Teen Relationships

Posted on July 14, 2017 · Posted in Student Services

Healthy relationships are a crucial part of adolescent development and individual growth. Through friendships, teens are able to empathize with others, experience both feelings of independence and dependence within a relationship, trust others, and communicate more easily in times of conflict. Elements of healthy teenage relationships are: respect, trust, mutual intimacy, caring and empathy, communication, and selfawareness/self-worth.

As individuals we may be unique, but some experiences and needs are common to all of our lives. Having healthy relationships with our peers is one common need. Adolescents especially need healthy friendships. It’s important to this age group to have someone who shares the same likes and dislikes in music or clothing, or someone who can offer mutual support in navigating this difficult growth stage. As well, parental guidance at this time is key to helping form healthy friendships.

What makes a relationship healthy?

Healthy relationships are fun and make you feel good about yourself. You can have a healthy relationship with anyone in your life – family, friends and the people you date. Relationships take time, energy, and care to make them healthy. The relationships that you have as a teen will be a special part of your life and will teach you important lessons about who you are.

Communication & Sharing

The most important part of any healthy relationship between two people is communication: being able to share things about yourself and your feelings, and paying attention to what the other person shares. This can happen by talking, texting, emailing or writing, and even using body language. One way of showing that you care using body language is by looking someone in the eye when they are talking, rather than looking at other stuff going on around you. Healthy communication allows you and the other person to feel comfortable with one another and figure out what you both like to do. You can also share your feelings with the other person and trust that he or she will be there to listen, support you, and keep personal information that you share private. In healthy relationships, people don’t lie. Communication is based on honesty and trust.

Respect and Trust

Disagreements may still happen in healthy relationships, but you learn to stay calm and talk about how you feel. Talking calmly helps you to understand the real reason for not getting along, and this makes it much easier to figure out how to fix the problem. In healthy relationships, working through disagreements often makes the relationship stronger. Feeling good about yourself – having good self-esteem – and knowing that you deserve a healthy relationship is also very important.

How do I know that I have a healthy relationship with someone?

  • You feel good about yourself when you are around that person.
  • You think that there is an equal amount of give and take.
  • You feel safe around the other person.
  • You enjoy spending time with the other person, instead of feeling like you’re pressured into spending time with him or her.
  • You feel that you can trust him or her with your secrets.

If you don’t feel that there is good communication, sharing and trust, you are probably in an unhealthy relationship. Remember, though, that trust takes time to build and you have to take care of your relationships with thoughtfulness and patience.

Parents often ask how they can be involved and encourage their child to create positive relationships in their lives. Here are some ways you can help your child build healthy relationships:

  • Build respect for other people’s feelings and property. Compliment your child’s knowledge and abili-ties, pay attention and listen to him or her, and ask permission to use things that belong to them. Your child will display the same behaviors to you and to others outside the home. Respect is a two-way street that builds trust, encouraging good relationships.
  • Provide a safe and loving home environment. Your child should feel comfortable bringing friends home, and his or her friends should feel welcome in your home. This gives you an ideal opportunity to observe your child’s friends and spot troublesome relationships.
  • Teach responsibility. Give appropriate amounts of independence and freedom. Do not instantly demand that your child end a relationship with which you are uncomfortable. Instead, choose a time to calmly express your concerns and gently remind your child about the boundaries and standards you have set for your family. Most children will respect these boundaries and eventually make them part of their lives.
  • Resolve conflict. Teach your child to respect other points of view. No relationship is without discord, and sometimes we have to lose the fight to win the relationship. Compromise is a key ingredient in main-taining good, healthy relationships.
  • Be a good role model. You are the most powerful example in your child’s life. Let your child observe your own relationships, especially those that are long-standing—from junior high or your college days. Talk about your friendships openly—the good times and the not-so-good times, the ups and the downs. Your child should know that putting effort into relationships is what contributes to their value and longevity.

Learning how to choose good friends and how to nurture friendships is an important part of growing up. These skills can make coping with life’s hardships a lot easier when they occur. By learning how to build healthy relationships now, you will be able to have them with people you meet throughout your life!