How can I get this kid to talk to me?

Parents and therapists alike ask themselves this question.  Our attempts at helping kids and teens open up often make us feel like dentists pulling teeth.  We often barrage them with questions – How was your day?  What are you thinking about?  How do you feel about ____?

But the thing is, that’s not how kids tend to communicate.  Children very rarely ask each other questions. They tell stories, make observations, and talk about themselves.  Questions are very adult-y, and they often make kids feel defensive.  So, keep in mind that a barrage of questions may cause your child to clam up.

That being said, questions (when used sparingly!) can help you understand and connect with children.  As a therapist who works with kids, I have a few go-to questions that I use to break the ice and help my kiddos process on a deeper level.

So, here are my top 20 questions to help you connect with your kids:

  1. If you could give $1 million to charity, which would you choose?
  2. What is the awesomest thing that ever happened to you?
  3. What do you know how to do that you could teach to others?
  4. If you could be any sound, what would it be?  Why?
  5. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
  6. Who do you think understands you best in the whole world?
  7. If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would it be, and why?
  8. What’s the most amazing thing you saw someone do recently?  What did you appreciate about it?
  9. What do you think your life might be like in the future?  (Or, what do you think the future will be like?)
  10. How would you change the world, if you could?
  11. If your stuffed animals (or toys) could talk, what might they say?
  12. If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
  13. If you could build your own mansion, what would you want to have in it?
  14. What’s the funniest word you know? (Or, what’s the most boring word you know?)
  15. What five words best describe you? (Or, what five words totally donotdescribe you?)
  16. If you could grow up to be famous for something, what would you want to be famous for?
  17. If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what would that rule be?
  18. What is your spirit animal and why?
  19. If you could be transported into a book, movie, or video game, what would you choose? Why?
  20. If you had one superpower or magical ability, what would you want that to be? Why?

By: Dr. Kyler Shumway, Deep Eddy Psychotherapy

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