Every parent sometimes feels like they struggle to communicate effectively with their kids. Even if you have a child who is relatively loud or chatty, it can still be difficult to get a feel for what they are thinking—especially if they’re the type to communicate more through actions than words. So what’s the best way to get your child to open up?
A recent Parenting article suggested parents take an indirect approach to asking questions, noting that it works much better than a direct line of questioning that may make kids feel put on the spot.
“When you’re hanging out with your child and he’s feeling comfortable, resist the urge to probe,” the writer, Teri Cettina, advises. “Beat around the bush a little instead. Ask a question like ‘Hey, if you were interviewed by a reporter, what would you tell him are the best things about fourth grade? And the worst?'”
Asking your child detailed, open-ended questions will not only help prompt conversation but will encourage curiosity.
Parenting requires good communication, and so does marriage, friendship and relationships with classmates and co-workers, so working with your child and helping them develop good communication skills can set them up for success now as well as in the future.
Ready to get started? Just start talking. Here are 21 questions to jumpstart your conversations.
1. We love this one from Scholastic: “If a genie gave you three wishes right now, what would they be? And if the genie could erase three things that really worry you, what would those be?”
2. What are three of your favorite memories?
3. If you had to describe the best day of your life up to this moment, what would you say?
4. If you could only listen to one song on repeat for the next month, what would it be?
5. If you could have anything for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what would you choose to eat?
6. Out of all the restaurants we like to frequent, what is your favorite and why?
7. What do you think you’ll do when you grow up?
8. If you could plan a day, doing anything you’d like, what would you do?
9. If you had the choice to live anywhere in the world for one month, where would you choose?
10. Which season do you prefer: spring, summer, fall or winter, and why?
11. If you could be an only child, would you want to be? For only children: If you could have brothers and sisters, would you? A brother or a sister?
12. If you’re feeling sad, what things help really cheer you up?
13. What type of house do you imagine yourself living in when you’re older?
14. If a friend asked you to tell him or her the funniest thing that happened to you, what story would you tell?
15. If you were to name one of your friends as your best, who would you choose?
16. Would you ever consider changing your name if you had the option? What would it be?
17. What is your favorite thing to do to make others happy?
18. If you had the chance to choose what type of car you’ll drive when you’re 16, what would you pick?
19. Where would you take the family if you had a choice to choose the next destination for our family vacation?
20. Given the chance to change one thing in your life, what would it be?
21. What one sport have you never tried but think you might be good at?
22. If a reporter asked you to share your favorite thing about our family, what would you tell her?
23. What are some of the ways you feel loved by me?
Asking these questions with an open heart and open mind, while not passing any sort of judgement, is a good way to promote healthy communication between you and your child—not just in that moment, but in the future as well.