20 Teen and Tween Conversation Starters

How was your day?

Fine.

How was school?

Good.

How was your test?

OK.

Anything you want to tell me?

Nope.

Now that its summer, a lot of parents and the families I work with are focusing on communication skills because we are finally done with school for a bit. The biggest problem is how to get us young people talking and engaged.

I find that some of the best ways to do this is to play games like Scrabble, Clue or Sorry that you can all engage over the common game. Or, as I recently discovered games that are all about talking. A friend recommended one called Kubit2Me, which, of course, anything that has to do with Teens I ordered immediately to play with my clients and my teen girl groups and it is fabulous! I got one for my sisters to play at their birthday party–a very good Truth or Dare section and have been using them with the families I coach. So, this post is inspired by the questions and responses I got from Kubit2Me group, thanks!

-Ask over dinner

-Ask over dessert

-Leave a few cards with questions in the car for long drives

-host a sleepover for your son/daughter and their friends and encourage them to play. (I think its great when teens can also play these kinds of games with each other because it deepens friendships and bonds–hard to come by in the social networking world!)

-Play at a family reunion

-Ask your adult friends (I do this with mine all the time–in between Wii games of course)

I came up with some and borrowed some from the cards–a few are a little mature, but I find those table topics get the best conversation going!

1. If you had to give every human being one quality, what would it be and why?

2. Do you have any recurring dreams? Describe them?

3. What is the meanest thing someone could say to you?

4. If you could be a famous athlete, actor, writer or musician which would you choose and why? (It is fun to guess what the other people in the group will say before divulging answers)!

5. If you were invisible where would you go and what would you do?

6. If your life was made into a movie, who would play you? why?

7. If you could invent one thing what would it be?

8. What is the greatest song ever written?

9. Do you believe in heaven? What does yours look like? Is it different for everyone?

10. What is the most important quality for a boss to have?

11. If you could know one thing about the future, what would it be?

12. DARE: Eat your favorite food, before you swallow spit it out and re-eat it (teens love playing the truth or Dare Kubit2Me and I don’t think I laughed so hard in a long time, this was my favorite one–and the grossest)

13. How do you choose your friends?

14. What is the first thing you notice about a person?

15. What do you think is the biggest problem in the United States and Why?

16. Describe the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

17. What would the cover of your autobiography look like if it could not be a picture of you or your family?

18. If you could trade places with anyone in the world who would it be and why? How about someone in your family?

19. Do you ever talk to yourself? When and what do you say?

20. Tell the group (or other person) the most attractive thing about the person on your right.

I really love to engage youth in intelligent conversations about values, ideals and goals. A lot of these questions are a sneaky way to get these ideas out in the open and I often play these games with the kids I work with to really get to know them. I hope you take sometime to play them with your kids, who knows you might learn something new about them!?

Add your conversation starters in the comments!

The Radical Family Workbook and Activity Journal is for Parents, Kids and Teens

Vanessa Van Petten and 20 of her teen interns wrote this family workbook to give parents real advice and bonding activities that will actually work! In this series, we put together 30 sessions worth of challenges and activities to help your family re-start, re-energize and re-connect.

In each session, families will get a set of challenges, materials and action steps to do for about 30 minutes. Families can work through the Radical Family Workbook at their own pace! You could do a session every day or one every three months! This is for families with children of all ages. Younger children can even participate in many of the activities and family bonding times.

If you liked this article get more Radical Parenting in our new book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?

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  • http://lve.com Djfrenkios

    you have a very nice community ,
    thank you for the valuable information.

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  • http://www.shapingyouth.org Shaping Youth

    I’m going to add Shaping Youth’s post on this subject using Table Topics too…You’re SO right about using open-ended questions vs. the pedantic rituals of the drive-home scene…Brava! Great job.
    Here’s mine to add to the mix:
    http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=800

  • http://www.conversationhelp.com/secret2blog.html Julia

    This was really interesting and taught me one things or two.

  • Vanessa Van Petten

    Thanks Julia!

  • teen

    i’m 16 myself (i found this site when i was searching for something else, and thought i would read it to see if my parents were using this on me muahaha :P)

    I just wanted to say that i think if anyone wants advice about teens and getting them to “open up to you” you should just ask them one question like “How was your day?” and see if a conversation starts up. If it doesn’t, just leave it, and stop asking questions. Don’t play any “communicating games” with them. Otherwise, they’ll learn that you ask way too many questions, and are way too nosy.
    I know that I open up to my parents best when they just ask one question. This way, I get bored of the silence, and I start talking to them. When they hound me with questions, or try to use any teen parenting tips or guides and things, I just feel embarrassed to be around them.
    I just wanted parents to be able to read this, and to hopefully NOT embarrass their teens! I have nothing against this article, I just want to save all of those teens from embarrassment, and hopefully improve your relationship! Remember: Do try and start a conversation, but don’t try too hard, or they will completely shut down.

  • http://www.giftsfortweengirls.com Cheryl Holmes- Tween Gifts

    I think I like question number 5 the most. A lot of teens would like to be invisible on a daily basis and by asking this question it may help them talk about any bullying that may be occurring or a kind deed they would like to do but, are too embarrassed to do it in front of others.

    Cheryl Holmes

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  • Yasmin

    this is a great site! keep it up!

  • Alex

    I host a yearly (Or bi yearly) Summer (Grade specified) Girl Camp BFF. This allows the girls to bond. My daughter is now in the 6th gr. & its tough. Many girls don’t like “Other Girls” & some girls feel caught in the middle. If you teach your child to engage in conversations, Ask the right questions & Always have an “Open Door Policy” as a parent, You would be surprised on what stuff they will tell you. I always ask my daugther about friendships – boys, etc.. even the tough questions like pubery, Be honest with them. They know when your lying. If you tell them the truth (Even if you have to lesson descriptions due to age & protect their young minds) they will continue to talk to you about the tough stuff. I always tell my daughter when she has a bad day “I have my friend ears on & am ready to hear you”. Now, Her friends & even when I am in their school, run up to me & call me their 2nd Mom. (& For those of you with Tween Girls out there” Do a over nighter camp. Get the books on issues – xerox them & Make them “Kits” invite the other moms to join in. You will be amazed what a better year the next one to come will be!

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  • Anonomous

    That was interesting!! It was funny too… yet some parts were gross!

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