Open-ended questions for kids are the perfect way to break the ice, start a conversation, and encourage critical thinking and communication skills.
At some point all parents reach a stage where it’s a struggle to get kids to talk.
We yearn to connect with our kids but instead our questions are typically met with one word answers.
It’s both sad and frustrating to try to begin a conservation with your child or teen only to be swiftly shut down.
“Did you have fun at Sarah’s house?”
While there could be a number of reasons why your child is reticent to open up, making an effort to ask open-ended questions can help.
Not only do these questions encourage further dialogue, they also play a crucial role in nurturing a child’s critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills. And the more kids are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions, the more practice they receive in effective communication.
Here, we’ll help you better understand what an open-ended question is and how best to identify if you’re asking one. We’ve also included over 100 suggested questions to get you strated.
What is an open-ended question for kids?
An open-ended question for kids encourages them to provide thoughtful, detailed, and creative responses rather than simple one-word answers. These questions require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. They invite children to think and share their ideas, opinions, and feelings and foster critical thinking and communication skills.
Closed-ended questions, on the other hand, typically have one correct or predetermined answer. In other words, they’re fairly easy to answer without requiring much thought and can be typically be answered in one word or acknowledgment.
Why are open-ended questions beneficial for kids?
Open-ended questions are valuable for several reasons. They stimulate active engagement, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
They also promote language development, vocabulary expansion, and communication skills. Moreover, open-ended questions empower children to express themselves, build self-confidence, and feel heard and valued.
In educational settings, open-ended questions are commonly used by teachers to promote class discussions, facilitate learning, and assess students’ comprehension. They encourage students to think deeply about a topic and articulate their thoughts, which contributes to a more enriching and dynamic learning experience.
5 words that typically start an open ended question
One easy way to tell if the question you’re asking your child is open-ended is by the beginning word.
Open-ended questions often begin with words like “what,” “how,” “why,” “describe,” or “tell me about.” They prompt kids to reflect, elaborate, and explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
For example, instead of asking, “Did you have fun at the park today?” which can lead to a simple “yes” or “no” response, you could ask, “What was your favorite part of the park today, and why did you enjoy it?” This encourages the child to share specific details and explain their feelings.
When to ask kids open-ended questions
The best time to ask children open-ended questions is when you have their full attention – or at least most of their attention.
For example, a car ride can be the perfect time to initiate a discussion with your child. Unless their immersed in their phone, there’s little else for a child or teen to do than chat.
Dinner time can be another perfect occasion to ask open-ended questions. And if the whole family is eating together, one question can spark a great discussion.
Need a few prompts to get your family dinner conversation started? These 125+ Family Conversation Cards can help. Each one contains a lighthearted question any family member can answer. Kids will have fun learning more about you and you’re bound to discover something you didn’t know about your kids. Click here or the image below to learn more and get your own set.
100+ open ended questions for kids
To help you begin to think of open-ended questions you could ask your children, we’ve included a few suggestions below.
- What’s your favorite thing about today?
- If you could be any animal for a day, which one would you choose?
- What do you like to do when you have free time?
- What’s the best book you’ve ever read, and why?
- If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
- What makes you feel happy?
- What’s something you’re really good at?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
- What’s your favorite memory from a family trip or vacation?
- What do you think makes a person a good friend?
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?
- If you could invent something, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite season, and what do you like about it?
- What does it mean to be kind?
- What’s something you’re curious about and want to learn more about?
- If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
- How do you show someone you care about them?
- What’s your favorite way to be creative?
- What’s the most delicious meal you’ve ever had?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and what would you ask them?
- What do you like to daydream about?
- How do you think the world will be different when you’re grown up?
- What’s something you wish you could change about the world?
- If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?
- What’s your favorite song, and what do you like about it?
- What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
- What makes you feel proud of yourself?
- If you could design your own school, what would it be like?
- What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
- How would you describe your perfect day?
- What does it mean to be a good citizen?
- If you could time travel, where and when would you go?
- What’s your favorite way to help others?
- What’s the most important thing in the world to you?
- If you could have a magical adventure, what would it be like?
