Confession: I am super awkward around kids. I say the F word a lot. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a lot in common with them. Yet, here I am, the mom of four delightful kids who (Thank God) take after my husband: The world’s most patient, kindest, most naturally personable person alive.
I, on the other hand, cringe when left to my own devices with children. What do I say? Am I being weird? Are they being weird? Kids are all weird, right?
Not Everyone is Comfortable Around Kids
I mean, I’m good with my kids. After all, I gave birth to them. I live with them. I can say whatever I want to them without fear they’ll be offended and run tell their mom (they’ll tell their dad, who will remind them they’re going to be just like me one day, bless him). Is it even necessary for me to point out that he’s the favorite, and I’m basically his plus one and the person who gave birth to them and provided them the ability to develop and be born? No biggie.
If we are being super honest, and you know I like to be uncomfortably honest with you, I don’t even like kids. It’s a truthful situation. I love my kids more than life itself. I’d die for them – but I don’t even like them all the time. Sometimes, kids are assholes (and, by the way, if your kid is an asshole, it’s your fault) and they’re not 100 percent likable. I wasn’t sure I’d have kids when my husband and I first wed. I wasn’t sure I’d make a good mom, but my husband was born to be a father. Lo and behold, we have the four coolest, most amazing, most fantastic kids in the world (even when they’re annoying), and here I am.
Conversing with Kids
When you have your own kids, you know how to converse with them. You have 16 million small conversations a day – their minds wander. Kids are like hamster wheels. They just…have a lot to say, and it never stops. However, sometimes you find yourself in the middle of a conversation with a child you’re unsure about, and you don’t know what to say.
For me, this is my nephew. I love him to the moon and back, but we are unsure of one another. He’s almost ten, and I’m almost positive he thinks I’m a complete moron. He has an exceptionally high IQ, and he’s definitely unamused by my regularly hilarious antics. He begins a lot of sentence with “Actually,” when he’s speaking to me. I don’t think he intends to give off the vibe that he thinks I’m incompetent, but he also makes it clear that’s exactly what he wants to say.
When we have our nephew, I struggle to make conversation with him. I’m always trying, but he looks down on me. I have to think of creative, engaging question to ask him to break the ice. The ice never breaks because he genuinely does not like me – which is a dam shame because if anything ever happens to his mom, we become his legal guardians and that’s going to be awkward. But I try. I get an A for effort.
And if you find yourself struggling to break the ice with kids, here is a nice list of ice-breaking questions you might find useful.
20 Questions to Ask Toddlers and Young Kids that Make Them Think….But Aren’t Complicated
Talking to a child who is two to five or six is not the same as talking to a child who is ten. You’re not asking them many of the same questions, though you might ask a variety of similar questions. Here are the 20 best questions to ask small kids.
1. What is your favorite snack?
2. What’s your favorite animal?
3. Do you have pets?
4. Do you have siblings?
5. What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?
6. Do you play sports?
7. Do you have a favorite superhero?
8. What’s your favorite book to read?
9. What is your favorite game to play?
10. What’s your favorite color, and why?
11. What kind of superpower would you have if you could have one?
12. Pizza or hotdogs?
13. Cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets?
14. Cookies or brownies?
15. What do you want to be when you get older?
16. What do you like on your pancakes?
17. What’s your favorite class in school?
18. Who is your favorite teacher, and why?
19. What’s your favorite holiday?
20. Christmas or Halloween?
The 20 Best Questions to Ask Older Elementary School Kids
Once kids reach the second grade (or around age seven), they’re more capable of carrying on a more serious conversation with adults. This is a great time to break the ice with really thoughtful questions that require a little more depth.
1. Do you think you’ll go to college?
2. What do you want to study when you go to college?
3. Do you have a favorite book series?
4. What is your favorite television show?
5. What’s your favorite movie?
6. What’s your favorite thing to do at home?
7. What’s your favorite thing to eat for dinner?
8. Would you rather control the weather or have X-ray vision?
9. What’s the one thing you cannot live without?
10. What’s something that totally grosses you out?
11. Which is worse, snakes or spiders?
12. What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
13. Who do you look up to most?
14. Who is your favorite actor or actress?
15. What would you buy if you had one million dollars?
16. What do you love to do most during summer?
17. What makes a person a great friend?
18. Would you rather be super smart or be super fast?
19. Taco Tuesday or Fun Friday?
20. Is there a character from a movie or a book that reminds you of yourself?
20 Questions to Ask Tweens and Middle Schoolers
Ah, yes, the age in which kids are more awkward than ever, yet find you the most awkward person in the world. It’s a delight, and it’s the gift that keeps giving. These are questions that you can ask a child in middle school – typically those approaching the teen years – that probably won’t make them cringe, but also might make roll their eyes.
