Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin
Conversation starters for kids and teens are a key tool to developing natural social skills that work in any environment. Adults with great social skills often struggle to teach these to their kids. After all, It is hard to teach what we didn’t have to learn!
I had terrible social skills growing up and had to intentionally learn them. It is my hope that I can help you use what I learned to help your own kids and teens.
Growing up, my social experiences were something like Groundhogs Day. This would happen OVER & OVER! I would walk into a room full of people (at school, church or a large family gathering), scan the room for a friendly familiar face and then find a chair in the corner or back of the room where I would plop down. If I was lucky, I had remembered a book and would immediately crack it open and appear very engaged in its pages. Sometimes I was interested in the book, but most of the time it was my social safety net.
Sometimes I would see someone else sitting alone and go sit with them, but most of the time, I sat alone and waited for someone else to come sit with me. It was an awkward cycle. I wanted people to like me but I didn’t know how to join in or feared I would say the wrong thing.
As it turns out, I didn’t know that one key to having great conversations is a ready list of questions. I would usually wait for the other person to ask the questions but didn’t have any of my own. So after a handful of questions, the conversation would drop. I didn’t know how to keep it going.
As it turns out, conversations are a lot like tossing a ball. You Talk…I Talk…You Talk….I Talk. If I have nothing to say, then it’s time to ask another question and keep this conversation moving.
Researchers are discovering that the value of social skills goes beyond making friends. Social skills have a direct correlation on a student’s academic experience as well as their social experience outside the classroom.
The key to great conversations is having a ready list of questions handy so you can keep asking interesting questions about any topic really. The questions in each category start off very basic and progressively ask for more opinions or dreaming.
Table of Contents
135 Conversation Starters for Kids and Teens by Category
What is Your Name?
Do You Live Around Here?
Where Are You From?
Who do you live with?
Do you have any brothers & sisters? Are they older or younger?
What do you like to do with your brothers/sisters?
Tell Me About Yourself. What Are You Really Good At?
Which sibling are you closest to? Why?
What is your favorite thing that you do with your siblings.
Where Do You Go to School?
Do you like school? Why or why not?
Who is your teacher?
What is your favorite subject? Why?
What is your least favorite subject? Why?
What subject do you wish they taught at school?
What is the best/worst thing about your school?
Do you want to go to college when you graduate?
What do you want to study?
Do you play any sports?
What sports do you play?
Who taught you how to play?
How long have you played ___________________(name of sport)?
Are you good at _________________(sport?)
Are there any sports you would like to try?
Why do you like _________________(sport)?
What have you learned about life through sports?
How do you feel about yourself when you win/lose?
How do you feel about the other team when they win/lose?
Have you ever quit a sport? Why?
Hobbies & Freetime Questions
Do you have any hobbies?
How did you learn how to ________________(hobby)?
What is your favorite part of ____________________(hobby)?
Who do you like to do your hobby with?
Where do you get supplies for your hobby?
What do you do in your free time?
What do you like to do on the weekends?
What are you going to do this weekend?
What did you do last weekend?
What would your ideal weekend look like?
What do you like to do after school?
What is something you are really good at?
How do you like to waste time?
Do you play any musical instruments?
Do you take lessons or did you learn on your own?
When is your birthday?
How do you celebrate your birthday?
What was your best birthday ever?
What was your worst birthday?
Do you enjoy going to birthday parties?
Does your family celebrate Christmas/Easter/Halloween etc? (Choose any holiday?) How do you celebrate?
What is your favorite holiday? Why?
What is your favorite holiday gift that you have ever received?
Do you have siblings? How many? Are they older or younger?
What is your mom/dad/sibling’s name?
What is your favorite thing to do with your brother(s)/sister(s)?
Who has to do _______________________(insert chore) in your family?
Which sibling is the nicest? Why?
Do you share a room with a brother/sister?
What is your best friend’s name?
What do you like to do with your friends when you hang out?
Do they live nearby?
Do they have the same hobbies or play the same sports as you?
What makes your friend a good friend?
What do you like to do for fun?
Do you like to listen to music?
Who is your favorite band/artist?
Have you watched any good movies recently? Which one?
What is your favorite movie of all time?
Do you ever go to the theatre or drive in movies?
Do you like to read?
What kind of books do you enjoy?
Do you have a favorite author?
Are you reading any good books right now?
Do you have a favorite TV show? Why do you like it?
What did you do this summer?
Did you go on vacation this summer?
Where did you go?
What was your favorite thing you did this summer?
Do you get up early or sleep in during the summer?
What was the best vacation you ever went on?
What was the worst vacation you ever went on?
What is your favorite place to vacation?
Do you usually cook your own food or eat out on vacation?
Would you rather go to __________________________ or __________________________ on vacation?
Animal & Pet Questions
Do you have any animals? What kinds?
What are the names of your pets?
Who takes care of your animals?
Are they indoor or outdoor animals?
What do your animals eat?
How do you earn money?
Do you have a job?
What kind of job would you like to have?
If you had a job, what would you want to buy?
How did you decide what job to get?
Did you get a degree or certificate for your job? (Which degree or certificate?)
Do you like your job?
What tips do you have for other people who might want to do what you do?
How do you help people with your job?
What are the pros and cons of your line of work?
What is something you are really good at?
What skills do you think are important to have as a student/professional etc?
How can you get the skills you need?
Are all skills learned in school?
Where do you learn different skills?
What is the most recent skill you have learned
What is one skill you would like to learn?
What is a skill you can teach others?
What is one skill you don’t have?
Who could teach you that skill?
Growth Mindset Questions
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? (This summer/school year/ever etc)
How did you handle that challenge?
Did you learn anything from that challenge?
How will that help you 5/10/20 years down the road?
How will you treat someone else who finds themselves in that situation?
Have you ever quit anything?
Why did you quit?
How did you feel afterwards?
Did quitting make things better or worse?
When do you think it is ok to quit something?
When should you not quit something?
Have you ever met someone you didn’t like right away?
Why didn’t you like them?
How did you handle the situation?
Was that right way to handle it?
What would you do in the future if you met someone like this?
What advice do you have for others who meet someone they don’t like?
Have you ever met someone that you really wanted to be friends with?
Why did you want to be friends with them?
What qualities did they have?
Are those good qualities in a friend?
What are other good qualities you could look for?
Did this person want to be your friend?
How did that make you feel?
How do you treat people who want to be your friend?
Using the Questions to Start and Engage in the Conversation
Having a list of questions to use in conversations can remove the “thinking” from conversations and allow a child or teen to use questions they have memorized. If my kids are anxious about heading into a new social environment, I love to role-play social interactions they may encounter so they can navigate them confidently.
I would love to hear additional question suggestions or know how you prepare your children for social interactions!