Anyone who works with kids or is around kids often will tell you how variable kids can be. Some children are naturally outgoing and will strike up a conversation with you at once, while other kids will take some time to warm up to you. It can be hard to find ways to engage with kids, especially if you are a new figure in their lives.
If you are a parent, you want to feel connected to your children and be involved in their lives as much as possible. With school, extra-curriculars, work, and other commitments needing time and attention, finding the time to connect to your children can seem like mission impossible.
Children are naturally curious and will no doubt ask a seemingly infinite number of questions every single day. Asking children open-ended questions encourages their curiosity and imagination in one of the best ways possible. It gives them the chance to be creative and open-minded. It also gives you the chance to engage with them, even if it is only in small chunks of time that you have together.
Taking some time to ask kids questions, possibly while taking them to school or to their playdates and extra-curriculars, gets them talking to you about little things going on in their lives.
While it may not seem like much, it will make them much more likely to open up to you about their thoughts, ambitions, problems, and concerns, giving you the material to become more supportive and present in their lives.
Questions to Ask Kids to Get Them Talking
Questions to Ask Younger Kids
With younger children, it is much easier to present simple, yet open-ended questions as to not confuse them. Questions such as these may also keep them more engaged than complicated questions like the ones listed for older kids.
You may also want to tack on “why?” at the end of these questions to keep your kid’s thinking as you ask them questions.
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- Can you name something that makes you happy?
- If you could create a new animal, what would it look/sound like? Where would it live?
- Who is your favorite television/movie/book character?
- What is one thing you look forward to doing today?
- Do you think you should get paid for doing chores?
- What mythical creature would you like to have as a pet?
- Do you think animals talk to each other the same way we do?
- What did you dream about last night?
- If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- Can you come up with a new holiday tradition for your family to celebrate?
- What is the coolest thing you did today?
- If you had a Genie, what would your 3 wishes be?
- Do you think we will have flying cars in the future? What would they look like?
- What do you think the other side of the world does while we sleep?
- Do you think the monsters under your bed chase away your bad dreams?
Questions to Ask Older Kids
These questions listed below can be a great way to get older children and teenagers to open up to you about their thoughts, worries, and dreams for the future.
- What are 3 things you like about yourself?
- If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
- If you could give yourself a new name, what would you call yourself?
- What do you think is an important skill everyone needs to learn?
- What can I do as a parent to support you better?
- What are things that make you feel the most anxious or worried?
- What is something about growing up that you find exciting?
- If you won the lotto today, what would you do with the money?
- Do you think your parents should be giving you more [insert privilege child has (ex. allowance, screen time, etc.)]?
- If you could go back in time and tell your younger self anything, what would you tell them?
- What kind of life do you want to have when you grow up?
- What is something you do not think I know that you want me to know?
- If you could spend a day with anyone, dead or alive, real or fictional, who would it be?
- Do you think younger you would be proud of you today?
- What song makes you happy?
Would You Rather Questions to Ask Kids
“Would you rather” type questions are great fun for children of all ages and even adults. They are especially great for passing time on long car rides or grocery checkout lines.
- Would you rather live without [favorite food] or [another favorite food] for the rest of your life?
- Would you rather always be 10 minutes late or 30 minutes early everywhere you went?
- Would you rather be a foot taller or a foot shorter than everyone else?
- Would you rather be able to talk to animals or be able to speak every language on earth?
- Would you rather be the smartest person on earth or the most good-looking person on earth?
- Would you rather know when or know how you die?
- Would you rather have to shower with socks on or be forced to wear your shoes without socks?
- Would you rather live on mars or on a deserted island alone?
- Would you rather walk have to walk on all fours or walk on your hands everywhere you went?
- Would you rather spend a day with your least favorite teacher or your least favorite classmate?
- Would you rather lose an eye or lose an ear?
- Would you rather be able to see the future or know everything about the past?
- Would you rather be a muppet or a clown?
- Would you rather be a famous artist or a famous scientist?
