This article first appeared on Boys Town National Training in February 2015.
We have all seen the giddy teenage girl at the mall with her boyfriend with hearts floating above her head. Unfortunately, this is just as common as seeing a brooding young man who thinks his life is over because things didn’t work out.
Dating relationships can be a great experience for teens, allowing them to learn skills to stay healthy in a relationship. As adults it is important that we teach kids how to build a strong relationship from the ground up or know when to walk way.
Share these tips with a teen to help keep them safe:
Be Honest & Tell the Truth– Healthy relationships are based on honesty and truth. Trust is built up over time as people prove and learn they can rely on each other.
Use these tips to teach kids more about honesty and trustworthiness.
Have Self-Confidence– Sometimes insecurity creeps into a relationship. Insecurity is a normal human emotion. In healthy relationships, people feel increased self- confidence when their dating partners encourage and support their interests and talents. It’s important to have separate activities to be involved in. This provides self- confidence and inner strength.
Share this fun video as an example of having self-confidence and ask your students to make a list of characteristics they are proud of.
Know the Difference Between a Compliment & a Con – Sometimes it is hard to tell if someone is sincere in what they are saying. Are their compliments sincere or are they just trying to manipulate the situation to get what they want?
“Complimentary con lines” are thinly veiled “come-on” statements or outright lies used to seduce someone in some way. Con language is usually graphic and controlling. The person tries to get the upper hand by controlling the others’ emotions. An honest compliment is an expression of admiration, praise or respect with no strings attached!
Use the lesson plans in Unmasking Sexual Con Games available from Boys Town Press to teach teens the difference between a con and a compliment.
Develop a Platonic Friendship First-Learn to be friends first – many teens learn that they have more fun together by hanging out at school, or going to events in a group, without the pressure of dating right away. Teens should take the time get to know each other. After a stronger bond is created through platonic friendship, they can then move to friendly dating if appropriate.
Have your kids brainstorm healthy ideas for group activities that will allow for friendship building in safe environments. For resources on helping teens build positive friendships, get Friend Me! 10 Awesome Steps to Fun and Friendship from Boys Town Press.
Look for Balance – Remember that a healthy friendship or dating relationship should always involve “give and take” from both people. Knowing themselves, understanding what makes for a good or bad relationship, being sure of their values and boundaries, and practicing good social skills will set the stage for healthy friendships and dating relationships now and in the future.
Help teens learn to clearly express their physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual boundaries. Use this activity to help kids identify what means the most to them, preparing them to stay true to themselves in a relationship.
Hopefully, these tips will help you teach your teen to begin a new healthy relationship, improve a current dating relationship, OR reveal to them that it’s time to “pack it up” and move on. Visit Boys Town Press for more resources on healthy relationships!