Academy Advice

LA Family Support--Full Content Challenge Growth

The Developmental Relationships Framework

Young people are more likely to grow up successfully when they experience developmental relationships with important people in their lives. Developmental relationships are close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them.

When kids experience these five keys in their relationships with parents, they develop attitudes and skills that will help them throughout their lives. They become more resilient, and that helps them overcome the challenges they face.

Search Institute has identified five elements that make relationships powerful in young people's lives. (Source: Each month we will highlight one of the elements and share practical ways to build this in your child.

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Developmental Relationships: Challenge Growth

What does that look like?

  • Expect their best: Expect them to live up to their potential. Highlight future goals . Talk with young people about the things they look forward to or dream about.
  • Stretch: Push them to go further. Expand their thinking by asking hard questions, providing alternate explanations, and encouraging openness to different opinions. This helps them expand their own thinking.
  • Hold them accountable: Insist they take responsibility for their actions. Expect your children to do their best, even when doing something they don't really like.
  • Reflect on failures: Help them learn from mistakes and setbacks. Emphasize that mistakes are a necessary part of learning. Praise them for hard work, whether they succeed or fail.

Bottom Line: PUSH THEM to keep getting BETTER.

Family Dinner

It isn't always easy to eat dinner together as a family. Research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has found that when they asked teens and parents why they didn't eat dinner more often together, the two groups of people blamed each other.

Research studies continue to highlight the power of family dinners. Now a new study from CASA at Columbia University has been released , and it says that teenagers who don't eat dinner frequently with their family are:

  • twice as likely to use alcohol
  • almost twice as likely to use alcohol
  • more likely to use marijuana

The same is true with grades in school:

  • Teenagers who have five to seven family dinners/week are more likely to get As and Bs in school.
  • Teenagers who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to report receiving mostly Cs and lower grades in school.

Use this "captive" time to strengthen your family! Ban the technology from the table, and enjoy being present with one another! Here are some conversation starters!

  • What was the nicest compliment you ever received from an adult?
  • What does it mean to have personal power? Are you born with it, or did you grow it, gather it, or discover it?
  • What is your favorite family tradition? Does it involve an activity you like to do?
  • In your opinion, how important is it to dream and set goals?
  • Would you rather live in the country, a tiny rural town, a suburb of a city, or an urban city center? Why?

Discussion Starters to Challenge Growth

  • How has someone inspired you to take on a challenge? How did they motivate you?
  • How does challenging other people to grow either help or hurt your relationship?
  • What are some challenges our family has faced together? How did you grow while dealing with those challenges?

Developmental Relationships: Challenge Growth

How is your family doing in the following areas?

  • We expect each other to live up to our potential.
  • We push each other to go further.
  • We insist that we each take responsibility for our own actions.
  • We help each other learn from mistakes and setbacks.

Discussion Starters with Your Kids for Challenging Growth

What is something you used to do poorly but now do well? What did you do to improve? Why did you keep working to get better? Did anyone help you? What does the fact that you got better tell you about your ability to achieve other goals?

  1. How has someone inspired you to take on a new challenge? What was inspiring to you about it? What was hard about it?
  2. How does challenging other people to grow either strengthen or hurt your relationship? And how does having a strong relationship make it easier or harder to push people to learn and grow?
  3. What are ways family members have challenged you to learn and grow? How did you respond? What made it easier or harder to keep working toward completing the task or achieving the goal?
  4. In what ways have you challenged other people to do things that would help them learn and grow? How did they respond?
  5. What are some challenges we’ve faced together in our family? In what ways did we grow in the midst of those challenges?
  6. The writer Samuel Beckett once wrote this line in a poem: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” What do you think it means to “fail better?” Have you ever failed better?

Discussion Starters with Other Parenting Adults

  1. Throughout our lives as parents, we’ve had to challenge our kids to take on new challenges and grow. What have been some of the most rewarding times you’ve had in challenging growth? What have been some of the hardest?
  2. Challenging our kids to grow can be tricky. On the one hand, pushing our kids to take on challenges helps them grow. On the other hand, we hope they will work on goals because they want to. How do we live with that tension?
  3. Who are the people who challenge you to learn and grow as a parent? What do they say or do that really helps you keep going, even when it’s tough?
  4. How often has your child had the experience of working hard at something and eventually succeeding? How can we ensure the young person has that experience in the future?
  5. What do you say and do when your child makes a mistake? Are there things you could do to encourage your child to see mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow?

* These parenting adults may include your spouse or partner, extended family members, friends who are parents, or a parent group or class.

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