What are Your Favorite ___ Questions to Ask Kids?
These questions just help you get to know kids better and get them to warm up to you. They may not be the most important things you need to know about or you might already know the answers to some, but you might still learn some interesting tidbits about them.
- What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
- What is your favorite chore to do?
- Who is your favorite role model/idol? Why do you look up to them?
- What is your favorite season?
- What is your favorite spring/summer/fall/winter activity?
- What is your favorite vacation we have been on?
- What is your favorite thing to do at [place or event]?
- What is your favorite part of school?
- What is your favorite gift you have received?
- What is your favorite way to relax?
- Who is your favorite relative?
- What is your favorite animal you would like to have as a pet?
- What is your favorite way to travel?
- What are your favorite ice cream toppings?
Questions About School to Ask Kids
School plays a huge part in every child’s life. Asking these questions will help you discover more about their interests and favorite subjects, and even give you a heads-up as to if they are struggling or being bothered by anyone or anything at school.
- Can you tell me something interesting you learned today?
- Did anything fun happen at school today?
- Do your classmates and teachers make you feel safe and happy?
- Does your teacher help you and your classmates out when you have problems?
- If you woke up tomorrow and became the teacher, what would you do?
- What subject do you find easiest/hardest? Why?
- What do you do for fun with your friends at recess?
- If you could add anything to your school schedule, what would it be?
- If you could get rid of anything at school, what would you get rid of?
- What rules do your teachers have you follow?
- Do you feel like you are keeping up with your lessons?
- What do you want to learn or do before the school year ends?
- How do you feel about your school extra-curriculars?
- What is something you would like to learn that isn’t taught in school?
Challenging Questions to Ask Kids
These questions are sure to get kids thinking and thinking creatively and critically. These questions might not interest a toddler so much, so stick to older kids for asking these questions.
- What is something you can do to make the world better?
- If you could do one thing to make the world better, what would you choose to do?
- What do you think life will be like in 20 years?
- What can you do to make someone else’s life happier?
- If you became president for a day, what you do to make life better for your citizens?
- Do you think it is okay to share secrets you were trusted with?
- If you could tell everyone on earth one truth and make them believe it, what would you say?
- Do you think it is okay to occasionally do things that go against your values in order to gain something else (ex. financial gain, career progress, save friendships, etc.)?
- Do you think it is better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big ocean?
- Do you think it is possible for people to do good things for some people and still be considered bad?
- What motivates you to be a good person?
- If you could look up any statistic about your life, what would you want to find out?
- What do you think is the difference between being good and being kind?
- Do you think becoming rich turns good people selfish?
Silly Questions to Ask Kids
While these questions do not exactly serve an important purpose and may only be good for a couple of laughs, they will for sure brighten your day and lighten the mood at least a little.
- Do you think our pets talk about us when we are not around?
- What do you think happens when you use conditioner before shampoo?
- If you bred a narwhal and a horse with each other, would you get a unicorn?
- If there were a book about your life, what would the title be?
- If you were in a zombie apocalypse, what you bring to help you survive?
- If you could stop doing one chore for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- Would you rather work at the Krusty Krab or at the Chum Bucket?
- If you could live in a cartoon world, what cartoon would you choose to live in?
- What do you think our pets would look like if they were human?
- What is the most disgusting food combination that you can come up with?
- Which of your parents do you think would win in a cartwheel race?
- If two mind-readers tried reading each other’s minds at the same time, would they end up reading their own minds?
- If you could rename all the animals on earth, what would you call each of them?
- If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would you want to have?
A Final Point
Children may not warm up to you asking them open-ended “thinking” questions right away. It is important that you do not feel discouraged, as persistence is the key. Just make sure to do it at the right times in the right amounts as to not overwhelm the kid and make them shut down.
Once children become more comfortable with you asking open-ended questions and using them as conversation starters. You can go on with more questions and they may even ask you some of their own. Soon enough, you will have an easy and simple way of connecting and communicating with children, no matter who you are in their lives.