- How do you like to relax and unwind?
- What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
- If you could solve one big problem in the world, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite thing about your family?
- What do you think makes someone brave?
- What’s your favorite color, and why do you like it?
- If you could explore space, where would you go in the universe?
- What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s something you’d like to teach others?
- If you could be invisible for a day, how would you spend it?
- What’s the most interesting animal in the world, in your opinion?
- What’s your favorite form of art, and why?
- What’s something you’ve always wanted to ask your parents or caregivers?
- If you could make a new holiday, what would it be about?
- What do you think is the best way to solve conflicts between people?
- What’s your favorite type of weather, and why?
- If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite thing to do with your friends?
- What’s something you think is truly unique about you?
- If you could explore the depths of the ocean, what would you hope to find?
- What’s your favorite way to express yourself?
- If you could plant a garden, what kind of flowers or plants would you choose?
- What’s your favorite fairy tale, and why do you like it?
- What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen in nature?
- If you could create a new flavor of ice cream, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite smell in the world, and what does it remind you of?
- What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life so far?
- If you could go back in time and give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
- What’s the most valuable possession you have, and why is it important to you?
- If you could have a conversation with an alien from another planet, what would you ask them?
- What’s your favorite holiday, and how do you like to celebrate it?
- What’s the most fascinating thing about outer space to you?
- If you could have a magical day where anything is possible, what would you do?
- What do you think is the key to a happy life?
- What’s your favorite sport, and what do you enjoy about it?
- If you could visit any time in history, when and where would you go?
- What’s your favorite way to use your imagination?
- What’s the best way to make a new friend?
- If you could be a character in a story, who would you be, and what would you do?
- What’s your favorite type of music, and how does it make you feel?
- What’s the most important quality a person can have, in your opinion?
- If you could have a magical wardrobe, what would be inside it?
- What’s the most exciting thing you hope to do in the future?
- What’s your favorite thing about nature?
- If you could learn any new skill, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite constellation, and what does it look like to you?
- What’s something that always makes you smile?
- If you could be a character in a video game, which one would you choose?
- What’s your favorite way to learn something new?
- What’s the most interesting thing you know about a different culture?
- If you could travel through time to visit your ancestors, who would you want to meet?
- What’s the most amazing thing about the human body to you?
- What’s your favorite type of movie, and why do you like it?
- If you could have a conversation with an animal, what would you ask them?
- What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s your favorite way to show gratitude?
- If you could explore a hidden treasure, where would you look for it?
- What’s the most beautiful sound in the world to you?
- What’s your favorite board game, and what’s your strategy to win?
- If you could have a time capsule, what would you put in it to represent your life?
- What’s the most amazing thing you’ve learned about the natural world?
- What’s your favorite thing to do when it’s raining?
- What’s your favorite toy and why?
- If you could make a new law, what would it be about?
- What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever been to?
- What’s your favorite way to celebrate your birthday?
- If you could have a magical object that could grant one wish, what would you wish for?
- What’s your favorite subject in school?
- If you could be a superhero who would you be?
- What’s your favorite TV show and why?
What to do next…
1. Subscribe to Self-Sufficient Kids’ email list.
Like what you read here and want to learn more? Every Thursday I’ll send you one parenting tip about raising self-sufficient kids and creating the peaceful relationship you yearn to have with your child. Click here to sign up.
2. Take one of my quizzes!
Find out if you’re raising a self-sufficient kid (click here) or if you’re doing too much for your kids (click here). At the end of each quiz, you’ll be asked to provide your email address to see the results.
3. Get your kids started on chores.
Learn how to get your child started on chores (& keep them motivated + avoid power struggles) by enrolling in my Get Your Kids Successfully Started on Chores course. Click here to learn more and sign-up.
About Kerry Flatley
Hi! I’m Kerry, the mother of two girls and a certified parent educator. I believe it is possible for parents to have a supportive, loving, and warm relationship with their kids while raising them to be independent and ultimately self-sufficient. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books and articles that support this belief and I’ve put these ideas into practice with my own kids. Read more about me and Self-Sufficient Kids here.