By Carol Cuppy
As parents, our schedules are usually packed with things to do and places to go. It can be so easy to rush from one thing to the next, causing us to miss out on opportunities to connect with our children. Talking to our children is a chance to get to know the depths of who they are and watch them learn and grow.
Having intentional conversations with our children demonstrates steadfast love and encourages them to share their triumphs and challenges with us. It is a beautiful opportunity for us as parents to show our children that we are listening to them and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Asking our children questions is a wonderful way to teach them and help them grow. Inviting your children into the conversation can create a solid foundation of trust and love for the rest of their lives. One of the best times to start these conversations is at the dinner table.
Starting conversations with your children
Starting a conversation with your children, however, can sometimes be easier said than done. Many questions that parents ask their children can easily be shut down with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. It’s important that we ask our children open-ended questions that leave plenty of room for them to answer and elaborate.
It’s also important to make the questions fun and interactive. One way to do this might be to get a large jar. Have your children help decorate it. Then, on colourful slips of paper, write out all of the questions you can think of that might start a good conversation. Fill the jar with the questions and at dinner time each night, have your children take turns drawing a question out of the jar. The question of the meal can then become a family discussion. This can be a fun and interactive way to get your children excited and engaged about having conversations with the whole family.
Remember, the sky is the limit when it comes to what questions you might choose to ask your children. The questions can be tailored to your child’s individual interests. For instance, if they are interested in superheroes, or certain book/movie characters, or cars — you can word your questions to reflect that interest.
40 questions to ask your children
To get you started, here are 40 questions to ask your children around the dinner table:
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you laugh?
- What is your favourite food?
- What is the funniest face you can make?
- If you could be an animal for one day, what animal would you be?
- What is your favourite thing to do?
- Who is your best friend?
- What are you really good at?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- Which story that grandma or grandpa tells is your favourite?
- If you had one superpower, what would it be?
- Who is your favourite Disney princess or superhero and why?
- If your pets and/or stuffed animals could talk, what would they say?
- What is your favourite book?
- If you have a genie that could grant 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
- What would you do if you swapped roles with Mum or Dad?
- If you wrote a book, what would it be about? Who would the characters be?
- What did you do to help someone else today?
- How did you see someone showing kindness to another person today?
- What do you like best about your brother or sister?
- If you were a superhero, what would your name be and what powers would you have?
- Would you rather travel back in time or travel into the future?
- If you could meet anyone from history, who would you want to meet?
- If you grew up to be famous, what would you like to be famous for?
- If you had to go live on a space station for a month, what three things would you take with you?
- What is the funniest joke you’ve ever heard?
- Is there anything you really want to talk about that we haven’t discussed?
- When do you feel most proud of who you are?
- If you could invent something, what would it be? What would your invention do?
- If you had a thousand ringgit to help someone, what would you do?
- What is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?
- If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- If you joined the circus, what circus act would you be?
- What is your dream vacation?
- If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
- If you were a photographer for a day, who or what would your subject be?
- What is your favourite family tradition?
- If you had to live in another country for a year, which country would it be and why?
- If you could have lunch with anyone — living or deceased — who would it be and why?
- What do you think college would be like?
Having conversations with our children is critical for building a solid foundation of trust, demonstrating steadfast love, and teaching them how to grow as a young person. These 40 questions to ask your children are a great starting point for conversations around the dinner table. What other questions can you come up with to ask your children?
© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.