If you’re not getting much more than a “yeah,” “nope,” or “fine” when you ask about your kid’s day at school, it¬†might be time for some¬†new conversations starters. (Trust us, we’re right there with you.)

So we¬†set out to collect dozens of¬†smart, easy, open-ended questions to ask your kids, so you don’t just get a yes or no answer.

We’ve thrown these out around our own dinner tables, and have¬†been surprised by how much these 30+ questions¬†really got our¬†kids talking.

So, here’s to engaging dinner conversations…with the¬†whole¬†family.

Top photo by Jon Flobrant via Unsplash

 

Open-ended questions about feelings

We get it, getting your kids to open up about their feelings is downright impossible sometimes. So ask them something specific, and maybe in a way that gives them permission to air some grievances, even if it’s grievances with you.

-What made you laugh today?

-What has made you feel embarrassed lately?

-What’s the most challenging thing about being a member of our family?

-Can you tell us the best thing about being a part of this family?

-What is your biggest fear?

-What are three things you are feeling grateful for today?

-Which accomplishment are you most proud of?

-What can I do to make you feel more appreciated?

Related: Becoming a more mindful parent: 5 simple tips

Open-ended questions about academics

As kids get older, it’s sometimes harder to keep track of how they’re doing in school. As a parent, we don’t always want to wait for a parent-teacher conference to know which subjects our child likes best and whether they’re struggling in other areas. Gauge how they’re feeling about what they’re learning, and it may give you a glimpse into their progress.

-Which teacher are you learning the most from?

-What do you like about your class? (And ask the opposite too.)

-What could your school do better to help you enjoy your experience there?

-What are you reading right now that you enjoy?

-Who is making school hard for you?

-What’s coming up at school soon that you’re excited (or nervous, worried, etc.) about?

 

Open-ended questions about the future

Let’s face it, no one wants to answer that dreaded question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Try these instead.

-If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why?

-If you had a million dollars, what would you spend it on?

-Would you ever get a tattoo? Color your hair? Get a piercing?

-Do you hope to be a parent someday? How many children do you want?

-How do you think the world will be different when you’re an adult?

-What is one thing you hope to change in the world when you grow up?

Photo by Elijah Henderson via Unsplash

Photo by Elijah Henderson via Unsplash

Open-ended questions about friendship

When you’re a kid, friendships are hard to navigate, and kids don’t always want to talk about their experiences with classmates and cliques, especially if they’re going through a difficult time with certain friends. Try to get your kids to open up to you, by asking them the easy questions first.

-What makes someone a good friend? (Or, a bad friend?)

-Who at your school would you like to get to know better?

-Tell me about someone who made you feel special today. What did they do or say?

-What was one nice thing you did for someone today?

-Do you know anyone at your school who’s being treated badly? How do you think they are feeling right now?

-How are your friends’ families different from ours?

-Which of your friends do you admire most? And, why?

Related: A complaint and compliment box: How this simple change could make your family life so much happier

Open-ended questions that challenge your kids

Make your questions FUN¬†and it won’t seem like you’re pestering! Not every conversation has to be a serious one. You’re more likely to get your kids to open up if you can get them to crack a smile first.

-Is it ever okay to lie? (Explore other ethical quandaries like this — our kids love to play judge!)

-What is your life motto? Or, make one up if you don’t have one!

-Should your school allow kids your age to use cell phones during the day?

-What do you like the most about yourself?

-What do you like most about your brother/sister?

-What’s the most embarrassing thing I do?

-What’s your favorite family tradition?

-What’s your earliest memory?

-What is one thing you would change about our home?

-If you had to put one item from home into a time capsule what would it be, and why?

And, of course, if all else fails, our tried-and-true topic of conversation is to ask our kids to share one great thing and one not-so-good thing that happened in their day. This open-ended question works on everyone, from our preschoolers to our teens. Promise.