When you stop to think about it, talking to your child doesn’t feel like it should be difficult. But as kids grow and form their own opinions on things, it seems that communication becomes exponentially more difficult with each passing day. As parents, you’re often busy with the demands of work, family, and everything else life throws your way. At the same time, your kids are getting out in the world and navigating experiences and emotions that are new to them. Everyone has their “things” to deal with, and in the end, it could feel like you’re just two ships passing in the night.
Additionally, with each passing year, the dynamics of the parent-child relationship are changing. According to Michelle Davies, Certified Life Coach and founder of The Best Ever Guide to Life, tweens and teens are learning how the world works, and are beginning to assert their independence. Parents, however, may have some difficulty with this newly created distance that naturally occurs when kids start building interests outside the home.
Nevertheless, parents must press on and keep the lines of communication open because kids who have strong connections with their parents are apt to be more confident, secure, and successful, not to mention better prepared for adulthood.
So when opening up the lines of communication, Davies reminds parents to keep it breezy. She says, “In your desire to connect with your kid during this awkward phase, you may sound too prying and intrusive. Your kids will find this annoying and might even dread having conversations with you.” Instead, she advises parents to keep the vibe relaxed and casual. Davies says, “You can talk about serious topics once in a while, when necessary. At this stage, though, it’s best to start talking to your kid as a friend.”
Davies also reminds parents to listen and (while it may be difficult) resist the urge to give advice all the time. Instead, she says, “lend a listening ear and guide your kid to come up with solutions on their own. It’s a good way to develop their problem-solving skills.”
Of course, we know that when the opportunity for a conversation presents itself, it’s hard to know where to begin, and drawing a blank on a good question is a distinct possibility. To help you out, ahead we offer 75 great conversation starters for you and your kids. These thought-provoking questions are broken down by category, and most importantly, they’re open-ended, so who knows where it can lead.
Conversation Starters on Travel and the Great Outdoors
If you sense a bit of wanderlust in your kid, these questions can be great conversation starters.
1. Do you want to travel the world or stay in your hometown?
2. If you could move anywhere in the world, which country would you live in?
3. Which are the top five places in the world you’d like to visit?
4. What was your number one childhood vacation?
5. What’s the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen in nature?
6. Which season do you prefer the most and why?
7. Which three items would you take with you to a deserted island?
Conversation Starters on Goals and Future Plans
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a standard question for kids, but it can be a bit overwhelming. Instead, try the following questions; each question is super-specific, but altogether they can paint a pretty clear picture about what the future holds for both you and your child.
8. What skill would you like to learn?
9. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
10. What are the top three things on your bucket list?
11. What profession do you see yourself being happy in?
12. Do you want to own a house one day?
13. If you could start your own business today, what would it be?
14. Which charity would you volunteer at and why?
15. If you could solve one world issue, what would it be?
16. What would you change about the world if you could change anything?
17. Which things have you achieved that you didn’t think you would?
18. What three things do you see yourself achieving in your life?
19. Pick three positive words to describe yourself.
20. Would you rather spend all day inside reading a book or outside with friends?
Conversation Starters on Social Topics, Friends, and Relationships
Let’s face it, your child’s social life is pretty important to them right now, and truth be told, these are the things that will shape them for years to come. They’ll give you a better sense of what makes your child tick.
21. What is the best present you ever received?
22. What is the most embarrassing thing anyone could ever do to you?
23. What is your earliest memory?
24. What’s the funniest joke you know?
25. Which three people would you take with you to a deserted island?
26. Who is your best friend, and how did you meet?
27. Name someone who changed your life. Why?
28. What’s your biggest fear?
29. What was your most embarrassing experience?
30. Would you eat bugs for $100,00?
31. Would you rather spend all day inside reading a book or outside with friends?
32. What makes someone a good friend?
33. What makes someone a bad friend?
34. Would you rather have two or three really close friends or a 20 which would you choose
35. Do you have any friends that you’re worried about right now? Why?
36. What traits do you look for when you’re trying to make a new friend?
37. What do you like most about your brothers/sisters
38. Would you rather date someone older or younger than you?
39. Would you consider yourself to be more of a shy person or an outgoing person?
40. What would you say is one of your weaknesses?
41. Who are your heroes, and what qualities do you admire about them?
42. Is there someone who you think looks up to you? Who is it, and what do you think they look up to about you?
43. What is something that you really like about yourself?
44. At what age would you like to live on your own?
45. Do you have any role models? Who are they, and why do you look up to them?
46. Which famous person don’t you like and why?
47. What’s the one thing you would change about yourself?
48. If you could change your first name, what name would you pick instead?
Conversation Starters on Things that Change Over Time
With each year, your kids are growing and changing at a dizzying pace. Last month’s favorite meal could be boring this week, and the songs and bands that are “in” today, will in all likelihood not be a few months from now. No doubt your child’s likes, dislikes, and favorite fill-in-the-blank things will likely change faster than they can switch the song on Spotify, so it’s a good idea to check in on them more frequently.
49. What’s your favorite movie?
50. What’s your favorite book?
51. Who’s your favorite band or musician?
52. What’s your favorite genre of music?
53. What’s your favorite school subject?
54. What’s your favorite song?
55. Which candy do you like the most?
56. What’s your favorite sport?
57. What do you love to do in your free time?
58. If you had to choose one meal to eat every day, what would it be?
59. What is your favorite dish at the moment?
60. If you could eat any food right now, what would it be?
61. What is the one food you won’t eat and why?
62. Hamburgers, pizza, or tacos?
63. What’s on your food bucket list?
64. If you could get rid of one person in the world, who would you choose?
65. If you could be the best in the world at one thing, what would you choose?
Conversation Starters on Hopes, Dreams, and Wishes
These questions are great conversation starters for older kids that will also give you a good sense of what they hope for and what they value.
66. If you won $1 million, how would you spend it?
67. If you had one wish, what would you wish for? (No wishing for more wishes!)
68. If you could relive one day of your life, which would it be?
69. If money was no object 9, how would you decorate your room?
70. Which superpower would you wish for?
71. If you could time travel, where would you go?
72. What would you do if you were so rich that you didn’t need to work?
73. What would you do if you only had a month left to live?
74. If you could pick one age to remain in for the rest of your life, what would that be?
75. If you could be invisible, be immortal, be rich or fly, which one would you pick?
Talking to your kids can feel pretty difficult, but the truth is it doesn’t have to be. A few well-thought-out questions can really open the door to a great relationship, and they can also be an eye-opener — for everyone. Just remember to keep it light, keep it breezy and try your best not to turn it into a helicopter parenting moment.