Getting your kids to engage in conversation can be sort of like cranking a well. You know there are words inside of them, however, drawing those words out so you can understand what thoughts and feelings are in there can take a little work.
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Using conversation games to get your kids talking to you not only opens up the lines of communication but also provides valuable insight into your child’s heart. If you’ll only be a good listener!
There is a discussion waiting in the heart of every human. And there is no human, for which it’s more important to have a discussion with than your child.
Buried in his thoughts are the dreams of being a superhero. Underneath it all, is the wish that Pokemon were real. Within the heart and mind of your kiddo is the truth about what broke her heart today.
All those inner thoughts become solid ground for building a relationship that will keep you connected to your child, maintain an open dialogue, and establish trust between the two of you, once you draw them out and talk about them.
How to Use Conversation Games for Kids to Get Them Talking
Play Discussion Games During Dinner
Early on in my parenthood, one of my children received a little pack of cards from Chick-Fil-a (I think.) The cards were the gift that came inside his kid’s meal. He was, seemingly, too young at the time for the toy, but he was excited about them nonetheless and for good reason.
He knew what they were supposed to be used for, even though he couldn’t read the words yet. He brought the conversation starter cards to the table at dinner one night, and said, “Mama, these are questions for us to talk about at dinner time.”
Though my husband and I always tried to keep conversation at dinner fun and flowing, I was intrigued to see what these cards had to offer. We started our meal that night with our preferred regular topics of discussion, then switched over to playing my boy’s “questions for the dinner table” game.
We had a blast using those cards that evening and continued to use them a few nights a week, for years. I was so pleasantly surprised how pointed the questions were. The answers my children had, although quite young, had provided great insight into the inner working of their hearts and minds.
To accomplish connecting with your kids in this way, you can create your own conversation starter game questions, or order a pack like this one here.
The ones we had were very similar to those in the link. And although we wore those cards out to the point of barely being able to read them, we basically memorized the questions, so we continued to use the discussion questions long after the life of the cards was over.
Which leads me to…
Discussion Game Fun Facts
- Fun fact #1. It’s alright to use the same questions over and over.
Kids don’t grow tired of things the way grown-ups do. They have new ideas, thoughts, and big dreams all the time. You’ll be amazed at how often their answers will change and evolve.
- Fun fact #2. If you make up your own questions, keep them simple, open-ended (not yes or no,) and don’t shy away from questions because you think they are too “grown-up.”
For instance, it’s alright to ask your 4-year-old child what he’d like to be when he grows up. He will probably answer you, “Batman!” And that’s fantastic! Keep the conversation going by asking him why he’d like to be Batman instead of Spiderman. He may surprise you with his response!
- Fun fact #3. Questions work well across all ages.
Going back to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question… there are 25-year-olds still trying to figure that out. So your kids aren’t going to outgrow any question. Nor should you wait until they’re a certain age to ask.
- Fun fact #4. The questions don’t need to be different for various ages and neither does the depth at which you draw out conversation.
You can use the same questions with a teenager or a preschooler. Likewise, you can dig deeper and deeper into their answers to gain insight into their hearts and minds. The aspect that changes is your perception of their answers as a parent, how to understand the feedback, and what you do with it from that point.
- Fun fact #5. Your child will enjoy discussion games during dinner, whether he overtly tells you so or not.
To keep your kids interested and having fun, be sure to participate in the questions yourself, don’t stress or push, have fun, keep the mood light, and create an engaging atmosphere. Doing so will draw a reluctant child in.
Use Conversation Games For Kids at Bedtime
For many children, there is something about bedtime that softens and opens their hearts. They are sleepy, warm, receiving their hugs and kisses, and out of nowhere, they feel like chatting.
Sleep is important and I am a big proponent of a structured bedtime. (read more about that here) Having a routine along with a bedtime standard in place allows children to get the restorative sleep they need to be healthy, cheerful, and happy.
Knowing that, plan bedtime accordingly. Make having a conversation game a scheduled part of your bedtime routine. Keep it short and simple. Choose just one question each day to ask that night when you’re tucking your child in.
Use this opportunity to ask deeper questions that your child may not typically feel like diving into. Again, when your kiddo is sleepy and just a little emotional about parting with you for the day, is a great time to ask questions that penetrate the heart.
Be sensitive to the things you’re hearing. This may be the time that your girl opens up to you about being picked on. Or perhaps, this is when your boy shares that he’s having a hard time concentrating. You never know what bedtime conversation will produce.
