Why Challenging Growth Is Important

How Challenge Helps Kids Grow

Mother and daughter out shopping

Without some challenge in their lives, kids get bored. The same is true of adults. When kids have challenging tasks that fit their abilities, they tend to rise to the challenge. They find the activities are more enjoyable and interesting than when the tasks are not challenging.4

Challenging young people to grow—through relationship with their parents—can influence many parts of young people’s lives. Here’s a sample:

  • Overall adjustment and resilience1
  • Ability to stay focused on achieving their long-term goals10
  • Civic participation1, 8
  • Athletic and sports achievement3
  • Nutrition and health habits5
  • Reduced alcohol or tobacco use9

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to explore the ways you challenge your kids to grow.
  • Learn about getting the right balance of challenge and support in your family.

Research Sources

 1. Alegre, A. (2011). Parenting styles and children’s emotional intelligence: What do we know? The Family Journal, 19(1), 56-62. doi:10.1177/1066480710387486

 2. Bowen, G. L., Hopson, L. M., Rose, R. A., Glennie, E. J., & Carolina, N. (2012). Students’ perceived parental school behavior expectations and their academic performance : A longitudinal analysis. Family Relations, 61(April), 175–191. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00695.x

3. Bremer, K. L. (2012). Parental involvement, pressure, and support in youth sport: A narrative literature review. Journal of Family Theory & Review4(3), 235-248. doi:10.1111/j.1756-2589.2012.00129.x

4. Dailey, R. M. (2008). Parental challenge: Developing and validating a measure of how parents challenge their adolescents. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(4), 643–669. doi:10.1177/0265407508093784

5. Gable, S., & Lutz, S. (2012). Household, parent, and child contributions to childhood obesity. Family Relations, 49(3), 293–300. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2000.00293.x

6. Kirk, C. M., Lewis-Moss, R. K., Nilsen, C., & Colvin, D. Q. (2011). The role of parent expectations on adolescent educational aspirations. Educational Studies, 37(1), 89–99. doi:10.1080/03055691003728965

7. Lanza, H. I., Huang, D. Y. C., Murphy, D. A., & Hser, Y.-I. (2013). A latent class analysis of maternal responsiveness and autonomy-granting in early adolescence: Prediction to later adolescent sexual risk-taking. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 33(3), 404–428. doi:10.1177/0272431612445794

8. Mesurado, B., Richaud, M. C., Mestre, M. V., Samper-Garcia, P., Tur-Porcar, A., Morales Mesa, S. A., & Viveros, E. F. (2014). Parental Expectations and Prosocial Behavior of Adolescents From Low-Income Backgrounds: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Between Three Countries--Argentina, Colombia, and Spain. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45(9), 1471–1488. doi:10.1177/0022022114542284

9. Nash, S. G., McQueen, A., & Bray, J. H. (2005). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Family environment, peer influence, and parental expectations. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(1), 19–28. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2004.06.004

10. Rathunde, K. (2001). Family context and the development of undivided interest: A longitudinal study of family support and challenge and adolescents’ quality of experience. Applied Developmental Science, 5(3), 158–171. doi:10.1207/S1532480XADS0503_4

11. Serido, J., Shim, S., Mishra, A., & Tang, C. (2010). Financial parenting, financial coping behaviors, and well-being of emerging adults. Family Relations, 59(4), 453–464. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00615.x

12. Smith, C. (2003). Religious participation and parental moral expectations and supervision of American youth. Review of Religious Research, 44(4), 414–424. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3512218

13. Yamamoto, Y., & Holloway, S. D. (2010). Parental expectations and children’s academic performance in sociocultural context. Educational Psychology Review, 22(3), 189–214. doi:10.1007/s10648-010-9121-z

14. Zhang, Y., Haddad, E., Torres, B., & Chen, C. (2011). The reciprocal relationships among parents’ expectations, adolescents' expectations, and adolescents' achievement: A two-wave longitudinal analysis of the NELS data. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(4), 479–89. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9568-8