Whatever the species, dinosaurs attract the attention of children (and many adults too). In fact, it is likely that you also liked them during your childhood, or that maybe one of your friends was a big fan of dinosaurs… Now, what is it about these animals that makes them so interesting? Why do children love dinosaurs so much?
The devotion to dinosaurs that many children experience is more than just a hobby. They know the scientific name of different species, although they are rare, they know what they ate, where they stayed and what their peculiarities were. Their interest is so great that they can distinguish the different geological eras by the type of dinosaur that lived in them. Incredible, isn’t it? But why is that? Let’s see why these animals attract so much attention from children.
Passion and curiosity: the importance of intense interests
In psychology, a concept known as intense interests is used to refer to children’s preference, motivation or passion for very specific objects, activities or topics. This phenomenon usually develops at a very young age and, moreover, is more common in boys than in girls.
Intense interests do not consist of a general and passing taste for a specific object, such as a fantasy, a toy plane or, in this case, dinosaurs. Instead, they are characterized by the experience of a certain attraction, with great doses of passion, in relation to that object.
It is as if children feel an exaggerated curiosity to know everything about something very specific. In some cases, this attraction may even have certain obsessive traits. These types of interests usually have a number of common traits:
- They are relatively durable. They do not disappear in a matter of hours or days.
- They focus on different objects with similar characteristics or traits in common.
- They favour a conceptual mastery of that particular topic.
Parents usually identify this type of behaviour in their children quickly, as soon as something related to their subject of interest appears, the children immediately wish to investigate and delve deeper into the issue. They ask several questions to find out more, look for information within their reach to satisfy this kind of intellectual curiosity, or, after gathering enough information and learning something new about the subject, explain it to the people around them.
Children with intense interests are like those researchers who constantly seek information to learn more about a particular subject. They are usually attentive to increase their knowledge about their object of interest, they are interested in keeping themselves up to date and, moreover, they want others to know about their “new discoveries”.
According to some research, almost a third of children show this kind of interest between the ages of 2 and 6, although in some cases it takes longer. Therefore, if we take this phenomenon into account, the fact that children like dinosaurs is not by chance.
Why do children like dinosaurs? Cognitive benefits
The results of the study The development of conceptual interests in young children, conducted by the Universities of Indiana and Wisconsin, revealed that intense interests requiring conceptual mastery, such as dinosaurs, are very beneficial for children’s cognitive development.
The reason is that in addition to enriching vocabulary and increasing knowledge on a specific topic, it helps to improve the development of complex skills related to information processing, attention, concentration and perseverance.
In addition, children’s interest in dinosaurs also provides information on what strategies they use to address the topics of their interest and those not yet discovered. And this provides clues as to how they will meet the challenges that life presents in everyday life.
In a way, children who present this passion are not limited to superficial knowledge, but prefer to go further and investigate. They tend to be more autonomous and have an easier time to develop critical thinking.
These types of interests tend to disappear between 6 months and 3 years, according to research conducted by universities in Virginia, Yale and Queensland. In fact, only 20% of children actively maintain their intense interests over the years.
The reasons are usually the reduction in children’s free time for research and the demand for a wider knowledge of various subjects by the school, though at the same time less profound. Parents can maintain this great passion at home, as they can continue to feed their children’s curiosity, as well as encourage them to take the time to research what attracts them.
- To this end, parents can create spaces or use resources with which the child can learn about what interests him.
- Encourage conversations on topics that children are passionate about. For example, talk about the different types of dinosaurs, explain how they differ, etc.
- Encourage learning about other topics. In this case, you can start with topics related to the main theme.
- Show interest in what they say. The child has to understand that we listen and are attentive. This is a way to feed their interest and desire to know in order to keep growing.
Perhaps you understand your own dinosaur lover a little better now? Be sure to encourage their enthusiasm in every way you can because the research tells us that these passions can drop off if we don’t make time for them and nurture them.
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