Plan your evenings accordingly. If this means going to bed earlier, because you know a 30-minute conversation is likely to arise, then push bedtime up a bit. Sleep begets sleep. Earlier is better anyway, so make it work for you and your pumpkin.
Let Your Child Lead The Conversation
Using Chat Pack discussion topic cards or another conversation starter list of questions is a great way to get the ball rolling! However, don’t be afraid to let your child lead the way. A question of a particular sort may lead to a discussion that is off topic, but more important.
Allow your kids the liberty to stray a bit. Be the mediator. If the conversation is getting way off track and venturing into chaos territory, be quick to reign it in, and try again with a different question or topic. However, if a topic somehow led to a different topic that is more relevant to a child, let it roll.
Likewise, don’t dismiss the direction your child goes. Look for clues as to what is on her mind based on the things she is saying.
Discuss What You Know Your Kids Love
You can intentionally make slight changes to the questions you ask your kids in order to make them more appealing. For instance, if I were asking my tween boy what he wanted to be when he grew up and he was miserably bored by it, I may instead ask what Pokemon trainer he would rather be.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a big fan of Pokemon and lots of parents hate it. But I am not above using the things my children are interested in (that drive me crazy) to the advantage of my family!
It’s easy to start with a topic that gets their hearts beating a little faster, to draw them into a conversation that you can then direct.
“What about THAT trainer do you admire more than others?”
“Is that trainer particularly kind? Powerful? Smart”
Benefits of Conversation Games for Kids
- Show Interest in Their Interests
When you ask your child questions, you’re showing interest. Interest in the things that matter to him. Interest in how he feels, what he likes, and even what he doesn’t like. The resulting benefit is a child who feels seen and heard.
Feeling seen and heard is a longing in every human being. Using conversation games for kids to meet that need from an early age in your child’s life establishes a sense of belonging. Repeatedly opening up dialogue that you actively listen to and engage in solidifies the truth that “Mom understands me.” Having established that in your child’s brain development will reap a bountiful harvest later in his life.
- Opens Lines of Communication
Remember that just because you started the conversation game with a question like, “What’s your favorite color and how does that color make you feel?” doesn’t mean that is where the conversation will stay.
Dialogue is like a snowball. It’s only difficult to get started. Once it gains some momentum, it can progress quickly and reach places you couldn’t have anticipated.
Parents like you and I, who are committed to raising kids who are fulfilled and successful in life, will chase down that dialogue.
We won’t wait for our kids to come to us and say, “Mom, I have a giant life-situation that I need to discuss with you.” No, you understand that in order to reach a place in your family where that is likely to happen (when necessary) you have to purposefully establish open lines of communication, by pursuing your child!
Use conversation games for kids to build an environment where your child knows the lines of communication are open and she can talk with you about all sorts of topics. Use these discussions to cultivate a safe, secure, and confident atmosphere in your home and in your child’s heart!
- Establishes Ease of Conversation
The ability to have meaningful conversation, engage with others in dialogue, and be open and honest is like a muscle. It gets stronger the more you use it.
By being intentional to develop these conversation skills with your kids, you’re providing them with a valuable life skill. Your child will be better at communicating with others on the whole.
She’ll be better at maintaining friendships, speaking up for herself, effectively participating in debate, and functioning relationally in general, all because your practice with her strengthened that muscle. (read more about building your child’s confidence here)
Much the same, after years of conversation, discussion, and being heard, she’ll have greater ease to come to you with difficult conversations. The open and warm tone in your home breeds connection.
- Creates Family Tradition
Having conversation games with your kids will make a great family tradition. Your children will fondly remember the impact these discussions had in their lives. They’ll be able to share with their own children one day the tradition of “dinner questions” around the table.
Your girl will share with her own daughter how she and her Mommy would have the best chats before bed. This tradition will carry over to her children as she longs for the same parent-child dynamic.
Creating family traditions is a great way to create a sense of belonging in your child’s heart and using conversation games is an impactful tradition to start. (read more about building the family you always dreamed of here)
- Create Loving Family Memories
If you’re anything like me, you want your children to look back on their childhood with primarily fond memories. We want them to have far more joyful recollections than otherwise.
The memories of cheerful and hilarious family meals around a table will make your kids smile for years to come. These memories take very little effort to create. With a lot of love and a bit of intention, you’ll give your kids memories they’ll treasure.
The Best Conversation Games for kids
FREE CONVERSATION GAMES FOR KIDS
- 1. Would you rather?
Would You Rather is a conversation game that involves supplying two scenarios and asking your child which scenario he or she would choose.
