encouraged to ask questions and investigate the environment beyond textbooks.

If only everyone was as curious as children. They ask the most honest and genuine questions without sugarcoating facts.

It is still considered disrespectful to question elders. This has made our generation subservient as a nation, as people are reluctant to inquire or even attempt to find out why things are the way they are. When one asks the reason behind laws and taboo topics, rebel is the tag plastered over the forehead.

This is a mistake.

Curiosity is a natural human trait, but it is especially pronounced in children as they constantly seek new knowledge and explore the world around them. This inquisitive nature is essential for development, as it helps them to learn new things, develop problem-solving skills and become independent.

However, parents often dismiss the interaction to focus on work or household chores. Sometimes they may not have the energy for endless queries that are repetitive and challenging. Sometimes, they simply may not know the answer themselves, or they may be concerned about exposing their children to complex or culturally inappropriate topics.

As children explore the world around them, they are constantly bombarded with new experiences. Their curious minds continually seek explanations for the countless queries that arise.

Parents play a critical role in fostering or stifling this curiosity. When they engage with them, it shows them their thoughts and ideas are valued. It also teaches them the importance of critical thinking and inquiry. However, when parents dismiss or ignore their questions, it will discourage them.

Ridiculing their questions which are honest but seemingly silly makes them feel embarrassed and ashamed. When they are constantly told they are too young to understand specific topics, it makes them feel limited.

They will be reluctant to explore. Growing up with a suppressed mentality it will be difficult for them to innovate and develop new ideas.

Instead, engaging with children can help them become lifelong learners. As the inquisitive nature is a phase and they will be more selective about their questions as they age, parents should be patient all the while enjoying while it lasts.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 21,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1225]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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