Our kids are the greatest joy in life but knowing what to talk about can be a challenge for any parent. Here are some tips to get the conversation started.

We bring them into this world, but what to talk about with them? (We do have to talk to them, right?) Where to start can be a big question. If you pepper them with questions, they may get salty. We have gathered some of the best tips on topics and things to talk about with your kids. Read on to get the conversation started. 

We talk at them all the time, but do we talk to them? Do they listen? Are we actively listening to them when they talk to us? Having active and open communication with our children is important, of course, but as parents how do we initiate a conversation without being a total drag?

What To Talk About

Conversation starters can be tricky for people at any stage in life, for a myriad of reasons. Even more relevant, not everybody has a knack for talking to young people – even their own family members. Begin with thinking about what your child likes; what are their hobbies and interests? Who are their friends? Do they like school, or do they struggle there?

A great conversation starter could be anything that you have in common. Perhaps you like the same sport or you recently watched the same movie? Every conversation you have with your children does not have to be heavy with meaning and influence. There is nothing wrong with beginning with a simple, “how was your day?” People like knowing that you care about their lives; even tiny people.

Conversation Starters

You do not have to be a complete “helicopter parent” in order to take an interest in your child’s life. And in taking that interest, you are leading by example. Teaching them that taking an active interest in what other people do and think all day, is an important part of life.

Here are some questions to help you show them your interest:

  • What is your favorite thing to do at recess?  
  • What do you like about your new class/teacher/coach?
  • Which friends did you sit with at lunch?
  • How is (your friend) today?
  • Did you learn anything new and fancy?

Here are some more great starters from Day Out with the Kids via YouTube.

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Use Your Imagination

While you’re thinking of what to talk about, don’t be afraid to ask silly questions. Have some fun! There is nothing like discovering that your kiddo has a golden sense of humor, and laughing together brings people closer.

Here are some questions that could get your family laughing together:

  • What should we do if we had $1,000,000?
  • If you could be any animal in the world for a day, what would you be and why?
  • What do you think you would you do all day if you were the President or Prime Minister?
  • If our dog could speak to humans, what do you think they would say?
  • What was the last funny joke you heard?
  • Whom do you think is the coolest person in the world?
  • What job would you never like to have?

What to Talk About? In All Seriousness…

Sometimes parents have to ask serious questions. It’s in the job description. This is rarely ever fun but when all is screamed and done it is an important thing to do. If you’ve spent time asking your child more day-to-day questions and listening to their answers, they will be more receptive when the time comes to discuss the serious stuff.

Here are some questions that can really help open some serious communication with your child:

  • Do you feel like you can talk to me about anything?
  • In what ways do I embarrass you?
  • What is something important that I have taught you?
  • What do you think makes a good parent?
  • Do you think you will get married one day?
  • What is something you would change about the world?

When Is the Right Time?

Knowing what to talk about is often easier than finding time to talk. Setting aside time for conversations with your kids is often harder than it should be. We work long hours, or are overscheduled, or we live with a limited amount of spoons. There are so many reasons, because the kids may be under the same hectic scheduling. There are some ways that you can help your family find time to have a conversation:

  • Unplugged time. When life gets busy you may need to resort to making time for conversation. Schedule a specific time the whole family unplugs. Like, phones and tv go off at dinnertime, for example.
  • Talking around the dinner or breakfast table is always a popular idea. Everyone loves a good meal and good conversation. 
  • In the car is a good place, as well. You’re both already seated and in close proximity, and no one can get up and walk away. 
  • Going for a walk and having a talk is a good way to get out of the house and get in a bit of exercise is good, as well. 

Don’t Forget to Be a Good Listener

Listening builds trust. This cannot be overstated. As time goes on and your child grows, they will be more likely to trust and confide in you if they feel like you are there to actively listen to them.  Bear in mind that — if your young’un is quick to talk — you could be in for some excruciatingly dull and lengthy recitations about the wonders of Minecraft or the cultural significance of Five Nights at Freddy’s. This is a gift in disguise of tedium. Your child is more likely to talk to you if they feel listened to.

Talking to children can seem awkward at times, but awkward interactions are a part of parenting that we have to take. The most important thing is to make our children feel like we care about them and are interested in what they think and do. The best we can do to illustrate this is to open our mouths and start a conversation.

And for those of you with teenagers, here’s a video with Dr. Adriana Galván’s Ted Talk on the Teenage Brain.

Featured image: CC BY 2.0 US Dept. of Education via Flickr.

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