In this stressful time during the COVID-19 pandemic, we may back off from expecting each other to do our best. To be sure, we do need to keep a balance, knowing when to focus on care, support, and comfort, which are sometimes the most important things we can offer.

Sometimes, though, even when it’s hard, we also need to challenge each other to push harder—not in a mean way but in a I-believe-you-can-do it way. Sometimes we all need extra challenge when we may lost motivation amidst the changes in routine brought on by the pandemic. We need to hold each other accountable for what we say we’ll do, to do our best, and by helping each other to learn from our own—and each other’s—mistakes.

It’s important to remember, though, that we challenge growth in many different ways. Each of us is motivated in different ways. In every case, though, it’s important that we challenge each other in ways that reflect a relationship built on trust, care, and mutual respect—which are other keys to a strong parent-child relationship.

Family Quiz

With other family members, take the Challenge Care Quiz, which you’ll find in the Check It tab on the Challenge Growth page on www.KeepConnected.info. As many people can complete the quiz as you’d like. Then compare your results to prompt a lively discussion.

Family Activities

These activities invite your family to explore what it means to challenge each other to grow. If you want more activities or more detailed instructions on these activities, go to Challenge Growth on KeepConnected.info. Click on the gray bar for each heading to find more activities.

1. Expect My Best

Expect me to live up to my potential.


The Ups and Downs of Expectations

40 Minutes

High expectations are the most motivating. But if they’re too high, they can backfire. Shared expectations can also motivate us. But if we don’t also expect much of ourselves, we can end up just relying on others to motivate us.

Give each family member the Expectations Map and have them read the
expectations on the map. Each person then identifies the areas where
your family has important expectations and plots them on the map.
Compare responses. Don’t argue about who’s right or wrong. Just talk
about why people put their answers where they did. Talk about the patterns you see. What do they tell you about your family?


2. Stretch

Push me to grow further.


Stretching Each Other in The “Growth Zone”

20 Minutes

Give each person a copy of the Your Experience in the Growth Zone. Each family member should complete the worksheet. When everyone is done, have each person talk about their skill or talent and the people who have helped them develop it. Once everyone has shared their story, discuss how the experiences illustrate the idea of the growth zone. End by talking about areas where each person would like to grow now and how others in the family can keep you in that growth zone.

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3. Hold Me Accountable

Insist I take responsibility for my actions,


Choose Your “Hard Thing”

10 Minutes

Psychologist Angela Duckworth has everyone in her family select a “hard
thing” that takes serious effort and isn’t fun all the time, but something
they are personally committed to doing. Family members are allowed to
quit doing the hard thing they’ve chosen, but not on a bad day or in the
middle of a process. Have family members each pick something to be
their “hard thing” that they’ll stick with in the weeks and months ahead.
Decide how you’ll regularly check in as a family to see how each person’ “hard thing” is going, and when necessary, provide encouragement and assistance.

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4. Reflect on Failures

Help me learn from mistakes and setbacks.


Learning from our Failures

25 Minutes

Give each person a copy of the How Do You Think About Failures? checklist to complete on their own. Talk together about your responses.

The two columns represent two mindsets about failures. The left column represents “fixed mindsets.” People with fixed mindsets tend to see failures and mistakes as signs that they aren’t good enough. The right column represents “growth mindsets.” People with growth mindsets tend to see failures or mistakes as opportunities to grow and learn. Talk about ways as a family to focus on using our mistakes and failures to grow and learn. How can we better support each other in dealing with disappointments.   

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Try these discussion-starter questions with your family. 

Family Conversation Starters

1. What personal goal can each family member take on during the pandemic that would give a real sense of accomplishment? How can the rest of the family hold you accountable for achieving that goal?

2. What are particular ways we need to hold each other accountable during the pandemic? How will we do that?

3. How has someone inspired you to take on a new challenge? What was inspiring to you about it? What was hard about it?

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?

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