Back-To School Part 3 – How Do I Get My Teenager To Talk To Me? – 50 Conversation Starters for Parents of Teens

Back-To-School Part 3

Family Dinner in Los Angeles

Getting a teenager to talk to you can be tough! “What did you do today, Honey?” “Nothing”. “How did your day go?” “Fine”. Sometimes teen conversation can just sound like a series of grunts! And yet…they talk and text to their friends practically all night long…

What’s the secret? Truth is, your interest will not trump the attention of their friends. Overall, though, (and sometimes very deep down!) what they want most of all is your approval. So they do have a strong motivation (however subconscious!) to talk to you.

One thing parents often overlook is timing.

In the morning, and/or on the way to school, is seldom a good time. Your teenager is anxious about the day ahead, and probably not really awake yet. (Click here for more info on teen sleep habits).

There are a couple of times when your teenager might be interested in talking. One time is late at night, when their biological clocks are telling them to be awake and alert. If they knock on your door at night with some innocuous question, chances are you have an opportunity to engage them in an interesting conversation– provided you are awake enough to talk!

Another good time is at family dinner. Research shows that family dinner is important for your family dynamic and for your teenager’s emotional health. If you are not having family dinner at all, start with once a week, maybe on Sunday nights before things get too busy during the week.

texting at the dinner table in Los Angeles

Insist on a “No phones at the table” rule for everyone– this means you, too!

It is good to have a topic ready to discuss. Sometimes, especially if your relationship with your teen has been tense lately, it is good to have a discussion topic that is not personal, like a current event.

You can “assign” a family member the task of having a current event to discuss, and that family member will be in charge of beginning the discussion with some background or their opinion. Family members can take turns each time being in charge of the topic for that evening.

Below is a list of 50 topics to inspire you. Be sure you have your own answer ready to share; it may take a while for everyone else to get the hang of it. If your answer is something unexpected or creative, that is even better!

The questions range from neutral personal preferences (who is your favorite teacher?), to questions designed to help with mood regulation (what is the first thing you notice when you are feeling angry) to questions about values (what can we do to make the world a better place?). You can use the “goofy” questions to lighten the mood, if necessary, and the serious questions to explore family values and goals.


1.  What are the best thing and worst thing that happened to you today (this week)? (The Obama family reportedly does this, they call it - “Roses and Thorns”)

2.  What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?

3.  What can we each do, or do as a family, to make the world a better place?

4.  What do you want to accomplish this week?

5.  What is your biggest challenge for this week?

6.  What is the one thing you could do this week that would make you feel amazing?

7.  What one word describes you best? Your siblings? Your parents?

8.  What is the one thing you value most in your friendships?

9.  Who is your favorite teacher? What makes them different/better?

10. What do you wish was different about school this year?

11. What surprised you about school this year?

12. What do you think is going to be the most fun this year?

13. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

14. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

15. What is your favorite family tradition?

16. What would you like to see as a new family tradition?

17. If you could travel back in time, what year would you visit?

18. Who is your role model? Why? If you don’t have one, what qualities would you like them to have?

19. What do you do to cheer yourself up?

20. What do you do when you feel yourself getting angry?

21. What is the first thing you notice when you are getting angry?

22. Describe your dream day from the time you wake up until you go to bed.

23. If you had $100 to spend on something fun, what would it be?

24. What 3 things would you take to a deserted island?

25. If you could be in any movie, which one would it be?

26. If you could be fluent in any language, which one would you choose?

27. If you could be an expert in any field, what would you choose?

28. What is something that sounds like a compliment but is actually an insult?

29. What platitude do people say that is total garbage?

30. What is something that takes a lot of your willpower to/not to do?

31. If you could know the absolute truth about something, what would it be?

crazy dive

32. What silly/stupid/crazy/ thing has someone talked you/tricked you into doing?

33. What is the most useless talent that you have?

34. If you could have one do-over, what would it be?

35. If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?

36. How would your friends describe you?

37. What do you wish you could stop thinking/worrying about?

38. What is your biggest time-waster? (If your answer is “social media”, you are not alone! Check out my blog post “5 Easy Hacks To Stop Spending Too Much Time On Social Media”)

39. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

40. If you could be any age, what age would you be?

41. What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

scary spider in Los Angeles

42. What are you afraid of? Heights? Spiders? Math?

43. What is the weirdest thing about you?

44. What do you wish everyone knew about you?

45. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?

46. Which cartoon character do you resemble the most?

47. What are you most thankful for?

48. What celebrity do you think would be a good friend?

49. What could someone do, that would make you never want to be their friend?

50. What’s the craziest idea you have ever heard?

This is Part 3 of a series about Back-To-School for Parents of Teenagers. Click here to read Part 1: How Do I Get My Teenager To Do Their Homework. Click here for Part 2: How Do I Get My Teenager to Get Up In The Morning. Click here for Part 4: Is Instagram Bad For My Teenager?

If you would like more help understanding and communicating with your teenager, please feel free to call me at 323-999-1537, or email me at

You can also use the button below to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation.