Having meaningful conversations with kids can be challenging. Trust me, I get it. I’ve received my fair share of one-word answers in response to well-meaning questions.
“How are you feeling?” “Fine.”
“How was school today?” “Good.”
“Are you excited about (fill in the blank)?” “Sure.”
Be that as it may, conversing with our kids is so important for their development and wellbeing. Being able to hold a conversation helps children communicate clearly, develop strong relationships, build confidence, and ultimately, grow comfortable with expressing their emotions and needs with us (their parents) and others. Plus, developing and promoting conversation skills early on will make those inevitable difficult discussions and tough topics a little easier to tackle.
5 Ways to Have Meaningful Conversation with Your Kids
So, how can we get our kids to open up? Here are some practical tips for having meaningful conversation with kids and cultivating those conversation skills that will benefit them in the long run.
- Ask open-ended questions. Think twice before you ask a question that can be answered with just one word – how can you make it open-ended? For example, instead of “how was school today,” try “what was your favorite part of the day?”
- Eliminate distractions. Yes, our kids are easily distracted, but so are we! Put down your phone, set aside your laptop and turn off the television. Be fully engaged with your child to spark a conversation, and give your child your full attention. This not only demonstrates respective conversation skills, but also makes your child feel seen.
- Make the conversation a two-way street. Avoid asking question after question as your child will likely feel like he/she is being interrogated. Open up to them about your day, how you’re feeling and why, and/or share your own answer to the question you posed.
- Model good conversation skills. Make a point to have conversations with your spouse, other family members and other adults in front of your kids. Modeling good conversation and engaged communication will encourage your kids to join in.
- Cultivate conversation consistently. Determine when and where your kids are more likely to open up and have conversation. This is different for everyone – for some it’s in the car or around the dinner table, and for others it’s while doing an activity together or at bedtime. Whenever it is, take the opportunity to cultivate conversation on a regular basis.
Let’s Talk: 25 Conversation Starters for Kids
When initiating a conversation with our kids, it’s important to mix up the questions we ask from time to time to avoid talking about the same things day after day. Some children pick conversation skills up quickly, while others might need more practice, prompts and guidance. Here are some ideas:
- If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
- What are you thankful for today? And why?
- If you could have superpowers, what power would you choose?
- What’s your favorite song? Why do you like it?
- What is something you’d like to learn to do?
- If you were a color, what would you be? Why?
- What would you like to do more with your family?
- What is the nicest thing someone has done for you?
- How would you describe yourself to someone who hasn’t met you?
- Who is your best friend and why?
- If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
- What traits do you admire most about people you know?
- What is your favorite family memory?
- What is your favorite book? Why?
- If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be, and what would you talk about?
- If we could go anywhere on vacation, where would you want to go?
- What would you do if we could switch places for a day?
- What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
- What is your biggest fear?
- What are the most interesting things about you?
- What is your favorite movie? Why?
- What song always puts you in a good mood?
- If you could take only five items to a desert island, what would they be?
- What made you laugh today?
- Who was kind to you today? How were they kind?
Need more conversation inspiration? Card games can make having meaningful conversation even more fun. One of our family favorites to pull out at the dinner table is Authentic Agility.
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