For instance, the question you pose may be: Would you rather have a giant head or tiny hands.
You can accomplish three things with this game. It’s likely to make your children (1) laugh as their imaginations run wild at the notion of a giant head. They’ll (2) thoughtfully consider the difficulty they’d actually experience at such a reality. Lastly, you’ll gain (3) valuable insight into your child’s fears. (Is she more considered about vanity ((the head)) or function ((the hands))?)
Additional Would You Rather Questions are:
- Would you rather have only long sleeve shirts or only short sleeve shirts?
- Would you rather have to stay inside or outside?
- Would you rather always be late or always be early?
- Would you rather always have easy chores with no reward or difficult chores with big rewards?
- Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?
- Would you rather have lots of OK friends or one really great friend?
- Would you rather have all salty foods or all sweet foods?
- Would you rather give up TV for a year or playing games for a year?
- Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read human minds?
- Would you rather have the ability to fly or have teleportation?
There is really no end to would you rather questions you can come up with. You can easily change the question depending on the age of your child. Younger children will respond best to questions that center around themselves and their interests. Whereas older kids will appreciate pondering deeper things.
- The Elevator Game!
The elevator game is played by assigning a topic (or allowing your child to choose one) then setting a timer and talking about that topic for 1-5 minutes.
For instance, if the topic of the evening is red sneakers, you would set a timer and child #1 would tell the table every thought he had about red sneakers for the set amount of time. Then the next person would take a turn. Topics can remain the same or change with each player.
The elevator game is great for developing communication skills. Most people can have a conversation once they get started. Once again, it’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling. The elevator game is a great way to practice simply getting words out! (read more about communication for toddlers here)
To make this game even more meaningful, our family has a talking stick. We have a stick that we assigned authority to. That stick gives only the person speaking the power to talk. Everyone else has to be quiet and listen. (The talking stick is multi-purpose and used for many guided conversations and meetings in our home.)
- Fact or Fiction?
Fact or Fiction is played when the adult at the table tells the rest of the group a fact about his or her life. It’s then up to the kids to determine if it’s actually a fact or made up!
This is a great family tradition and memory maker for families. If you are telling an actual fact, it can lead into stories of your own life, give your kids insight into your upbringing, or provide the basis for a new connection.
If you’re telling a piece of fiction, it will challenge your children to really consider what they know to be true about you. “Does that sound like Mom?” It will also sharpen their understanding of that fact that not everything they’ll hear or read is true!
- This or That?
This or that is played by simply giving your child the choice of any two like things. Cats or dogs? Breakfast or lunch? Day or night? Cars or trucks? Fast or slow?
There is really no limit to where this conversation game can lead. The answers your child provides can be discussed as much or as little as you’d like.
This game is great for when you need something light-hearted and superficial. After a rough day or in a time of grief. The discussions that result from this game are versatile and valuable.
- Answer Fast!
Answer Fast is played by saying one word and having your child quickly say the first thing that comes to his mind as a result of the word.
While you can play this game with children of any age, it may stump the little ones just a bit. Encourage them to say anything at all. This will get them in the habit of participating and make it easier for them to play later.
This game will also give you insight into patterns in your child’s thought processes.
- Name Ten
Name 10 is played when you provide a topic or category and each child comes up with 10 examples of that topic.
For instance, I might declare the topic Favorite Foods and my child would tell me his 10 favorite foods.
Or, for older children, I may say the topic is cars. The child would then list 10 kinds or makes of cars.
Listen for patterns in your child’s answers. You can easily grow the knowledge and understanding you have of your child by paying attention.
These little nuggets of insight all build upon one another to work toward establishing an amazingly strong family.
- I Like You Because…
I Like You Because is a great family bonds building game. In this game, players take turns stating one thing they like about the person to his or her left. The game moves around the table (or circle) until each person has had a turn.
Once everyone has had a turn, go around the circle again, requiring everyone to say something that hasn’t been said yet.
Any answer is fine. Don’t set our looking for profound answers initially. If child A likes child B because she shares her toys, that’s a great answer! Child b can now feel great about her sharing ability and child A can develop a sense of gratitude for his generous sister.
On the other hand, if child C has a difficult time coming up with something for child D, perhaps there is a conflict there that you need to be aware of and take steps to resolve. Or if you’re already aware of a conflict this could be just the motivation you need to intentionally work towards a solution.
- Highlights and Lowlights
Highlights and Lowlights is a conversation game exercise we use during our weekly family meetings. When playing Highlights and Lowlights, tell your child to list X number of things that made his heart happy this week (highlights) and X number of things that made his heart sad this week (lowlights.)
