42 Conversation Starters for Kids

Mom talking to her daughter

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As a parent, you’re likely to feel like you know your children like the back of your hand. You know the foods they refuse to eat, and those they gobble up. You know faces they make when they’re sad, and the exclamations they make when they’re ecstatic. In short, these are the people that you’re closest to in the entire world.

However, people—including kids—are constantly changing and developing new preferences, fears, thoughts, and emotions. Therefore, to continue to know your children well, you need to keep asking questions to start conversations.

A simple question like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” seems like it might not offer too much insight, but if you continue to encourage a discussion about the topic, you might be surprised as to what you can learn.

These conversation starters can also help your child develop characteristics such as gratitude, imagination, empathy, and confidence.

You can bring up these questions when you’re in the car, at the dinner table, or at any other time when the whole family can focus on the conversation. You can even make a game of it. Print out a bunch of questions and cut them up on individual strips of paper, then have your child choose a question to talk about.

To Get to Know Your Child Better

Asking specific questions about your child’s life, dreams, emotions, and values can help you know and understand the person you're raising. It can also give you clues about things you might want to work on with your child, or areas where they could use a little guidance.

Either way, you're bound to leave the conversation feeling astonished that by all you're learning about the person your child is becoming.

Here are some conversation starters that can help you continue to get to know your child:

  • What do you think about clothing styles that are popular today?
  • What do you think is the most important quality a person can have?
  • What traits do you look for in friends?
  • What was your most embarrassing moment?
  • Who is your best friend? Why are they your best friend?

To Enhance Family Relationships

Your child needs to feel that they are an important member of the family. It can be interesting to get a sense of what your child thinks about being part of your family.

As kids grow up, they often look at their friends’ families or at families on TV and wonder what it would be like if they were raised in a different environment. It can be eye-opening to hear their thoughts on what they appreciate about your family, as well as things they might wish were different.

Rather than argue or defend the things that might be a little tough to hear about your family, ask your child some follow-up questions.

On the other hand, you might be honored and even surprised to learn what your child loves and appreciates about being part of your family.

Here are some questions that can spark interesting conversations about your family:

  • Do you think the discipline and consequences in our family are fair?
  • If you could make three family rules, what would they be?
  • What are the most important things we’ve taught you?
  • What do you like best about your siblings?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities of a good parent?
  • What is your favorite family tradition?
  • What is your favorite thing about our family?
  • What should we do more of as a family?

If your child does not have siblings but is close with their cousins, ask questions about their involvement in your family instead.

To Help Grow Gratitude

From improved physical health to better relationships, studies consistently show the many benefits of practicing gratitude. In today's world, raising a grateful child can be challenging. Kids who have what they need (or more) can easily take opportunities like going to school for granted.

Here are some conversations starters that can cultivate gratitude:

  • What are some things that are easy to complain about, but we’re actually lucky to have? (For example, rainy days might spoil our plans but they help gardens grow and give animals water to drink).
  • What are some things that I didn’t have as a kid that you’re happy that you get to have?
  • What are some things that you don’t need, but you’re really happy that you have?
  • What are some things that you get to do that some other people might not be able—or allowed—to do?
  • What do you feel grateful for today?

Asking questions that cultivate gratitude—and making it a habit to help your child look on the bright side—is key to raising a child who feels thankful for what they have.

To Help Develop Imagination

After kids outgrow pretend play, their use of imagination can decline. You can help spark your child's creativity with a few simple questions.

Here are some creative conversation starters that will help your child be a bit more imaginative:

  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why would you choose it?
  • If you won $100, what would you do with it?
  • If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
  • If your pets could talk, what would they say?
  • What color do you think is the happiest? Why does it make you feel happy?

To Help Develop Empathy

Kids sometimes get caught up thinking that they’re the only person in the family (or world!) who matters. You can combat egocentrism by helping your child think more about others, as well as helping them to see from another person's point of view.

Here are some questions that can help your child develop empathy.

  • Did you have a chance to be kind to anyone today?
  • How do you think kids who do tease others feel about themselves? How do you think kids who get teased feel?
  • How do you think other people feel when you’re kind to them?
  • If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
  • Who gets teased at school? Why do they get teased? Does anyone ever stand up for the kids being teased?

To Help Develop Mental Strength

Kids can develop mental muscles as they learn how to manage their emotions, regulate their thoughts, and take positive action. While it’s important to give them regular exercises that build mental strength, asking targeted questions can also remind them of strategies to be mentally strong.

Here are some simple conversation starters that can help kids build mental strength:

  • How do you help yourself face your fears?
  • What feeling do you think is the most uncomfortable—embarrassment, anger, fear, or something else?
  • When your brain makes you think negative thoughts—such as ‘you’ll never succeed’ or ‘no one likes you?'—what are some things you can tell yourself to change these thoughts?

To Help Develop Ethical Thinking

Asking questions about ethical issues can help children get to know their values and develop morality. Here are a few conversation starters that can help your child think about and form their ethics.

  • If your friend forgets to bring lunch, should the other kids share with them?
  • Is it ever OK to ever cheat in school or sports?
  • Is there ever a time that it would be ok to steal from someone?

To Help Develop Confidence

It’s important for kids to recognize their talents, abilities, and skills. Asking questions that help them identify their strengths can help them realize they put their talents to good use.

Here are some conversation starters that can boost your child’s confidence:

  • How can you make a difference in the world?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What is something that you are good at?

To Help Develop Ambition

Young people sometimes have trouble thinking past the next five minutes, let alone thinking about the long-term and their future. Asking questions about what they want to have in their "grown-up" life helps children start envisioning the life they want to live.

Here are some conversation starters that can help your child think more about the future and develop the ambition to create the life they desire and reach their goals:

  • If you could achieve any goal, however impossible it seems, what would it be?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What is one thing you want to achieve before you finish school?
  • Where would you like to live someday? A house in the country, an apartment in the city, on a farm, in a mansion, in an RV that's always on the road, or somewhere else?

Keeping the Conversations Going

Questions and conversation starters should be natural, not an interrogation. If you rapidly fire questions at your child, they'll be more likely to get overwhelmed and shut down.

Limit "big questions" to one or two a day. Make the time to talk with your child about their thoughts and ideas, and show them that you’re interested in hearing what they have to say. Your child will relish your conversations together when they realize that you value their opinion—even when it’s different from your own.

9 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Communication and discipline.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Talking with your teen: tips for parents.

  3. King V, Boyd LM. Factors associated with perceptions of family belonging among adolescentsJ Marriage Fam. 2016;78(4):1114-1130. doi:10.1111/jomf.12322

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Components of good communication.

  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to practice gratitude and improve your family's mental health.

  6. Stevenson CE, Kleibeuker SW, de Dreu CK, Crone EA. Training creative cognition: adolescence as a flexible period for improving creativityFront Hum Neurosci. 2014;8:827. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00827

  7. American Psychological Association. What makes kids care? Teaching gentleness in a violent world.

  8. American Academy of Pediatrics. Building resilience in children.

  9. American Academy of Pediatrics. Creating positive experiences for school-age children.

Additional Reading

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.