ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top 5 Ways to Use Open Ended Questions with Children

Updated on June 30, 2011

Using open ended questions for children is a great way to get them talking at the dinner table. Instead of getting the standard yes or no answer from your kids, you can get a lot more information with open ended questions. Examples can be found online or with prepackaged sets of questions such as Table Topics, found at specialty boutique stores or online. Having a good supply of open ended questions to ask children can go a long way toward opening up long term, meaningful communication between adults and children. 

Click here for a list of open ended questions.

#1 – Get to Know Your Kids

Open ended questions go a long way toward creating long lasting interactive communication between parents and their children. While there are time you need to simply get an answer from your child, far more often you can use common open ended questions to really understand the way your child thinks—not to mention deeper insight into his or her dominant personality traits.

Here are a few get to know you questions for kids to get you started:

  • Do you ever have a dream that comes back over and over? If so, what is it like?
  • What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
  • If you could trade lives with somebody you know, who would it be?

#2 – Encourage Preschoolers to Open Up and Use Their Imaginations

It’s never too early to engage your child in meaningful conversation through open ended questions. Early childhood is the perfect time to start this method of communication. Not only will you get to know your child better, you may get some valuable quotes for the family scrapbook.

Some open ended questions to get very young children talking:

  • What is the grossest thing you can think of?
  • How do you describe me to your friends?
  • What do you think is beyond the stars?

#3 – Start Dinner Conversation

In our family we use Table Topics at the dinner table to get the kids talking about their day. Using a structured open-ended question is also helpful because to the kids, it’s not coming from Mom and Dad, it’s coming from the box.

We started this practice after I read and used the book Once a Month cooking, which has a list of dinner table questions in the back. The kids have gotten so used to this meal time ritual that they really miss it when we skip a night.

#4 – Get Children to Tell You About Their Day at School

Open-ended invite kids to imagine, elaborate, and tell stories. You'll get more information and get to know your child better when you ask open-ended questions. They let children think and solve problems. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think of standardized testing?
  • If you were the teacher, how would you explain algebra/gravity/nouns?
  • If you were the principal of your school, what would you do first?

#5 – Encourage Teenagers to Talk After a Date

There’s no better time than after a date to get your teenager to interact with you. While there are time you need to simply get an answer from your child, far more often you can use common open ended questions to really understand the way your child thinks about sex and dating. If you can get your kids talking while doing something where they don’t have to look you in the eye—eating or watching TV—even better. They will often give you more information than they intend!

Here are a few get to know you questions for kids to get you started:

  • What was the best thing about your date tonight?
  • Describe your perfect date?
  • If you could go out with anyone at your school, who would it be and why?

For more samples of open ended questions see the article, Top 50 Open Ended Questions For Sparking Conversation With Kids.

Image Credit: roland.lakis, Flickr


Submit a Comment
  • Robin profile image

    Robin Edmondson 

    8 years ago from San Francisco

    Great Hub! We have a thumbs up, thumbs down session at the dinner table at night. We all get to give our highlights of the day and also things that didn't go so well. It's funny to hear our two year old chime in. We get so caught up in the logistics, it's nice for us to have this time for the kids to talk about their day.

  • profile image

    Eric Pinola 

    9 years ago

    This is an awesome read!

    Thank you; I have been in sales all my life and something like this is just part of my nature. BUT if not for my sales background I would never have thought about it.

    great topic!

    Kids are like flowers, they are willing to open up if the conditions are right.

    Eric P.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    At, the source for kid-friendly answers on how the world works, we partner with qualified experts to help parents talk about all subjects with kids ages 4-7 from "Why is the sky blue?" to "Where do babies come from?" - check us out!

  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 

    9 years ago from UK

    This is a real education, thank you. Wish I knew all these before my kids grew up :-)

  • billyaustindillon profile image


    9 years ago

    Great conversation starters for all the family and to specifically empower the children and aid positive, confident communication.

  • Journey * profile image

    Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

    9 years ago from USA

    Hi Lela, These are great questions to get kids to start talking. Thanks for sharing.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)