Encourage your child to share anything on her heart. Remind her that she’s open to share grievances and hurts, as well as joys and praises.
**As a side note, my children rarely have lowlights during our family meetings. This is NOT because their lives are void of heartache, but because the culture of family security we’ve established gives them the power to navigate and deal with the difficulties in such a way that they don’t carry them as burdens. This is the goal!!!
- Who Would You Be?
Who Would You Be is played similarly to Would You Rather. In Who Would You Be, ask your child if he could be anyone in all of history, who would it be?
Playing this conversation game with your kids can combine a history lesson and parent-child connection at the same time. You may find that the person your child chooses is someone you’d choose as well.
Or you may be completely surprised by her choice.
Be sure to play along so that when you provide your answer and your reasoning, you’re giving backstory about various people in the world.
This helps kids think beyond their own lives. Be sure to engage, advance, and develop the conversation into whatever you’d like it to be.
I’d venture to say just about every human knows the Telephone game! This game can be used as a fun conversation game for kids by examining the game results.
To play Telephone, one person comes up with a single sentence phrase. The first person whispers the one-sentence phrase to the second person, then the second to the third, and so on…
When the last person has had the one-sentence phrase whispered to her, she says it out loud. The first person will then say out loud what the original one-sentence phrase was.
Sometimes the sentence remains intact and makes it to the last person in its original form, however, often times, it is wildly different.
This makes a great discussion about gossip, rumors, and second-hand information! Indeed, it is always best to hear information straight from the source and this game really drives home that lesson.
CONVERSATION GAMES FOR KIDS YOU CAN BUY
Most of these games have a packaged, paid version available. For some parents, myself included, coming up with the topic ideas can be a bit of a chore.
Since my brain isn’t always imaginative enough to come up with this stuff on the spot, I like keeping lots of prompts on hand.
Want ready-made ideas? Try these affordable game options!
“Creative questions to ignite the imagination.”
“Cool questions to entertain young minds.”
“Conversation starters for great relationships.”
“Conversation cards for the entire family.”
“Spark discussion and personal responses.”
“A sentence completion card game.”
Sentence completion game to teach kids to express feelings”
“Develop listening, language, and social skills”
These are intended for children on the Autism spectrum. They’d also be great for younger children as the photo prompts would work well for young minds.
“Pocket-sized creative story generator”
These can also be homemade by collecting small rocks and painting simple pictures on them. We have a set that is homemade and love to play with them!
Simple Talking Games = Big Parenting Value
You want the very best for your child. I know how important it is to you that the relationship you have – be strong, connected, and meaningful. Using these simple talking games is a powerful and impactful way to accomplish the relationship you long for.
It’s important to be the one your child “goes to” when he or she needs “a person.”
What parents don’t often realize, however, is that it’s unlikely to happen without intention.
Great child communication skills, require you to intentionally train child communication skills.
Your child feeling safe and secure about opening up to you requires you intentionally cultivate an atmosphere of safety and security in your home.
Raising a child who trusts you with her thoughts, emotions, feelings, dreams, and hurts requires that you build a foundation of trust by repeatedly engaging and showing interest in the things that interest her.
When all these elements are worked together, intentionally and regularly, the resulting family dynamic is extraordinary.
Your child will do most of the work while playing conversation games. Most children do enjoy talking, once you get them started. It’s is so important, though, that you be willing to open up as well. If you know you are naturally a bit melancholy, be cognizant of that and share your heart in order to set the example.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you have one mouth and two ears. The goal with conversation games for kids is to get them talking. So, provide two listening ears that are fully receptive and use your mouth half as much.
Even when your child surprises you with something he has said, it’s typically best to hold your tongue and think before you speak. Make sure he’s gotten out everything he has to say before providing your own thoughts.
Use your two ears and one mouth proportionately.
Final Thoughts on Getting Your Kids Talking
The type of trust, openness, communication, and closeness you desire is a symptom of a solidly established family culture.
The vast majority of the time the difference between a child who hides things from her parents and one who goes to her parents first is the family dynamic in her home.
In order to achieve the transparency and communication we want from our children, building a home life that is conducive must be a priority.
Every effort you make will build upon the rest. Using conversation games for kids to get them talking to you is a powerful action to take. Now don’t stop there!
There is more to learn about how to build the kind of family dynamic that makes strangers stop you on the street to tell you how impressive your family is.
Want to learn more? CLICK HERE.