This One Trick Will Get More Than a One-Word Answer From Your Tween or Teen

If you have a tween or teen, you may feel like you are constantly searching for conversation starters that will lead to more than a one-word answer. Here is an easy way to achieve that and make it happen naturally. 

First, find a quote that you really like. And if you have a certain topic that you want to discuss with your child, then find a quote you know will lead to that. (You know, be sneaky.) Examples: “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” The possibility is certainly endless.

Just remember your audience. No one knows your child quite like you so be sure the quote doesn’t make them tune you out from the beginning because they are already disinterested or rolling eyes.

Next, catch your child at a good time when they are not too distracted. Maybe sit down with him or her to have a snack or even bring it up in the car. Try to find a moment when your child is a captive audience. You will have their attention and they will be able to fully give you theirs.

Then just say, “Hey, I heard this quote today and I really liked it. It made me think about ____. I’d love to know what you think of it!” OR “Here’s what I initially thought of. What about you?” OR, simply, “Here’s this quote. Let’s talk about it.”

You know the level at which your child likes to open up. Set up the situation so it is almost certain you will get a deeper discussion out of it. Taking that first step is typically all you need to make something happen and create conversation. You will most likely be surprised at how willing they are to have a deeper conversation and how it impacts them and you. 


One phrase I have always spoken to my children is, “Just because you’re not being mean doesn’t mean you’re being nice.” I have said this since they were old enough to understand what it means. One day after school, I had a really great talk about it with my ten year old. I came home from an evening out that night, my children were all asleep, and I saw that my daughter had written this quote on our hallway chalkboard. My heart smiled thinking our conversation mattered. And especially THESE words because I have always felt it’s one of the best lessons I can teach. 

Somedays it can be difficult to get your tween or teen to open up, but creating opportunities for that face-to-face communication is imperative in building and maintaining strong relationships. Remember it’s about the quality of the communication and not the quantity.

You can do a whole lot of connecting in the small moments and using a quick, meaningful quote can be a simple way to make it happen.

Make yours or someone else’s words matter today. Sometimes that makes all the difference.

Follow @TogatherMoments on Instagram and Facebook for suggestions of quotes through the week and to follow our #teachablelyrics. We take some of our favorite song lyrics we hear driving around with our own crew and share one song line each week and the actual conversation it has led to in our own family.

Togather for meaningful conversation. It’s about time.

Jennifer Zumbiel