Kids ask a lot of questions. Sometimes the questions repeat themselves. Most of the time we’ve answered them over and over. And let’s be honest, we’ve been known to ignore one or two here and there or do an internal eye-roll over the constant barrage of why’s and how’s. To be fair, studies have shown that young children ask over 300 questions each day—and so we can’t really be expected to answer all of them. (Right?)
But here’s the thing, kids should actually be encouraged to ask more questions—not fewer! (I know, you want to stop reading right now, because, why?! How?!) Turns out there’s a very good reason: When you answer your child’s questions, you help keep your child’s mind open, says author and parenting expert Michele Borba, Ed.D., Plus, she adds, “You’re modeling what a good question looks and sounds like.”
It’s important we let kids know their imagination—and desire to know more—is a wonderful thing, and it turns out we can help achieve this not just by answering our kids’ many questions, but by making a point to ask them just as many questions in return. After all, it’s proven that kids mimic the words, patterns, routines, and behavior of their parents.
So move beyond the basic “How was your day?” and consider this list of 50 questions to help get your kids talking:
1. What do you like daydreaming about?
2. What makes you happy?
3. What have your friends been up to?
4. If you could do anything right now, what would you do?
5. What do you look forward to when you wake up?
6. Do you ever think about renaming the colors of your crayons?
7. What character makes you laugh the most?
8. If you opened a store, what would you sell?
9. What’s your Superhero name and what powers do you have?
10. You’re at the beach. What’s the first thing you do?
11. If you could grow anything in the yard, what would it be?
12. What makes you feel brave?
13. What makes you feel loved?
14. How do you show people you care?
15. What does it feel like when I hug you?
16. If your stuffed animals could talk, what would they say?
17. If you could give $100 to a charity, which would you choose?
18. How would you design a treehouse?
19. What do you enjoy giving people?
20. Did you smile or laugh extra today?
21. If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
22. If you drew everything that came to your head, what would you be drawing right now?
23. If you designed clothes, would would they look like?
24. How do you best like helping others?
25. Pretend you’re a chef, and tell me about your restaurant. What foods do you serve?
26. What do you think you’re going to dream about tonight?
27. What makes you feel thankful?
28. Where would you like to travel? How would you get there?
29. What sounds do you like?
30. If you made a cave in the woods, what would be inside it?
31. If you could ask a wild animal any question, what would you ask?
32. You’re outside for a whole day: what would you do?
33. What makes the best fort?
34. What makes you feel energized?
35. If you were in a play, what would your character be like?
36. How do you think animals communicate?
37. What are some of the best things about nature?
38. You’re a photographer for a day, what would you take pictures of?
39. What’s a memory that makes you happy?
40. What bugs you?
41. Describe a great day. What are you doing that makes it special?
42. What animal would make a great driver?
43. What makes your friends so awesome?
44. What makes you so awesome?
45. Do you have any inventions in your brain?
46. Do you think it’d be fun to learn another language?
47. What are three things you want to do this summer?
48. If you could make up a new holiday, what would it be?
49. What makes someone smart?
50. If you had friends all over the world, how would you keep in touch?
Don’t worry if your child isn’t initially excited about answering your questions—and don’t rush her to answer or move on to another one too quickly. Letting your child take her time shows that you’re genuinely interested in what she has to say, and not just robotically asking. And for us adults, it’s a great way to exercise our own creativity and imagination. Do you ever wonder when or why we stopped thinking outside of the box on a regular basis? By getting back there, we’re modeling the importance of curiosity. So feel free to share your own answers to these questions, too!