How Should I Effectively Ask My Child Questions?

Developing communication with your child is another important part of growth and development. Young children are naturally curious about a lot of things. More often than not, you may find them asking you a series of questions as part of their learning experience. In the same thread, being the one who asks questions of your children actually benefits them as well. 

How do you effectively ask your child questions? Providing simple, open-ended questions is a good start in engaging your child to answer a question. At a young age, this helps develop their ability to think critically and enhance their thinking process as they grow. Open-ended questions are said to be effective since they have no right or wrong answers. Instead, this helps them get used to how they process the things going on around them, as well as improve their speech and confidence.

Critical thinking is an essential skill needed among our younger generations today. A child being exposed to answering questions can widen their horizons. Maybe you are looking into encouraging your child to talk some more, or you want them to develop their reasoning and thinking process. To shed more light on this matter, I have gathered the information below to further explain the necessary steps.

3 Qualities Your Questions Should Have

Conversing with a child may seem as easy as ABC, but if you have certain skills you want to develop further, you will need to take note of some things. Remember that your goal is to prolong the conversation, instead of just getting one-word responses like ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘okay’, or ‘fine’.

Below are some tips which you may want to consider when preparing questions for your child:

  • Make the questions open-ended
  • Make the questions relatable for your child
  • Make the questions short and simple but personal and meaningful at the same time

Make the questions open-ended

Leaving questions open-ended can give more room for your child to come up with longer responses instead of just limited one-worded answers like ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This will also make it easier for you to insert follow-up questions, hence prolonging your conversation with your child. 

Make the questions relatable for your child

When  you ask your child about something that he or she likes, they are sure likely to talk about it even more. Who doesn’t enjoy talking about the things they can relate to?

Make the questions short and simple, but personal and meaningful at the same time

Depending on your child’s level of understanding, it is always best and highly recommended to keep your questions short and simple. This is to lessen their confusion. It is also important for your questions to contain some depth as well. In doing so, your child will feel that you are sincerely interested, and will thus will be more encouraged to answer your questions.

Helpful Tips on How to Effectively Ask Questions of Your Child

Show genuine interest

When your child feels your genuine interest in your manner of questioning, this will prompt them to share even more. Some ways you can show your genuine interest is by steering clear of the scripted questions like ‘How are you?’, ‘What did you today?’ or ‘Did you have fun?’ You may use these as conversation starters though at least try to add a personal touch to your questions. 

Moreover, if you had a previous conversation on a certain topic, you can use that to your advantage. It will also show your child that you are a good listener. An example may be, “So, did you have fun at school today? Did you do your favorite water play like the one you told me the last time?

Prepare follow-up questions

Having follow-up questions ready will not only prolong the conversation but at the same time will also harness your child’s thinking process. This will further establish their flow of thoughts as well as their flexibility. 

Furthermore, it may also gradually expose them to a variety of complex ideas like learning how to process their emotions. For instance, if you ask your child questions like “What did you find challenging or hard to do today?”, you can help him or her process the feeling of being frustrated.

Be a good listener

Being a good listener can help you build up more interesting questions for your child. Likewise, this will show your child that you are paying attention, hence displaying your interest to talk to him or her. This will also make the questions you ask effective because they are highly likely to be responsive towards you.

Know your child’s interests well

If you are trying to get your child to respond to questions, becoming aware and well-familiar of his or her interests plays to your advantage. A child engages more when they talk about the things they love.

If you are a teaching professional and you want the child to become more responsive to your questions during your class time, you can try incorporating something the child is interested in your lesson.

When your child breaks something, avoid sounding accusatory

There are inevitable instances when your child does something unpleasant, may it be breaking objects, hurting a friend or saying a bad word. Whether they are intentional or unintentional actions, it is important to phrase your questions carefully. 

If you find yourself in such a scenario, avoid asking questions that will put your child on the defense. The usual triggers for such are “That’s bad! Why did you do it?”, or  “You broke this, didn’t you?” 

Remember to give your child a chance to explain such as by asking, “Would you like to explain to me what happened?

General Advice on Asking Questions to Your Child

In a general overview, asking your child questions benefits them from more than just teaching them how to communicate. As parents or teachers, it is important for us to guide and help the children. Sometimes, there is a tendency for us adults to underestimate a child. We tend to dismiss the things they say because we think it’s mostly imaginative and are not to be taken seriously. 

If there is one thing I have learned from my teaching experiences, it is the fact that kids are actually smart and that they are full of surprises. Hence, we should take this as an opportunity to make them think as critically as they can, and to keep encouraging them. 


Asking your child questions requires great involvement whether you are a parent or a teacher. With the information provided above, bearing in mind a few of these details may actually benefit you from helping your child improve the way they express themselves as well as hone their critical thinking skills. In the same manner, it also improves the relationship you have with them.

Related Questions

What other alternatives to “How are you” can I ask my child? You can try exploring other methods of questioning such as by asking if there was something your child found exciting during his or her day, or you can simply ask what the best part of his or her day was.

What if my child is having a hard time answering my questions? There are things to consider such as the phrasing of your question and your child’s mood. Try to assess if the question is too complex, or if your child is simply cranky. Otherwise, if you notice that there seems to be some delay with his speech or thinking process, you may also consult with a developmental pediatrician or child behavior specialist. 

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This article is part of the Child Development series. Check out the guide to become a skillful parent.


how are you, how was your day, punishment, questions, talking


Joe is a biologist and amateur writer.

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