Best conversational starters for children
Best conversational starters for children
We have all struggled with starting a conversation. This has happened in various situations such as parties, meetings, reunions, etc. We may struggle to start a conversation with a colleague, new friend, our date, or kids. The most difficult of this population is kids. I have seen therapists, as well as parents, face this difficulty. I am often asked, what are some of the conversational starters for kids?
Let me tell you why this is difficult. Firstly, kids go through a myriad of emotions. They may answer you with a simple yes/no or good/bad without expanding it. This is because they feel; there is no need to expand the answer. Secondly, this difficulty varies with age and personality types. It is difficult to find the right topic for introverts and adolescents. Adolescents and teenagers tend to avoid or give one-word answers.
What are conversational starters?
In simple terms, these are topics, statements, or open-ended questions to start a conversation. For example ‘what do you want to be when you grow up? This is a conversation starter.
Why do we need conversational starters?
There are several reasons:
- We know our kids at the back of our hands. We know their likes and dislikes. But children are constantly changing and evolving. Thus, we need to keep ourselves updated to hook them up for a chat.
- To get to know them better. These conversations can show you the deep thinking of your child. How they process various complex emotions and their critical thinking.
- This will pave the way for open communication in the future.
- You are teaching them social skills. How to initiate a conversation with them.
- It helps in breaking the ice. Hence, setting the stage for meaningful conversation.
- Some kids are reluctant to talk. This gets them talking as well.
- They develop various skills such as imagination, empathy, confidence, gratitude, etc.
Some tips before you start:
- Make sure you are not starting the conversation when they are hungry, sad, or during their playtime.
- Find the right place and time.
- Don’t ask one-word questions. For instance, how was your school? How was the lunch?
- Ask open-ended questions. For instance, what was your favorite part of the day?
- Remove distractions
- Make this talking time a habit.
- Keep an idea of what’s going on with their life. For example, is your child talking with their best friend or not, etc.
- Stir clear of questions that have right or wrong answers. Your child may be judged.
- Take up topics of their interest. Make conversation deeper with those topics.
- Ask a specific question instead of a general.
- Share your stories as well to break the ice.
- Don’t stress if the conversation is not flowing freely.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Be more loving and supportive.
Different types of conversational starters with examples:
What if questions: These are great to get them thinking. Imagine different scenarios and problem-solving. Here are some examples. You can come up with more taking into account your child’s interests. For example, if they are interested in flowers, what if all flowers are green? What if flowers were super tall? Etc.
- What if you were a bird?
- What if there was no TV?
- Give me 3 things that would happen if there were dinosaurs right now.
- A guide to forming these questions is
- What if (something) was not there or there
- If (something) was add adjective (tall, short, big, small, wet, etc)
- What if (something) was add shape
- If (something) was add color
- What if (something) was add a skill, walk, talk, etc.
Questions to address emotions:
Questions will target different emotions such as empathy, and gratitude. This will develop a better understanding. How to handle emotions? Get in touch with their emotions, if they have been putting it off. It will develop critical thinking and reasoning. Why do some people feel the way they do.
- What are you most proud of today or in your life?
- Most important thing/person in your life
- What are you happiest about today or in your life?
- How do you face your fears?
- How do you show someone you love them?
- What feelings come and go? What stays?
- Tell me about a time you were kind to someone
- What are you grateful for today?
Questions about favorites
These are easy to think of. But you can go deeper with these questions.
- What’s your favorite thing about (superhero)?
- Why do you think people have likes and dislikes?
- What will you do if your favorite toy broke?
- What will you do if you meet your favorite superhero?
- What’s your favorite thing about your school, family, etc.
Would you rather questions
These are fun. You will know their choices. You can make it open-ended by asking why.
- Would you rather sleep all day or eat all and why?
- Would you rather eat your least favorite vegetable or do homework all day?
- They can ask you would you rather questions as well
- Make it funny or serious.
Do you think or thinking questions? These will promote critical thinking.
- Do you think it is important to be rich?
- Do you think we can go an entire day without talking?
- If you could change one thing about (___), what would it be?
- Do you get more excited on your birthday or your best friend’s birthday and why?
- Do you think it would be fun to be famous?
Some fun questions to break the ice
- If you can be a vegetable, which one would you want to be and why?
- If your teacher was secretly an animal, what do you think they would be and why?
- Who had a better day today – your eyes, ears, or your feet?
- If our pets could talk, what would they say?
- If you were a sharpener, what would you do?
You can ask them general questions about their day, school, or friends. Make it a deeper conversation. You can do this by making the questions open-ended. For instance, what did you like about your day today? What made you mad today?
To conclude, if your child does not want to talk; don’t force him/her. Try again another time with a different approach. Remember to have patience as they think their answers or are not ready to talk more. If you are still facing issues or concerns. You should consult a speech therapist. Also, talk to their teacher and pediatrician. Get help if you feel the behavior is atypical. But most importantly do not give up.
If you wish to know more about Speech-Language Therapy,
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