How to Ask Simple Open Ended Questions Kids Really Want to Answer

This list of 45 open ended questions for kids will fill those awkward silences and eliminate one-word answers to keep your family talking!

Tired of trying to figure out what to say to your child, only to be met with silence, grunts, or "Whatever, mom." Use these 45 questions to get your kids talking!

Car rides sure can be awkward.

Your son is in the seat next to you, eyes glued to his phone.

You try to make conversation…

“So, your baseball game went well on Saturday.” Silence.

“Your team is pretty good this year.” He grunts and shrugs.

Sighing, you turn up the radio and drive the rest of the way without speaking a word.

You hear about other kids who actually TALK to their parents. You remember back when he was young…it was much easier to talk with him then.

You wish knew the secret to getting kids to open up!

How to ask questions your child really want to answer.

Unfortunately, you can’t force kids to talk. But, you can do a few things to encourage their participation in a conversation.

  • Keep things simple. Asking questions beyond “how was your day” might be a stretch for you, and that’s OK. You don’t have to be the world’s most creative conversationalist, use the list below and pick one question to try this week.
  • Don’t force it. Sometimes, the timing is just not right. Your child may not be in the mood to talk about silly things. Being present with your child in silence, especially if they are struggling, can send a powerful message of support and love.
  • Eye contact is optional. Sitting across the table from a parent may be uncomfortable for some kids. Instead, use activities like bike riding, taking a walk, or riding in the car as opportunities for conversation.
  • Ask the right questions. Open ended questions keep the conversation going because they cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no.” Think outside “what did you do at school today” and use these question to explore things you may have never discussed before.
  • Watch your response. Your child will clam up if you use this time for teaching, correcting, criticism or unfriendly sarcasm. Stay away from lecturing or making the discussion about you.
  • Be genuinely curious. Kids know when we’re faking interest. If they give an interesting or unusual answer, follow up with, “Why?” or “Tell me more about that.” or “Cool!” or “I had no idea, thanks for sharing!”
  • Actually listen. If your child is talking, pay attention! Put down your phone or whatever else is distracting you and focus on what they’re saying. Building their trust on fun questions like the ones below may help them feel safe enough to open up about bigger topics.

Related: 9 Communication Tips to End the Grunts, Groans, and Eye Rolls

45 Open Ended Questions for Kids

Next time you need to run errands, you jot a few of these questions on a piece of paper so you’ll be ready for the awkward silence.

  1. What class do you wish they offered in school?
  2. What subject would you erase from the school day?
  3. Who has been your favorite teacher so far?
  4. What would be your dream job?
  5. What would you do with $1,000?
  6. Which art medium is your favorite?
  7. If you started a band, what would the band name be?
  8. If you could take our family on vacation, where would we go?
  9. Are you a morning person or a night person?
  10. Which season do you enjoy most?
  11. How would you spend a day off from school?
  12. If you could take 3 friends to a concert, who would you take?
  13. Describe your dream house/car.
  14. Which house rule would you change?
  15. What is your favorite activity we do as a family?
  16. What do you wish we would do more often?
  17. Which board game/computer game/Ipad app is your favorite?
  18. What is on your birthday list?
  19. Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
  20. Which hobby do you enjoy most?
  21. If you could change one thing about your room, what would it be?
  22. Which TV family reminds you of our family?
  23. What is your least favorite chore?
  24. What do you think is your hidden talent?
  25. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
  26. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
  27. Name three things that you cannot live without.
  28. If you could design a new app, what would it do?
  29. What color describes your mood?
  30. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
  31. What are three traits of a good parent?
  32. What are three traits of a bad parent?
  33. What is your proudest moment so far?
  34. If you could add a pet to our family, what would you add?
  35. What is a skill you would like to learn?
  36. Would you rather have a lot of acquaintances or a few good friends?
  37. What do you like most about [insert popular social media platform]?
  38. What are some potential problems with having an argument over text?
  39. What type of music/band is your favorite?
  40. Would you rather talk through a problem right away or have time to think about it?
  41. What traits are you looking for in a girlfriend/boyfriend?
  42. What was the biggest disappointment you’ve had so far?
  43. What are some rules we have in our house that your friends don’t have?
  44. When did you feel most loved by me (or your other parent)?
  45. What can I do to make you feel special?

*Feel free to alter these to fit your child’s interest and developmental stage.

Halfway through the ride you casually ask…”So, if you could have only one superpower what would it be?”

Your son looks up from his phone. (A little caught off guard.)

“Huh?” He asks.

You repeat the question, smiling.

He mumbles something, but you run with it, digging a little into his answer, “Yeah, invisibility would be cool. When would you use your power?”

Or maybe you decide to disagree (lightheartedly, of course), “I don’t know…throwing fire could be a hazard, imagine what could happen at baseball practice!”

Laughing, you discuss the pros and cons of different superpowers for the rest of the ride.

Awkwardness avoided.

Ready to build an atmosphere of respect and love in your home?

Good News! My Communication for Imperfect Families eCourse is opening soon. You’ll learn how to get your kids to listen without yelling or repeating yourself 1,000 times, how to stop the backtalk and arguments, and confidently handle meltdowns and disagreements.

Interested? Get More Info Here!


Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

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