Shared Discovery

What is most pleasurable about discovery and mastery is sharing it with someone else. ("Teacher, come look! Tadpoles!") We are social creatures. The most positive reinforcement—the greatest reward and the greatest pleasure—comes from the adoring and admiring gaze, comments and support from someone we love and respect. The teacher smiles, claps, and comments, "You are great. Look at all these tadpoles! You are our science expert!" This rewarding approval causes a surge of pleasure and pride that can sustain the child through new challenges and frustrations. Approval can generalize and help build confidence and self-esteem. So later in the day, when this boy is struggling with the introduction of simple math concepts, rather than eroding his esteem by thinking, "I'm stupid, I don't understand," he can think, "I don't get this, but I'm the one who knows about tadpoles."

Constrained Curiosity

For too many children, curiosity fades. Curiosity dimmed is a future denied. Our potential—emotional, social, and cognitive—is expressed through the quantity and quality of our experiences. And the less-curious child will make fewer new friends, join fewer social groups, read fewer books, and take fewer hikes. The less-curious child is harder to teach because he is harder to inspire, enthuse, and motivate.
© Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD and the ChildTrauma Academy. For more information about the work of the ChildTrauma Academy, please visit


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