8 Types of Questions that Can Get Your Teen to Open Up

Ask questions that will get your teen talking.
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Although lots of teens seem to have endless things to say to their friends (as evidenced by their non-stop desire to chat over social media and text message), they’re often at a loss for words when asked a question by their parents. But sometimes, that’s because parents are asking the wrong kinds of questions.

Ask your teen, “Did you have fun at the dance tonight,” and you’re most likely going to hear, “Yep,” without any details.

And when you ask, “How was your day at school today?” you’ll likely hear something like, “Fine,” in return.

The key to getting teens to talk is to ask open-ended questions. But you need to ask them in a way that your teen doesn’t feel like he’s being interrogated. Here are 8 types of questions that can help spark a meaningful conversation with your teen:

1. What Do You Think About…?

Ask for your teen’s opinion about current events, books, or movies. Gain your teen’s insights on specific characters in a TV show or find out where your teen stands on certain social issues. Ask questions like, “What do you think about that commercial?” and you’ll encourage critical thinking.

2. Would You Rather…?

Giving your teen two choices can be a good way to start a conversation. Ask something like, “Do you think you’d rather go to college or start a business right after high school?” Give your teen an opportunity to explain his answer.

You can also ask silly questions, like, “Would you rather be stuck in an elevator with a porcupine or a skunk?” Getting a few laughs can be a good ice breaker.

3. What Did You Notice…?

Simply ask for your teen’s observations sometimes. Ask questions like, “Did you notice anything interesting in the restaurant tonight?” You never know what your teen might say.

4. What Would You Do Differently…?

Rather than lecture your teen and tell him how he could have made a better choice, ask questions that encourage him to reflect. For example, ask, “If you could go back to the beginning of the school year and start over, what would you do differently?”

5. Who are The People Who…?

Ask questions that give you insight into who influences your teen. Sometimes friends, family members, coaches, teachers, or even celebrities can play a bigger role in your teen’s life than you may imagine. Ask something like, “Who is someone you’d like to be like when you’re an adult?”

6.  What are Your Favorite…?

Get to know your teen’s favorite things. Ask about anything from your teen’s favorite color to his favorite dessert. Keep in mind that teen’s opinions often change and the things he may have liked a few years ago, may no longer top his list of favorite things.

7. What’s a Time When…?

Asking your teen to recall a time from the past is another way to encourage some simple reflection.

Questions like, “What’s a time when you felt really proud of yourself?” could be a way to help your teen pay more attention to his emotions or times when he made critical decisions in his life.

8. What Do You Envision…?

Ask about your teen’s hopes and dreams for the future too. Inquire about what type of life your teen wants to live as an adult, such as, “What type of job do you envision having,” or “Where would you like to live someday?”

Keep the Conversations Going

Getting your teen to open up requires your teen to feel safe sharing his opinion. Refrain from passing judgement or lecturing, but instead show genuine curiosity in your teen’s ideas and opinions. Use reflective listening and validate your teen’s feelings and your teen will be more likely to keep talking. 

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