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Asking Open-Ended Questions: Tips for Engaging Your Family in Conversation

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Families today are busy! Balancing work, school and extra-curricular activities can be a real challenge. Many people feel like there is not enough time in the day.

One of the first things that can go out the window is quality conversations as a family. With all the stress and activities, it can be too easy to overlook the importance of slowing down and communicating as a family.

When was the last time you sat down and had a meaningful conversation as a family?

Close-Ended vs Open-Ended Questions

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Depending on the type of question you ask will result in the kind of answer we receive. If we ask questions that invite discussion and elaboration, we may be able to get our teens or young adults to open up and talk a little more.

There are closed ended questions that usually result in limited conversation. Then there are open ended questions that can invite greater discussions.

Closed Ended Questions

As a parent it can be easy to find ourselves asking our teens or young adults quick close-ended questions. Close-ended questions are questions that can be answered with a limited number of responses. These limited responses usually include, "yes", "no" "fine", etc.

These responses do not require much thought. Close-ended questions tend to close down further communication. Here are a few examples of close-ended questions:

  • "How was your day at school?"

  • "Do you like that Netflix show?

  • "Did you sit with someone at lunch?

  • "How are you feeling?

  • "Are you upset"

Open Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are designed to open up further conversation. Open-ended questions are structured to prevent someone from answering with a one word response.

Open-ended questions encourage people to think and process before they respond. Here are a few examples of open-ended questions:

  • "What’s the best part of your day at school? Why?"

  • "Did you meet anyone new today? What are they like?"

  • "In your opinion, what is the most useful/entertaining app?"

  • "If you could invite three people, living or dead, to your birthday party, who would you choose? What would you talk about/do?"

  • "What five items would you bring with you to a deserted island? Why?"

Find Time to Ask Open-Ended Questions

In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to ask close-ended questions. It requires little thought and effort but it also yields unimpressive responses.

As a family therapist, I encourage families to carve out 10-15 minutes each day where each member is asking another person at least one meaningful open-ended question.

This doesn't just fall on the parents. Teenagers and young adults are encouraged to think of good open-ended questions to ask their parents as well.

Asking open-ended questions will deepen the family connection as well as sharpen the family's communication skills. In a world of texting and social media, learning how to ask good questions and learning how to respond appropriately is a very important skill.

Family Therapy Can Help Improve Communication

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Some families may have underlying struggles that need to be addressed before they can connect and communicate effectively. An experienced family therapist can help families explore some of their dynamics and learn how to better relate to each other.

A family therapist gives each member an important voice and guides them in understanding their significance in the family unit. Family therapy can help a family communicate in healthier ways in a few brief sessions.

Signing up for family therapy can be a real investment in the health and well-being of each family member.

Begin Family Therapy at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have 50+ years of combined experience in providing family therapy. Family therapy can be a powerful approach in helping teens, young adults, and families to thrive in happy connectedness.

Our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen and Family Counseling, is conveniently located off of I-10 and 99. We are about 4-5 blocks behind the Academy Sports in Katy, Tx.

If you are ready to start your journey with one of our family counselors who specialize in family counseling, Katy Teen & Family Counseling can help. It's as simple as following these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Speak with one of our caring family therapists

  3. Let us help you strengthen your family relationships and restore happiness

Other Therapy & Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & Houston

Below are a few of the other counseling services we provide for teens, families, and young adults in Katy, Tx and Houston:

Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

About the Author

Man standing in front of tan brick wall wearing blue pinstripe dress shirt and tan sports coat smiling. He is a family therapist katy, tx and a family counselor katy, tx 77494.  He provides family counseling katy, tx 77494 and family therapy in katy, tx 77494.

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and an experienced family therapist.

Quique views each individual through the lens of the family system. Through this lens he provides: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.

Quique has helped those who experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, ADHD/ADD, and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you're ready to start your healing journey in family therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at

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