How Parents Can Guide Their Children to the “Island of Curiosity”

Cindy Kaplan, Certified Parent Coach, Psychotherapist, mother of three children, and Member of Gateways’ Board of Trustees.

Teaching Children to Develop Problem-Solving Skills

The summer brings a time that many of us can drop our shoulders and our agendas, slow down and enjoy a more moderate tempo. We still may be making lunches and getting our kids off to camp, but the pace feels different, and perhaps that’s because of the longer days filled with sun and warmer weather.

Summer can also be a time to let the teachable moments come from within our children rather than from us. While our children are on a break from school, we can actually see what lights up our kids and where they have interest.

We often hear our kids say, “I’m bored. There isn’t anything to do,” and our instinct is to provide suggestions. We often take this as an opportunity to remind our kids about the toys that they have and somewhat annoyingly provide them with long verbal lists of things that they could do. While this strategy can sometimes be helpful, our suggestions can rob this child of the opportunity to be bored for a bit and then to come up with an idea on their own. I recall a twelve-year-old boy complaining about being bored and saying “Okay. That’s okay to be bored”. Annoyed as he may have been at my response, he eventually found his way to the driveway to shoot some hoops.

These moments, as hard as they can be for us as parents, simply because we often want to quickly “fix” whatever it is, establish problem-solving skills within our kids as well as confidence, resiliency, and independence.

Consider using this summer as an opportunity to teach your children to travel to the Island of Curiosity. This island exists within us, and it is often a magical place, where we can move in an infinite number of directions; there are no walls.

When I step into curiosity, I am able to step away from my ego-centric concerns. The beauty of being curious is multi-layered. When we are curious, we can’t be angry because our brain does not allow us to be curious and angry at the same time. This is good news for us as parents. We think we know what our kids need; especially our tweens and teens because we remember that stage in life ourselves. The best part is that we actually don’t often know what our kids need and we have the ability to ask.

When we ask, our kids are given the opportunity to check in with themselves, figure out what they need, and let us know. That is the crown jewel of teachable moments.

So allow yourself to float on the island of curiosity with your kids this summer and watch the teachable moments happen rather than you having to make them occur.

 To contact Cindy, visit her website at


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