What do I say?

We know that having a strong bond with our children is important but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to our kids, particularly once they’ve entered that tricky adolescent stage of one word answers!  We’ve reviewed a number of conversation starters for parents and children and highlighted our favourites.  Hopefully this will help you get started.  I know it sounds obvious but please only ask one question at a time and LISTEN to the answer, ensuring your child knows you are listening. If they ask the question back to you tell them what you think, our kids are interested in us too, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.  This will encourage them to want to talk and before you know it you won’t need these ideas anymore!

Getting to Know Your Child
  • If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
  • If you had a time machine for a day, what would you do with it?
  • What’s your favorite song? Why?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be?
  • If you had to choose only three words to describe yourself, what would you say?
  • What is your idea of an ideal day?
  • Would you rather live in a castle, on a boat, or on a cloud?
  • If you could ask anyone for help, who would it be and why?
  • What scares you the most and why? What makes you feel better?
  • What do you worry about the most?
Your Relationship with Your Child
  • What is your favourite thing about our relationship?
  • What is your least favourite thing about our relationship?
  • If you got into really big trouble, how do you think I would respond?
  • Is there something I can do better that I am not doing now?
  • If we had a special day together what would you want to do?
  • Do I ever embarrass you?
  • What are the most important things I have taught you?
  • If you had to choose only three words to describe me, what would you say?
  • If you and your parents switched places for a day, what are the first things you would do?
Family
  • How do you think your friends’ families compare to ours? Are they about as close? Closer? More distant? Why do you think that?
  • Do you think your friends talk to their parents?
  • What do you think makes a family close?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how strict are the parents in this family? What is the ideal number?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities of a good parent?
  • What do you think makes a happy family?
  • Do you want to have kids when you grow up? Why or why not?
  • What kind of parent will you be?
  • How many of your ancestors can you name and what do you know about them?
  • What is your favourite family tradition?
  • What three words do you think best describe our family?
Blended Families
  • Do blended families take more work? Can they be as happy as birth families?
  • Do you ever miss your mum / dad?
  • Do you think things would be different if your mum / dad was still with us and I had never met your step-mum/dad? How?
  • You know, to your little sister you are completely her sister, not her stepsister. Do you feel that way, or is it different for you? Do you feel close to her?
  • When you both grow up, do you think you will stay connected?
  • Do you think it’s harder for children who have been adopted than for children who weren’t?
  • Do you think it’s a good idea for kids who were adopted to look up their birth parents? Why or why not?
Values & Character
  • Did you have a chance to be kind to anyone today?
  • Is it hard to make the choice to be kind sometimes?
  • Does it matter if a person makes a moral or immoral choice, if no one ever knows?
  • Do adults automatically deserve respect? How do you earn respect?
  • What could our family do that would make the world a better place?
  • What do you think the biggest problem in the world is? How about in our country?
  • How would you change the world if you could?
  • What do you think the “take-away” message of this movie is?
  • Do you admire the hero in this movie? Why or why not?
School & Learning
  • Who is your favourite teacher? Why?
  • Do you think there is a difference between being smart and being wise?
  • What are the best and worst things about school?
  • What do you know how to do that you could teach someone else?
  • Do you respect your teachers? Why or why not? Do you think they respect you?
  • Do you think kids from wealthier school areas have an unfair advantage?
  • What do you think about home-schooling?
Emotions
  • Are you able to tell me or others when you are upset?
  • How do you feel when someone is angry with you? How do you act?
  • Are you a “cup is half full” or “cup is half empty” kind of person?
  • What do you do to cheer yourself up when you feel down?
  • Have I ever not noticed when you’re sad?
  • What is the best way for me to help you when you feel grumpy?
  • When do you like me to hug you? When does it embarrass you?
  • What hurts your feelings? How do you act when your feelings are hurt?
  • When you get really angry, how do you help yourself calm down?
  • What are the different kinds of courage? How do you define bravery?
Drug and Alcohol Use
  • Why do you think it’s illegal for kids under the age of 18 to drink alcohol?
  • Why are marijuana and other drugs illegall?
  • What would you do if you were in a car and the driver had been drinking or smoking marijuana?
  • What do you think happens in the brain when people smoke marijuana? Why shouldn’t kids smoke it?
  • Have you ever thought that I drank too much? Acted differently when I drank alcohol?
  • Do you know any kids who have tried alcohol or drugs, what do you think of them?
  • What would you do if you were at a party and someone passed out from drinking alcohol?
Friendship & Peers
  • Who is your best friend and why?
  • What traits do you look for in friends?
  • Do you think you’re good at making friends?
  • Where do you consider yourself on the shy to outgoing continuum?
  • Have you ever been mad at one of your friends? How did you handle it?
  • Do you think there is a such thing as peer pressure? Do you ever feel peer pressure? Do you think some people are more susceptible to peer pressure than others? Why do you think that is?
  • What do you think makes a person popular?
  • Are you popular? Why or why not? Would you like to be?
  • What do you think leadership is? What makes a good leader?
Bullying
  • Who gets teased at school or in your activities, and why?
  • Does the teasing ever go over the top?
  • How can we define what’s ok and what’s not?
  • Does the kid getting teased think the teasing is bullying, or not?
  • Do the kids who aren’t leading the teasing feel they have to join in?
  • How do the kids who get teased react?
  • Do they stick up for themselves?
  • Does that help or make matters worse?
  • Does anyone else ever step in to stick up for the kids being teased?
  • What do you think the teasing does to the person being teased?
  • How does it affect the people doing the teasing?
  • Do you ever get teased or bullied?
  • If you did, what could you do or say?
Love, Sex & Marriage
  • At what age do you think people can fall in love? At what age should people marry?
  • Do you think people should be married to have sex? If not, how should they decide whether they’re ready?
  • What do you think changes when you have sex?
  • How do you think love is different in real life than it is in the movies?
  • What would be most important to you in looking for a spouse?
  • Do you think any of the kids at school are not virgins? What do you think about that?
  • Do kids at your school actually “date”? What do you think about the idea of “friends with benefits”? Does the girl benefit as much as the boy?
  • Do you think girls and boys have the same needs from sex and relationships?
  • Do you know anyone who’s gay? Does anyone treat them differently? What do you think about that?
  • Why do you think people get divorced? How do you think it affects the kids?
Body Image and Gender Roles
  • How do you think ordinary peoples’ bodies compare to the models and actors on TV? How does it make you feel to watch them?
  • Do you think girls look better with or without make-up?
  • Who decides whether someone is pretty or attractive?
  • Is attractiveness innate or is it something we can make ourselves?
  • Is someone pretty who acts ugly?
  • Is someone pretty who is in rags but acts bravely and with caring?
  • What matters most, attractiveness or being strong, smart, brave, responsible, caring, etc?
  • What are the most important qualities you would want in a boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • What’s the hardest thing about being a girl?
  • What’s the hardest thing about being a boy?
  • Do you know anyone with an eating disorder? Why do you think kids develop eating disorders? Why do you think there’s such an emphasis on thin-ness in our society?
  • Can you name three things that you really like about yourself that have nothing to do with what you look like?
Spirituality
  • Do you believe in God? Why or why not? If so, how do you picture God?
  • Do you ever talk to God?
  • Is spirituality the same as religion or different?
  • Has religion played a positive or negative role in history?
  • Do you have good friends who practice religions that are different from ours? Acquaintances? How are you like them? How are you different?
  • Do you think there is one best religion? Why or why not?
  • What do you think happens after death?
  • What do you think is the meaning of life? Why are we alive?
  • How will you know if you’ve had a successful life?