If there's one characteristic children of all ages share, it's their intense sense of curiosity. Kids thrive on exploration, getting their hands dirty, and asking questions to help them learn about the world around them. But unfortunately, to the innocent bystander (or maybe to other friends and family) your child's curiosity might often be mistaken as bad manners. Although there is definitely a boundary between being rude and simply asking a harmless question, there are several signs your child is curious and not rude that are worth taking into consideration if it's an accusation you've heard more than once.
Though it can be hard to teach your child the difference between an appropriate and an inappropriate question, more often than not, your child isn't being intentionally rude or hurtful — they're simply looking for answers. Although it can be hard to direct your kid's comments about someone's weight or an invasive personal question away as harmless, because to the recipient it can feel far from harmless, you can generally be the judge of whether it's their curiosity speaking or not.
Whether you're dealing with an inquisitive toddler or a rambunctious seven year old who knows how to push your buttons, learning the difference between bad manners and genuine curiosity can be a huge savior to your sanity and view of your child.
1. Their Questions Are Genuine Questions
When they're young, kids generally haven't mastered the art of asking sarcastic questions. When your child asks a question, it's usually because they genuinely want to know the answer, not because they're trying to embarrass you or someone else. As they get old enough, you can teach them what is appropriate to ask in certain situations, but when your child is young, they're going to ask pretty much whatever pops into their mind.
2. They Love Learning New Things
According to a piece in Scholastic, each child will explore their curiosity in different ways. Some will be hands on learners, others will learn by example but either way, most kids enjoy learning about things their interested in. If they take a particular interest in something that might seem "off limits" when in public, try redirecting their attention elsewhere or telling them you can talk about it at home.
3. People Fascinate Them
My 2-year-old daughter is notorious for approaching other kids and parents to tell them about her life. She loves meeting people and isn't shy in the least. But, much to my introverted dismay, oftentimes her outgoing personality is mistaken as uncontrolled or rambunctious. When in actuality, she is just dying to learn about the people around her and tell them about how cool her newest toy is. (And don't worry, we've had the stranger-danger talk many a time).
4. They Feel Safe And Secure At Home And School
The same article from Scholastic stated the importance of safety and security for a child's imagination and curiosity to flourish. Where they feel safe, they'll ask questions. So if your child is asking questions and exploring their surroundings, regardless of how socially acceptable or not, chances are it's because they feel comfortable.
5. They Ask Questions That You Don't Always Know How To Answer
Kids have big imaginations and connect the dots in their mind much quicker than we give them credit for. They often ask unfiltered questions and expect the same kind of response from you (or the person they're asking). Simply explaining that you can talk about it later or that the other person isn't comfortable about their question might be enough to satisfy them for now.
6. They Make Messes
Curious kids might seem a tad bit destructive at times. They want to know why and how things work and so their behavior or questions might seem strange to an onlooker who isn't always aware of a child's curious mind.
7. People Sometimes Mistake Their Questions As Invasive
If your child questions people about their past, their weight, their money, or any other culturally "taboo" topics, don't shame them for it. Chances are they're merely curious and haven't yet grasped the concept of social norms. Instead of reeling in embarrassment, explain that they're merely a child and have a sense of curiosity fit for a fairy tale.