Discovery Point Blog

March 27, 2020
getting kids talking

10 Conversation-Starting Questions for Your Child

Let’s face it, some kids are chatterboxes while others are clams. If your child is in the latter group, you may feel at a loss when it comes to initiating a conversation that brings them out of their shell. Read on for our tips for getting children to open up, as well as some questions that can lead to more enlightening conversations with your child.

Creating the Right Atmosphere for a Conversation

As with most things in life, timing is an important factor for any conversation. If your child simply isn’t in the mood to chat, it’s best not to force the issue. However, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on bonding with them. Even sitting in silence with your child can show that you love and support them. Try to be present in the moment, and stay open to the idea of talking in case your child just needs a few moments before they’re ready to express themselves.

It’s also important to remember how uncomfortable it can be for children to sit still while talking. There are plenty of activities that you can do as you carry on a conversation together, from walking in the park to bike riding or even playing with clay or building blocks. Creating an atmosphere in which your child feels relaxed can go a long way in helping them feel more comfortable about opening up.

Open-Ended Questions for Youngsters

Younger children may not be ready to answer super-abstract questions, but they can certainly benefit from being asked open-ended questions that require more than a simple one-word answer. 

Next time you’re alone with your child, try sparking an interesting conversation with questions such as the following:

1.       What is the craziest thing that has happened to you?

2.       What nickname would you give me and why?

3.       What is something new you learned today?

4.       Did you see anyone do something funny today?

5.       What do you want to change about the world?

Open-Ended Questions for Older Children

Older children are more able to understand idioms, advanced vocabulary, and abstract ideas. They also may appreciate having the opportunity to express their abstract thoughts and inner feelings to someone they trust. Here are a few questions you can ask to learn more about your older child’s inner world:

1.       Do you have any enemies? Who and why?

2.       What are some goals you want to accomplish this year?

3.       What would your perfect day look like?

4.       What do you think you’ll be doing five years from now?

5.       When is the last time someone pushed your buttons?

Setting the Stage for Future Conversations

In order to ensure your child looks forward to future conversations with you, avoid using this time as an opportunity for a lecture or teaching session. Instead, remain genuinely curious about your child’s answers and give them plenty of time and space to elaborate as more thoughts come to them. 

Most of all, resist the temptation to turn this into a conversation about yourself. You’ll likely have plenty of time in the future to tell favorite stories from your past. However, now’s your only chance to learn how your child feels and thinks at this particular age. With a little creativity and a lot of patience, you can become a trustworthy conversation partner who they can always turn to.