1. Are you binging anything on Netflix?
2. Harry Potter or Hermione Granger?
3. Who is your favorite YouTube star, and why?
4. What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
5. What is your weirdest habit?
6. Do you keep your room clean or messy, and why?
7. What is the most hysterical thing that’s ever happened to you?
8. What is your favorite tradition?
9. What is something your parents do that you also want to do when you’re a parent?
10. What is one thing your parents do that you swear you will never do when you’re a parent?
11. Plane or boat?
12. What is your favorite scary movie?
13. What is your favorite sport?
14. Do you belong to any clubs?
15. When was the last time you laughed so hard you either spit something out or you snorted?
16. What is your biggest fear?
17. What is your dream?
18. Do you remember your dreams at night?
19. Do you ever hear that you look like someone famous? Who?
20. Do you know anyone famous?
20 Questions to Ask Teens and High Schoolers
Once your teens reach high school age, there is so much more you can talk to them about. You might not want to be the kind of person who ask ice breaker questions that are too personal, but teens do love to talk about themselves. The questions you get to ask them are a lot more personal and a lot more interesting than the ones you get to ask little kids – though we still think little kids have the best answers.
1. Who is your best friend, and why?
2. Would you rather lie and drag things out forever or take responsibility for your mistake and fix it right then and there even though it’s more awkward and in the moment?
3. What do you miss most about being a little kid?
4. Where is your favorite place to go?
5. What is your favorite book series?
6. Do you have a favorite show to binge watch?
7. What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
8. What’s the chore you dislike more than any other?
9. Which chore is not as bad as other people think it is?
10. What makes your family special and unique?
11. Do you have a favorite season?
12. What is the best thing about high school?
13. What is the worst thing about high school?
14. If you could homeschool starting today, would you do it?
15. What’s on your bucket list?
16. Which famous person would you love to meet more than anyone else?
17. How would you describe your parents?
18. Do you wish you had brothers or sisters, or that you were an only child?
19. What’s your bedtime routine?
20. What do you secretly think is really cool about your parents?
Reading Social Cues in Kids
Have you ever heard the saying, “read the room?” You might think it’s common sense to read the room before you make a comment or begin a conversation (you wouldn’t want to ask a room full of recovering alcoholics if they’re ready to take a shot, would you?), but you’d be surprised how many people forge to read the room. It’s true with kids, too. Many kids send out their social cues with their body language, but adults ignore it. Before you ask any child or teen an ice breaker question, read the room. Do yourself a favor and check their social cues.
- Check their facial expression
- Watch their body language
- Check their tone
If a child seems nervous, scared, or worried, it’s best to put them at ease before you begin asking questions. Not all kids are ready for an ice breaker question directed at them. For example, if you’re the teacher and it’s the first day of school for brand-new kindergarteners, perhaps you want to put them at ease by telling them a funny story about you before you begin talking to them.
If you’re a parent talking to a child’s new friend, perhaps you want to check your own facial expression, tone, and body language. Kids pick up on things you might not be aware you’re doing. For example, if you’re having a rough day but trying to make an effort, it might show. In a situation like that, you might do better offering the child an explanation of why you’re tense and then ask questions.
Why Are Ice Breaker Questions Important?
Ice breakers are important because sometimes people don’t know what to say. Sometimes someone is new. Sometimes it’s awkward. Some kids are scared. Some kids are nervous. Often, some kids are not naturally chatty. Sometimes, it helps children feel more comfortable when you ask a question that’s not easy to answer or asked of them all the time. If you show an interest in them, it helps them open up to you a bit.
Ice breakers also make a situation less awkward. You get to know people on a deeper level. A child might not even realize what they’re teaching you about themselves by the way they answer each question. You might need to know more about them, and they might not want to share. Some questions allow you to get them to open up without cluing them in on the fact that you’re doing this.
Additional Resources for Dealing With Children
- Dealing with Out of Control Teens
- Dealing with Teens Who Verbalize Hatred
- Teaching Children about Anger Management
- Parenting Hacks that Might Actually Help