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Developing Healthy Relationships: A Role for Adults

View the Developing Healthy Relationships: A Role for Adults in PDF


Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of respect. This means that both people can talk openly, honestly and freely to each other - without feeling pressure to act or think a certain way. People in healthy relationships give-and-take. They take turns making decisions, support each other and talk things through to make sure both people are heard.

Choosing Respect

Being an adolescent can be tough. Adolescence is a time when youth learn how to make decisions about relationships with their friends, family and girlfriends or boyfriends. What they learn now, about how to treat others, will affect relationships throughout their lifetime. But adolescents can't do this by themselves. They need adults - parents, teachers, coaches and others - to help them choose respect.

Did you know that recent studies show one in four adolescents reports experiencing some form of dating abuse? Even something as subtle as putting someone down or trying to change how they dress can be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. That's why adults need to talk to teens now, about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships. Adults can start by helping adolescents learn some key skills that will help them give and get respect in any relationship they have.

  • Anger Control: Think before speaking, especially when angry. Take a deep breath or walk away until calmer. Never express anger through physical violence. Be aware that anger can be a cover-up for other emotions and look for the underlying reason.
  • Problem Solving: Break the problem down into manageable pieces. Identify possible solutions. Consider the likely outcome(s) for each possible solution.
  • Negotiation and Compromise: Look at problems objectively, acknowledging differing points of view. Strive to find "win-win" solutions. Realize that healthy relationships involve give and take on both sides.
  • Assertiveness: Be clear and open about feelings and expectations. Respect one's own needs as well as those of others. Don't confuse assertiveness with aggression. Aggression is a violent way of expressing feelings and expectations. Assertiveness is an honest and courageous way to express oneself.
  • Fighting fair: Recognize that all relationships have disagreements, but how partners deal with conflict is important to the health of the relationship. Stick to the subject, avoid insults, and don't bring up past hurts. Understand that it's OK to excuse oneself and return to the discussion when calmer.
  • Understanding: Take a minute to understand what others might be feeling - put yourself in their shoes. It can improve your communications skills and help form healthy relationships.
  • Listening: Don't just talk, listen. Keep the lines of communication open. Allow others to express their opinions without forcing yours on others to win an argument.
  • Being a Role Model: Take every opportunity to show respect for others. Help others to see where they agree and disagree. This will help everyone know how to choose respect.

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