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Questions to Ask Your Child to Encourage Them to Open Up

Do you get stuck having the same one-word conversations with your toddler or preschooler? It can be difficult to get children to open up. Asking fun, child-friendly questions can spark an engaging conversation that can help strengthen your connection with your child. We’ve provided some ideas to get you started.

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Benefits of Open Conversations

Having open conversations with your child benefits you both in many different ways. They can help you strengthen your bond with your child, and this deepened connection can positively impact your emotional well-being. Engaging in open-ended conversations can help your child develop their language and communication skills, as well as improve their ability to express themselves and understand others. These types of conversations encourage children to think deeply, explore various perspectives, and develop problem-solving abilities. Actively listening to and engaging with your child helps create a safe space for them to express their ideas and emotions, which is beneficial for their mental health.

Setting the Stage

Choosing a moment when your child is calm and open can make for an excellent time to invite a conversation. Relaxed settings such as during meals, before bedtime, or while taking a walk together offer great opportunities for engaging in meaningful discussions. You can also try including deeper conversations during one of your established routines.

A key to helping your child open up is to ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, “What was your favorite part of your day today?” or “When did you feel the happiest today?” When they answer, do your best to give them your full attention and listen to their thoughts without interrupting. You can show them you’re listening and care about their experiences by acknowledging and validating your child's feelings. You can try words of encouragement like, “That sounds like it was really hard for you, and I’m proud of you for trying!” 

When chatting with your toddler or preschooler, the conversation is likely to go all over the place, and that’s OK! Feel free to let their curiosity guide the conversation. As you give your child the time and space they need to express their thoughts without pressure or judgment, they’ll likely continue to open up more and more.

These conversations can also be a great way for your child to get to know you a little better. Feel free to share some of your own experiences about your day using child-friendly language. It can help create an open environment for your child and encourage them to do the same.

Open-Ended Questions to Ask Your Child

This list of questions is designed to help spark a great conversation with your child. Try out any that you think might appeal to your child:

  1. What was the best part of your day today?

  2. What makes you feel really warm and happy inside?

  3. What do you think your stuffed animals dream about at night?

  4. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?

  5. What do you like the most about school or daycare?

  6. If you could spend a whole day doing anything you want, what would you do?

  7. Tell me about a time you felt proud of something you did.

  8. If you met someone from another planet, what would you want to show them on Earth?

  9. What's your favorite thing to do outside, and why do you like it?

  10. If you could change the color of the sky, what color would you choose and why?

Quick Tip: You can turn your question-asking into a fun game! Write some open-ended questions on pieces of paper, place them in a bowl, and ask your child to pull one out. You can even take turns pulling questions out of the bowl.

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