Kids ask hundreds if not thousands of questions, especially when they’re really little. As they grow it seems the same questions get asked over and over (and over), and shocking new ones come up at the most inopportune times.
This barrage of insanely repetitive, sometimes crazy questions can cause parents (in order to save their sanity at times) to tune kids out and respond with the same canned answers.
But then there are the amazing questions they ask, the ones that give us a peek into the workings of their brilliant minds, ones that change our perspective on things; those are the ones that remind us why we became parents and jolt us back to listening and responding with genuine interest and support. The way most parents want to be with their kids.
Life is busy for families, and it seems to get busier and busier by the day as kids grow. I think one of the biggest regrets some parents have because of hectic schedules is not making time to talk with kids, to listen and respond to questions, and to ask the “right questions” themselves. I know I have let my family’s busy schedule trump quality family time together many times.
When our family dinner conversations were becoming non-existent, chatter in the car was becoming less and less, and that the conversations we did have seemed to be the same mundane questions and answers I started to feel like my Husband and I didn’t know important things about our Son. We realized something needed to change. Time goes by so fast, and if his questions stop now at 9 he won’t be talking to us about important things as he gets older.
We decided we needed to make spending time on computers, and phones into quality time together eating dinner, playing a board game, talking to one another and really listening, a priority. When we did we discovered a few new questions from us could start a whole new dialogue in our family. Conversations at dinner, in the car, and every other time became less mundane, more fun, and we all learned more about each other.
Here’s a list of simple family conversation starters!
Light and cleverly calculated “ask anywhere”questions to spark your kid’s minds and get your family talking.
1. Think about all the books you’ve read. Which character would you like to be friends with? What about them makes you feel this way?
2. If given a choice would you rather live by the beach, on a mountain, or in the desert?
3. What type of spy gadget would you invent? What would it be used for?
4. If you had to decide on one meal to eat for every meal for a month, what would it be?
5. If we could hop on an airplane to jet off on vacation right now, where would you want to go?
6. If you could do something just like a person or friend you admire what would you do?
7. If you could do something like Dad or Mom do, what would you want to be able to do?
8. If you could change anything about our family what would it be?
9. Who is your favorite tv/movie character? What do you like most about him/her?
10. If you could eat lunch with (insert favorite character’s name) where would you go and what would you eat together?
11. If you could wake up tomorrow with a superpower, which one would you want to have?
12. If you could change your name, would you? If yes, what name would you choose instead?
13. Is there something you never thought you could tell me/us but maybe want to tell me/us now?
14. What’s the funniest thing you saw today/this week?
15. If you could turn invisible where would you go and what would you do?
16. What scares you the most and why?
17. If all of your clothes could only be one color what color would they be?
18. If you could live one day in your life over again which one would it be?
19. What’s the nicest thing someone did for you today/this week?
20. What is something you wish you could do or be better at?
These questions are about the little things they aren’t really deep and/or psychological. But they do work magic, they did for my family anyway. The more kids feel they can chat about the little things the more likely they’ll be to open up about the big things later on.
I first asked some of these questions as part of a homeschooling storytelling exercise I was working on with my Son. I was shocked at how happy he was to answer them. We continued to talk about ideas that came up because of the questions throughout the day. It made us all realize how much we hadn’t been talking and really listening to each other. A really big Aha! experience for all of us in a good way.
The bottom line on family conversation starters
We give kids an awesome gift by truly being present when we talk to them. Even more, asking different kinds of offbeat questions, not just ones like “How was your day?”, or “Is your homework done?” shows we’re curious and interested in what they think.
Asking questions like the ones above have been a win/win for both us as parents and our Son. Asking fun light-hearted questions we learn more about him and he feels more connected to us. We know that the discoveries and connection we made now with these engaging questions will help us get answers to more difficult ones that could come up later down the road.
Communication can break down at different points in families so these questions might be a little too young for tweens and teens. Here’s another article that has more mature and pointed questions to connect with bigger kids, 180 Conversation Starters for Family Discussions.