Why are children so fascinated with collecting rocks? How can parents respond without squashing their curiosity?

2022.01.19

Many children enjoy collecting rocks when they play outside. Sometimes, they even ask their parents to help them carry them home. In addition to rocks, some children also collect twigs and acorns.

At the beginning, parents are excited that their child is curious and enjoying nature, but after a while, many parents feel it is enough already. At this point, they often ask their child what he/she is going to do with the collection of rocks.

In this article, we will introduce the reason why many children are obsessed with bringing home rocks and how parents can stop them without destroying their curiosity.

子どもが石集めに夢中になるのはなぜ? 好奇心を潰さない理想的な対応とは 

Why are children so fascinated with collecting rocks?

Once children can walk on their own, they often begin to pick up things on the ground that they are curious about. Stones have a variety of colors, shapes, patterns and textures and even young children can enjoy picking them up and holding them. There is also a theory that hunting and bringing back “prey” is in our DNA, as boys are more likely to collect rocks than girls.

Some children continue to collect rocks until they are in the middle of elementary school but at this age children are more particular about the rocks they collect. Research shows that collecting, categorizing and comparing stones helps children develop intellectual curiosity.

What can parents do when their child keeps collecting rocks?

To avoid collecting too many rocks

Even if parents understand that collecting rocks is a sign of an expanding curiosity, many feel that it is not a good idea to have too many rocks in the house. Therefore, parents are often searching for a way to convince their child not to collect too many rocks without hurting their enthusiasm. One way to do this is to praise your child for finding a nice rock but at the same time explain to him/her that the rock belongs outside. If your child really wants to bring a rock home, you can convince him/her to choose one rock to wash and bring home and leave the others outside.

What do children learn from collecting rocks?

Collecting rocks helps children expand their curiosity. Children can learn many things by looking at the rocks they have collected and ask themselves the following questions: “what color is this stone?”, “what shape is it?”, “why does the shape change when they look from the top and the side?”, “what do they like about the stone?” and so on. Also, when parents ask children to carefully select what stones they really want, they will learn how to control their desire to want everything and learn how to cherish what they have.

Denying your child from pursuing their obsession, such as collecting rocks, may crush their curiosity. To avoid this, whenever possible, parents should try to connect their child’s curiosity to learning in a way that fits their child’s personality.

Having your child join a mommy & me class or preschool class is a great way to encourage his/her learning in an environment where teachers can encourage their curiosity and individual interests.

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