Why do children love to explore?

Why do children love to touch, taste, and pull everything in sight so they can bring it closer to their senses? Try this…when you look at children, just imagine beautiful little aliens that just arrived on this planet. Not hard to imagine, huh?

featuring teacher and children from Honeydew Daycare

They’re unsure of their footing, they reach out to everything around them, they tug and bite everything within reach, or they come real close and stare at it (think: your face, your earrings). Because really - and stay with us here - they’re totally aliens. They were in the watery home of their mother for 8-9 months and then they came out swinging to this dry, heavy, noisy environment they’ve never been in. Sounds bad! Their bodies may be weak, but their feelings are BIG. And they sound like they’re crying but really, they’re just saying, “What is this place? Where am I? What is that? Can I taste it?

Then in a few months, they’re trying to get up and crawl around to see and touch more things. The exploration has commenced. And it doesn’t really stop until their teens when they know everything. So imagine, again, that you’re trying to find out all about this place where your loved ones are, where the food is, the sample sales, everything you need in life. After your child answers those questions for themselves, they want to get into your things - your wallet, your shoes, your bathroom cabinets. So don’t take it personally, they are just scientists exploring their surroundings so they can learn, experiment, and figure out where to get the cheapest artisan handmade candles. And that’s actually how we all started, surviving and having as much fun as we can have while doing so. We probably just forgot about it and got too serious about getting a job and money, so we can accumulate what we think will give us survival and fun. It’s kind of like a circle.

Children explore to experience their surroundings with their five senses:

  • Seeing

  • Hearing

  • Touching

  • Smelling and

  • Tasting

They cannot sit across from you and ask you what you’re eating and wearing. If they can, don’t panic, you’re probably just in a Disney animated film. They’re going to come over to you and grab your food and your hair. And it’s totally understandable. They don’t have many words, if any, yet. Really, it’s quite resourceful, kind of genius, that they are trying to learn with what they have because that is the true experience of anything until they develop communication skills. But their cognitive skills are constantly growing and their synapses are connecting faster than any computer we have ever invented. It’s actually the time in our development when we are growing faster than at any time in our lives.

I am explaining all this to you so that you can see behind the (sometimes) annoying way your child gets in everything - where they’re NOT supposed to! Like hello, that cashmere was marked down 80%! You buy these expensive super-cool toys and after an hour or so with it, they are going after your stuff. That’s what scientists do, go explore related objects or events connected to the original subject. So the next time you see them going after things, help them with questions:

  • What are you touching?

  • Is it soft, hard?

  • Smooth, Rough?

  • What does it smell like? Hmmm, it smells like flowers.

  • If they have words, “Tell me about what you just found.”

Then you can give a limit to it, like, “We have to stop playing with this in 2 minutes, OK? Then we can play with your stuff and you can show me what you do with them.” This way, the exploration, and fun continues!

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