When she was younger our 10 year old was a chatterbox, eager to share the stories of her day. Nowadays, she would rather get lost in the quiet pages of a good book than talk to me after a busy day at school, and so I bide my time until she is ready to tell me how she went with her day at school. But you know, I’d do almost anything to get back to those days of continual chatter.
Over the years, I’ve learned some valuable lessons in initiating a post-school conversation with my tween that are more likely to increase my success rate on any give day when combined with some tween specific conversation starters. I hope you find them helpful.
5 Ways to Encourage Your Tween to Open Up and Talk To You
1. Choose your moment: When your child feels at ease, he/she is more likely to open up. For tweens and teens, car rides can provide the opportune moment as they feel less under the spotlight when you are concentrating on driving (make the car a device free zone if necessary). Alternatively make time to do something together that your tween enjoys.
2. Check their mood: If your child is over tired, clearly moody or struggling after a hard day, wait it out. There is no point trying to get your child talking if they are not ready. Be available, be patient and be watchful for a mood shift or when they come to you ready to talk.
3. Listen more, lecture less: As hard as it can be to keep our thoughts to ourselves, our tweens and teens don’t need or want us to solve their problems. Learn to listen without having all the answers or solutions. Give your child the space and support to come to their own conclusions.
4. Tell your own stories: As much as they’ll act like they’re not interested, your kids enjoy hearing your stories too, especially those from your childhood. It helps them to feel more connected to their family history which is important for the developing sense of self that is so critical to the tween years. Your stories can also communicate a greater empathy to your child, when you share a situation from your own experience that relates to a situation your child is in.
5. Ask the right questions: Simply asking ‘How was your day?’ will more often than not result in a surly grunt or a one word “Fine.” Using a more specific or creative question will often elicit more information from your tween. Below you’ll find 24 questions to help support your child to open up about school.
Have children in the early years of elementary or primary school? Check out our collection of school day questions for younger kids.
24 Conversation Starters for Talking With Tweens and Teens
- At school, what do you wish you could do more of?
- At school, what do you wish you did less of?
- Which class do you think would be the most fun to teach?
- Who could you be nicer to?
- What is the most important part of school?
- What is one thing you learned today?
- Who did you eat lunch with today?
- What do you wish you could learn at school?
- Are you reading anything enjoyable right now?
- Is bullying a problem in your school?
- What music have you been enjoying recently?
- Which teacher helps you the most?
- What is the best comeback to say to a bully?
- How would you rate the quality of your friendships?
- Do you wish you could change anything about your friendship group?
- What was the hardest part of today?
- What would make you feel more supported?
- What is everyone talking about at school?
- What do you wish you’d done differently today?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate today?
- Which class or subject did you enjoy most today?
- What made you laugh today?
- What was the most challenging part of your day?
- When were you bored today?
These are also available as printable cards (find the download details below). You could print a copy and choose a card to invite conversation at the dinner table.
Once you’ve printed your conversation cards, you might also like to print a copy of this fun Would You Rather conversation game. It’s a great way to get the whole family talking.
Printing Your Conversation Starters
Click here to download. This will open a PDF document. Download or save the PDF to your own computer. Open the PDF and print the page you require. When printing, select “Fit to printable area” (or similar) to ensure the page fits with your printer type and local paper size (these have been created at A4 size). I suggest printing onto card stock or matte photo paper. Laminate the printed cards for durability.
Having trouble accessing or downloading the file? Please try a different internet browser.
Please note: All Childhood 101 printables are for personal use only, you may not use any part of this content for commercial purposes-that includes selling the document, giving it away to promote your business or website, or printing the file to sell. You may not share, loan or redistribute these documents. Teachers may use multiple copies for students in their own classroom.