Lela Davidson is a mother and writer who is passionate about healthcare and education for women and children.
In the News:
This is a great article that highlights the benefit of good conversation with your children:
Dinner talks help prevent substance abuse
Asking open-ended questions is a great way to get information from and bond with your children. Good open-ended questions encourage more conversation than closed questions, which can be answered by a simple yes or no. Practice with these type of questions and you'll have both conversation topic for kids and the opportunity to build a better relationship with your child.
Click here for great ways to use open ended questions.
Here are my favorite 50:
- What is the most amazing thing about you?
- Which of your friends do you think I like the most? Why?
- What would be the ideal allowance and how you spend use it?
- Tell me about the best teacher you ever had?
- If a genie would give you only one wish, which would you pick, and why?
- When you feel sad, what cheers you up?
- What punishment have I given you that you thought was really unfair? Why?
- If you could change three things about yourself, what would they be?
- What kinds of lies do your friends tell their parents?
- What are the qualities that make a good friend?
- Tell me about your favorite toy when you were little?
- Tell me about something I never knew you did when you were little.
- What do you say to comfort yourself when something scares you?
- If you could decorate our whole house, what would it look like?
- Looking at your pictures, when have you been the cutest so far?
- What do you think are the characteristics that make a good parent?
- What kind of sex education do you think kids ought to get in school?
- What is the most enjoyable thing our family has done together this year?
- At what age do you think kids fall in love?
- What do you think is beyond the stars?
- What is the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?
- Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend.
- How do you think kids are affected by divorce?
- Who is the meanest kid you know? Why?
- Do you believe in heaven? If not, why? If so, what do you think it's like?
- If you were going to have a weird, unusual pet, what would it be?
- Do you think honesty is always the best policy? Why or why not?
- What have you done, in school or sports or anywhere, that you are especially proud of?
- Which of your friends are you proudest of? Why?
- Have you ever had a dream that really scared you? What was it about?
- Describe the most beautiful place you have ever visited?
- How do you describe me to your friends?
- Have you ever gotten really lost? If so, tell me about it. How did you feel?
- Do you think you live in a dangerous neighborhood? Why or why not?
- Not counting our religion, which religions do you find interesting? Why?
- What is the grossest thing you can think of?
- Is there anybody in history that you have read about that you would like to be?
- What do you think is the right age for marriage? Why?
- Tell me three things you remember about kindergarten.
- What kids are popular in your grade? What do you think makes a person popular?
- Has anyone ever tried to give you drugs? If so, what did you do?
- If you knew a friend of yours had stolen something, what would you do about it?
- If you could trade lives with somebody you know, who would it be?
- How do you think you would feel if you thought you were going to be the first person to meet someone from outer space? What would you say or ask?
- What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
- What is your very earliest memory as a very little kid?
- Do you think any of our neighbors are scary?
- Do you ever have a dream that comes back over and over? If so, what is it like?
- Why do you think some people don't like animals?
And the all time family favorite - What would you do if you won the lottery - the BIG one.
We love to play with this last question in our house, which is hilarious because we don't play! But it's still nice to ponder how we'd spend our time if money were no object.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 10, 2014:
This hub is excellent-- full of wonderful ideas to communicate more deeply with the children in our lives! I'm pinning to to my "Parenting Help" Board that has 643 followers. Parents want to know about these open-ended questions! Thanks! voted up...
ANISH N R K from Kerala, India on May 02, 2014:
asking open ended questions also serves 2 purposes:
it makes children thing
it develops linguistic skills
asking about questions like no:5 & 45 will spark fantasy thinking and
Allyson Cardis from Gloucestershire, England on March 24, 2014:
I think this is my favourite ever 'family and parenting' hub. I love the concept of being interested in kids and engaging with them as people who have opini0ns.
kerlund74 from Sweden on February 23, 2014:
Amazing, thank you:)
David Heinz from Salt Lake City, UT on August 23, 2013:
I don't think you could have said it better. I get those questions on a daily basis.
Lizett from The Great Northwest on August 18, 2013:
What a useful hub!
Max Zvyagintsev from New Zealand on July 23, 2013:
Awesome conversation starters Lela!
I have 2 younger brothers (2 & 4). We have all sort of fun and weird conversations.
Next time I think I'll try a few of your starters :)
mse from texas on July 17, 2013:
FlourishAnyway from USA on July 08, 2013:
Very good conversation starters!
Rini Verhoeve on September 11, 2011:
Thank you so much for this, this is really help me alots. thanks again...:-)
Mary Mazzoni on July 25, 2011:
Great post. A real blessing. Thanks!!
hyatguy on June 03, 2011:
I'm trying to create a resource for being great at conversation - I know I'm not that good at talking to people - and it would help me out if you went here (www.agreatconversation.com/ask) and told me your main frustration, issue or obstacle that stops you being great at conversation. Mine is drying up and running out of things to say! Thanks for your help.
Gary on May 24, 2011:
Hello ! THESE questions are very ..... hmmmm..interesting.
Sun-Girl from Nigeria on May 18, 2011:
Intelligent article you have here Davidson,glad to read fro you.
AutumnLockwood from Northern California on November 17, 2010:
Great tips. Love your hub!
sligobay from east of the equator on August 16, 2010:
I agree with Jason's comment of 2 years ago. These same questions can spark some lively conversation and draw up some old memories among adults. Great work with this article. I am printing your questions and putting them in my pocket to see if I can answer them myself. Cheers.
celinewayne on June 28, 2010:
thanks for sharing this =)
i'm sure you become the most favorite mommy in the world =)
Kharisma1980 from Toronto on April 30, 2010:
Thanks for this Hub...what fabulous questions!
Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on April 08, 2010:
fantastic list must copy & put in my pocket !
Jeff Berndt from Southeast Michigan on March 03, 2010:
I'm linking to this.
Joshua U on May 24, 2009:
You're teasing me. What's the 50th? There's only 49 ;) Most young children would love hearing the majority of those questions at any time because they spark imagination.
Lela Davidson (author) from Bentonville, Arkansas on February 03, 2009:
Thanks, johnr54. That's a good point. Same goes for spouses!
Joanie Ruppel from Texas on February 02, 2009:
This is a good list. With teens the other thing to remember is that you need to pick a good time to talk, if they aren't in the mood it really doesn't matter what you ask, you'll just get grunts.
seamus on April 09, 2008:
My little one is too young for some of these now. I'll keep these in mind though. I love to ask her questions and see what she says.
MasonsMom from U.S.A. on March 29, 2008:
These are great!
JerseyGirl from Jersey Shore on March 29, 2008:
Very nicely done!
RainbowRecognizer from Midwest on March 29, 2008:
These are awesome, Lela, and what a Great idea for a hub!!!
Jason Stanley on March 29, 2008:
This is an excelled idea - and one that is very much needed with kids.
These type of questions are great not only for building relationships with your children, they are also great for teaching values and getting children to evaluate their own actions against their own desires and values.
During dinner we frequently asked our children: What did you do today that you are proud of? Why are you proud of that? And What did you do today that you would do differently if you could? Why would you change it?
Now that our kids are grown, we still use some variation of this with our friends - it is amazing how much conversation it starts and how much you learn about your friends. Sometimes it takes a bit of courage to answer, but that is so much better than just talking about some silly make believe movie.