Let’s face it—asking a teen how their day at school was isn’t going to cut it. Instead of asking the same boring questions that barely get a one-word reply, try these conversation starters to connect with the teen in your life.
8 Tips for Talking to Your Teen
- Don’t push. Teens need to feel like they have the choice to say no, and even if that’s in conversation, you can respect that by not pushing.
- Do talk in the car. When you’re in the car, it feels less threatening or aggressive. Plus, they may find it easier to open up about complex topics because you aren’t looking at each other as much.
- Ask “what…?” instead of “why…?”. Asking “why” questions can feel accusatory while asking “what” helps them think through what they want to say.
- Don’t be judgmental or critical. That’s the fastest way to shut down the conversation.
- Be willing to talk any time. Somehow, teens love speaking at the most inopportune times (e.g., 11:45 at night when you’re exhausted). You may lose the opportunity altogether if you shut down the conversation when they are ready to talk.
- Don’t hog the conversation. The conversation should include listening; teens have a lot going on inside their heads!
- Be curious and willing to learn something new. Some teens feel like adults are narrow-minded or unwilling to consider a different perspective. This shuts down a willingness to communicate and makes it hard for them to trust you.
- Validate how they feel, even if you don’t understand. They may repel your affirmation, but they need to hear that you love them, that you’re proud of them, and that their feelings are legitimate.
- Tell them you read this article and are trying to connect with them. Transparency will go a long way with teens. If they love or hate these questions, you can ask them to come up with the questions they prefer!
Having great conversation can be one of the best ways to connect with kids. Knowing what to say is one element, but knowing how to continue a conversation and end it on a high note is a skill you can take with you for life. Here’s how!
Communicate With Confidence
Do you struggle with small talk? Do you often run out of things to say or feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations?
💪 Speak so people listen,
🤐 No more awkward silences,
🚫 No more small talk.
Conversation Starters for Teens
- What makes you feel good about yourself?
- How do you deal with stress?
- What is the best conversation topic for the middle of the night?
- If you were a candy bar, what candy bar would you be?
- What’s the dumbest miscommunication you’ve ever had with a friend?
- Is there something you enjoy that I don’t know about?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Do you plan to prioritize a career or family when you finish college? Do you think it’s possible to balance both?
- Do you have anyone you’re crushing on right now?
- What country do you think has the best government?
- What do you think we should be doing to care for the planet?
- What’s your opinion on gun control?
- Why do you think the US has the largest prison population?
- What do you think would help decrease homelessness?
- What program or club do you wish your school had more money for?
- Would you ever date someone with different religious beliefs than you? Why or why not?
- Do you think it’s ok to have secrets in relationships?
- What do you think about cryptocurrency? Should it be regulated?
- Would you ever be vegan? Vegetarian?
- What makes you happy?
Watch our video below to learn the 7 things I WISH my parents had taught me… and you can teach your kids:
Good Conversation Starters for Teens
- Who do you eat lunch with at school?
- What bands are you listening to lately? Can we listen to your favorite song? What do you like about this song?
- What’s your favorite show right now? Who do you identify with in the show? Do you have a crush on any of the characters?
- What teacher drives you crazy? What do they do that you dislike? How could they be a better teacher?
- What teacher do you like best this year? What do you like about them and their teaching style?
- How would you describe your style? Do you feel like other teens are accepting of your class or critical?
- Which subject do you think would be the most fun to teach?
- How do you respond when your friends have drugs?
- What is everybody talking about right now?
- Do you think teens have it harder or more accessible today than when I was a teen?
- Describe your perfect day.
- What makes a good friend? Do you feel like you have any friends like that?
- Would I be surprised to see how you interact with people at school? Do you feel you have more freedom to be yourself with your friends?
- Do you feel I’m more or less strict than your friends’ parents?
- What’s your favorite part of the day?
- Is there anything you are looking forward to right now?
- What do you dream of doing when you’re older? Is there anything you can do now to help you accomplish that goal?
- What’s an accomplishment that you are proud of?
- What’s something you wish you knew?
- What language would you like to learn? Why?
Deep Conversation Starters for Teens
- What do you wish you could talk to me about? What makes it hard to talk about it?
- Is there anything about you that you wish could change? What makes you feel that way?
- What’s your opinion about banning books? Do you think censorship is ever a good idea? Is there a book you’re curious about you don’t think I would want you to read? What interests you about it?
- Are there parts of your body that you like or dislike? How does my perception of myself impact your perception of yourself?
- Do you feel like I’m ever critical of your appearance? What do you do when you feel criticized by me?
- Do you ever feel jealous of any of your friends? What makes you feel jealous?
- What does my generation not understand about your generation?
- If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
- What are you worried or stressed about right now?
- Are you worried about the future? Like going to college or getting a job?
- Do you have any enemies?
- Do you have any friends you are worried about right now?
- How do you feel about ____ (insert current event)? Does it make you angry or worried? Do you think there’s a way to solve this problem? What should people be doing that they aren’t?
- What political party will you join when you can vote? Why? Is there anything you disagree with in the political party even though you’d vote for them?
- Do the ends ever justify the means?
- What makes a person successful?
- What would make the world a better place?
- What do you think should be changed about the education system?
- What’s the difference between love and lust?
- Do you think there’s an art point? If so, why does art matter?
- What do you think is most important when it comes to dating?
