36 Questions to Ask Toddlers to Get Them Talking
When it comes to toddlers, it's a truth universally known that conversations can be pretty hilarious. But they can actually be pretty challenging, too. Before babies start talking, we're told simply to speak to our kids about whatever we're doing and experiencing in order to expose them to language. Fast forward a few years, though, when they have a full vocabulary to play with and suddenly they want to talk back!
So how do you get your toddlers engaged in actual conversations with you? One of the best ways is to ask them questions. This, of course, is a great conversation-starter for people of any age, but it's particularly effective with toddlers because it gets those wheels turning like nothing else.
"Asking young children questions validates that what they have to say is important," says Jann Fujimoto, a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks, a site that provides speech therapy services to kids of all ages. "Asking young children questions and listening to their answers establishes trust and a relationship with their parent, now and for the future."
- RELATED: When Do Toddlers Start Talking?
What's more, back-and-forth communication with kids, even as young as toddler age, can teach your child how to think clearly, and organize their own thoughts properly. "Questions can be the jumping-off point for discussions about how the world works, what problems your child is facing and how to resolve them, and more generally how to figure things out," says Forrest Talley, Ph.D., a child psychologist with the University of California Davis Department of Pediatrics.
We gathered up some of the best questions to get your started. But before you start asking, make sure you make time to listen to what your little one has to say. "Find a time when you and your child are not rushed or stressed. Everyday moments, like enjoying a meal or snack together, during bath time, playing together, taking a walk or physically moving, or preparing for bedtime make great opportunities for conversation," says Fujimoto.
Questions to Learn About Your Toddler
Nearly all questions will give you a glimpse into your child's inner world, but those that focus on aspirations, security, and fears push back the curtain even farther, explains Dr. Talley. Here are some questions to ask your toddler that will help you learn more about that developing personality and help them get in touch with their emotions.
- Is there anything scary about this movie/toy/story?
- Does doing that make you feel brave?
- What superpower would you like to have?
- What did you like most about your trip to the park/mall/playground?
- What did you like least about your trip to the park/mall/playground?
- What do you like about taking care of our dog?
- What do you dislike the most about (something that frequently causes meltdowns)?
- Who will you be when you grow up?
- How do you feel when someone is sick?
Fun Questions to Ask Your Toddler
When your toddler is in the very beginning stages of communication, it's important to keep things fun and light-hearted. They'll love your sense of humor—and develop one of their own!—when your daily discussions include fun questions like these.
- What are you really good at?
- How old are you?
- How tall is Daddy?
- What is the best thing about this book?
- Where do you think bubbles go?
- What does food think when we eat it?
- Would you rather eat a piece of cake or a cookie? Why?
- Where would you go if you could fly?
- Would you like to swim like a fish?
- What do strawberries smell like?
Silly Questions to Ask Your Toddler
"The great thing about silly questions is that children of this age think you are hilarious for asking such a thing," says Dr. Talley, which can actually make them feel more connected to you and even more likely to turn to you when they need someone later in life.
- What kind of monster would you be? Can you draw it?
- What kind of animal would you be?
- What would our pet say if he could talk?
- How tall are you?
- What color would you be if you could be any color?
- What would happen if you ate polka dots?
- Do lizards have ears?
- What if cats had fins?
- What would happen if this toy were real?
Thoughtful Questions to Ask Your Toddler
"Children at this age love to talk about 'favorites'—their favorite flavor of ice cream, favorite movie, the best time in the day, among others," says Dr. Talley. Go deeper by asking why something is your child's favorite. It's a great way to get them thinking about their likes and dislikes. "Sharing your own favorite item will deepen your connection with your little one," also adds, Dr. Talley.
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- Who is your favorite person?
- What makes you feel sad?
- What is love?
- What do you love most about Granny/Pop/Nana, etc?
- What holiday do you love?
- Which of these stickers would you choose? Why?
- Which shape is your favorite?