Helping Children Experience Awe

By Deborah Farmer Kris

Awe might be our most undervalued emotion. Here’s how to help children find it.

When my dad shook me awake at 2 a.m., I grumbled my way out to the backyard and onto the quilt he had spread out for me and my four siblings. Moments later, a streak of light sliced the sky. And then another. For hours, until the sun lit the horizon, we watched the cosmic dance of the Perseid meteor shower.
My 9-year-old self would have described the night as “awesome.” That’s a good word choice, because awesome has a powerful emotional correlate: awe.
Awe is what we feel when we encounter something vast, wondrous or beyond our ordinary frame of reference. It evokes a sense of mystery and wonder. And, given its documented benefits, awe might be our most overlooked, undervalued emotion.

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