- What have you learned about yourself in the last year?
- What do you feel like other people judge you for?
- Are there topics your school doesn’t teach you about that you should know?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep?
- How do your friends talk about mental health? How do you feel talking about mental health?
- What do you need right now that you don’t have?
- Do you feel you have too much to handle, or are you managing your time well?
Funny Conversation Starters for Teens
- What is the most embarrassing thing I do?
- What trend do I think is cool, but do you think it’s tacky?
- If you could be a walrus or a porcupine for one day, which would you choose, and why?
- What is the grossest food they serve in the cafeteria? Does anyone eat it?
- If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be?
- What crime would you be arrested for?
- If you could communicate with one type of animal, which would you choose?
- What is the most annoying word?
- Have you ever sent a text message to the wrong person? What did you do?
- Tell me your funniest joke.
- What’s the strangest thing you’re afraid of?
- What’s the weirdest thing you find attractive in a person?
- If your crush had food in their teeth, would you tell them?
- What animal makes you giggle? Show me pics/videos!
- Would you pretend you didn’t know me if my face looked like a hamster’s?
- Would you rather spend the night on the beach in a Santa costume or sing a solo in the mall wearing a onesie?
- Is Ursula a villain, or did Ariel just not read the contract?
- Would you instead fall over in gym class or trip and fall in the cafeteria?
- Would you rather talk like SpongeBob, Patrick, or Squidward?
Conversation Starters for Teens over Text
- I know things didn’t go how you expected, but I’m so proud of you.
- I’m always here for you.
- Remember this? (Send a photo of a fun memory you shared)
- Do you have plans yet for tonight? Want to do something fun together?
- I’m sorry about _____. I was wrong. Can we talk more about it?
- I love how you ____ (insert positive character quality with a specific example).
- Looking forward to the game tonight! Need me to bring anything?
- Send me your favorite meme
- What yarn should I get for you? (If your Gen Z teen is one of many who loves knitting!)
- What do you think it means to be a good global citizen?
- Watching anything interesting on YouTube?
- How would you complete this sentence? I feel ____ about how things are going at my school.
- You’ve been studying for so long! Need to take a break?
- Which has the best soundtrack—Lord of the Rings, La La Land, Gladiator, or Perks of Being a Wallflower?
- What holiday do you look forward to the most?
- When do you know you can trust someone?
- Pay attention to how your teen writes their texts. Do they use punctuation or skip it altogether? You can adjust your texting to match their style better and, in the process, build a communication bridge.
- Learn how to use emojis more effectively.
Fun Conversation Starters for Teens
- If you can convince me that olives are the best topping on ice cream, I’ll let you skip school one day so we can go somewhere fun.
- What topic could you talk about for hours?
- If you could trade lives with a character in a book, who would you choose?
- Do you eat soup or drink soup?
- What one food could you eat every day for the rest of your life and never get sick of it?
- What is one food you would never want to try?
- What is the most disgusting food combo you’ve ever seen someone eat?
- What company would you choose to be a brand ambassador for?
- What’s something fun we could do together?
- Have you seen this video? It’s so funny/weird/interesting!
Best Conversation Starters for Teens
- When do you feel the most alone?
- Do you like to have time alone or prefer to be surrounded by friends?
- What do you like to do when you’re alone?
- What would you make that world look like if you were the leader of a post-apocalyptic world?
- Which is the best book genre? Dystopian, fantasy, chick lit, or family and relationships?
- What was the worst part of your day today?
- What have you learned in school that a teacher didn’t teach you?
- If you could time travel, what time would you choose? Why? What would you do while you were there?
- What’s something unique about you?
- Are there any new skills you’d like to learn?
- What dirty jokes do people tell at your school? (Note: this is a great chance to listen without judgment, see how your teen responds to the joke and gives you a chance to open conversations about consent, sexuality, and other topics)
- Do you want to go to college? Have you thought about where you want to go and what you want to study?
- What support do you need right now?
- Is there something you’ve wanted to talk to me about?
- If you could do whatever you wanted, what would that be?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- What’s the funniest thing that happened this week?
- What’s your favorite comfort food?
- What do you wish we talked about more?
- What makes you feel anxious?
Light-Hearted Conversation Starters for Teens
- What app should I get on my phone that I don’t have yet?
- Who is your celebrity crush?
- What movie can you quote all the lines from? What do you love most about that movie?
- Flip phone or desktop computer?
- Which do you prefer, texting or phone calls? Is there anyone you make an exception for?
- Who is the best talk show host?
- Who is your favorite YouTuber? What do you like about them?
- Would you rather wear grandpa’s clothes the rest of the year or dress like Lady Gaga for a month?
- Would you rather have 10 kids or no kids?
- Would you rather be asked to dance with someone you don’t like or be turned down by someone you do like?
- Would you rather date someone very quiet or very loud?
- Who makes you laugh?
- What makes you laugh?
- What book should they make into a movie?
- What movie or song does everyone love but you don’t like?
- What’s your favorite TikTok trend?
- What would your ultimate vacation look like?
- If you could paint your room any color, what would you choose?
- What’s the best dream you’ve ever had?
- How many pets will you have when you get your place?
- If you could have an exotic pet, what animal would you choose?
- What do you want to do for your next birthday?
Teens can be hard to understand. Learn about The Science of Teens so you can better understand their behavior and how to communicate effectively.