Conversation Starters

When Traffic Can Be A Good Thing

A study at the start of this century showed that the average American spends up to 541 hours a year in a car. Getting caught up in a daily commute is a major source of stress for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. While in the car your child is a captive audience. You can use that precious time to check-in, make a connection, and have a little fun to pass the time.

Here are some conversation starter ideas:

  • Pose interesting questions
    Often parents try to start a conversation with a child with the question, “what did you do at school today?” “Nothing,” is the answer from the backseat, and the conversation dies. Instead, ask questions that start deeper conversations. “What 3 things did you do well at school today? You go first, and then I’ll tell you 3.” Or, “Is there something you wish you would have done differently today” Or, “Tell me one thing you ate, one thing you did, and one person you talked to today.” All of these questions are crafted to get more information out of your child; information you can use to start deeper conversations.
  • Start a story
    Start a story with a sentence such as, “One day everyone woke up with wings instead of arms” or “Life when you are the size of an ant is not easy.” Take turns adding sentences to build the story. When you get home, encourage your child to draw a picture to illustrate your story.
  • Sing
    Put in a CD, plug in a device, turn up the volume, and sing together at the top of your lungs. Teach your child songs you sang when you were a child. Invite your child to teach you songs s/he learned at school. Singing has been shown to lower stress, tone facial muscles, and boost immune systems. And, it’s just plain fun!
  • Play a game
    See how fast you can find 10 blue things. Can you find all the letters in both of your names before you get home? Find 5 ways the car next to you is the same as yours and five ways it’s different. Think of a person, place, and thing and challenge your child to figure it out with only 20 “yes” or “no” questions. All of these engaging games turn your drive time into learning time.
  • Riddle me this
    Think of an animal or item and give your child simple clues until s/he can guess what you are thinking of. Now, have your child give you clues so you can guess.
  • Get to know each other
    Use the time to find out about each other. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? If you could only eat one food for a week, what would it be? If you could only wear one color, what would it be? If you could have a super power, what would it be? Questions like these can lead to some interesting conversations that help you get to know more about your child.

Driving back and forth can feel like such a chore. But, when you put some of these ideas into action, it may turn out to be the favorite time of the day for you and your child.