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Healthy Relationships

The relationships that your child has with other people, such as friends, family and romantic partners can have a big impact on their mental health. When they have healthy relationships, they are more likely to feel positive and confident. When they have unhealthy relationships, they are more likely to feel negative and insecure. A good healthy relationship usually consists of healthy communication, healthy boundaries, mutual respect, and support for one another. 

Every relationship can have ups and downs or go through times of difficulty, but if you or your child find there are more negatives than positives in a relationship, with you or someone else, then it might be time to think about whether or not it’s a healthy one.

  • In an unhealthy relationship your child could be left feeling:

    • Confused
    • Angry with themselves
    • They could be loving and hating someone at the same time
    • Trapped
    • Scared
    • Depressed and worthless

    Here are some things that could be considered unhealthy in a relationship;

    • Constantly being put down and made to feel bad about themselves.
    • They are often made to feel guilty.
    • They change themselves to please someone.
    • They worry about setting someone off and feel like they have to watch what they say.
    • They feel anxious or unwell when they know they are going to see someone.
    • Being sent texts and being called constantly.
    • They have lost confidence in themselves.
    • They suffer physical abuse.
    • Being controlled by someone else.


  • The relationship between parents/carers and children is not always easy. Your child's relationship with you can get particularly difficult as they grow up and start to make their own choices in life. They may also clash with you if they start doing things that you don’t approve of or don't quite understand. Things like relationships, sexuality, school or college, careers, and religious or political views can all cause problems between you and your child.

    Sometimes it can be hard to find ways to communicate, but there are things you can try to make it easier;

    Be warm & loving - Every time you speak to your child try and and be warm with your expressions, give them eye contact, smile and encourage them.

    Set boundaries and rules - Children need guidance and structure. Talk to them about what you expect of them and make sure they understand. 

    Listen and understand - Show your child that you understand them, and make sure they know you are there to help them whenever they need help.

    Set a good example - Try to set a good example and show them how to behave. Work together with your child when they come up against a problem. Help them learn how to deal with problems in a healthy way.

    Tell your child you love them - Tell your child that you love them everyday. Even if your child is not behaving how you would like, let your child know you didn’t like the behaviour but you love them unconditionally. 

    Play together - For younger childrenPlay is one of the most important things which will help your child develop. As well as it being fun and helping you improve your relationship with your child, it can help children’s language skills, emotions, creativity and social skills. 

    Be there for them - Make sure you are available to talk to your child as much as possible, even just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference in establishing good communication. 

    Eat meals together - Put phones and tablets away and spend quality time together as a family. 


  • As your child gets older, crushes on school-friends can change into more serious romantic relationships. Although it can be a difficult subject to talk to your child about, it is better as a parent or carer to support them rather than forbid the relationship. 

    • Talk to them about responsible behaviour and respect for themselves and the other person. 
    • Once they are in their teen years you should talk to them about contraception. If you have a daughter, you can visit the GP first and let her go in alone or with you to discuss the different options available.
    • Make sure your child understands about contraception. Support them to buy condoms or other contraception alternatives, and make sure they know how to use them. Make sure they know that they are responsible for their own actions. 
    • Make sure your child knows that it is their choice who they have an intimate relationship with. Help your child to feel confident in many areas of life and to value themselves so they can decide what is comfortable for them.


  • Socialising on the internet is common with children and teens. It can be fun and a good way of keeping in contact with friends and family. 

    Some children may make new friendships and meet others with similar interests to theirs through other online platforms such as gaming sites. Some of these people they may have never met in real life. Whatever the type of friend, most children will have a positive experience chatting, sharing or playing with others online. But they need to be aware and recognise that some people online can cause them harm. 

    As a parent or carer you can help protect your child by talking together about online relationships and how to stay safe;

    • Try and talk to your child about their online friends and find out who they are. Talk about the difference between online friendships and offline ones. With younger children, let them know they should only talk to friends online that they have met and know offline. 
    • Remind them to avoid requests to chat in private. If they do talk to someone they don’t know offline, remind them only to speak on a public chat function and to let them know if they feel uncomfortable.
    • Encourage them to tell you if anything happens online that makes them feel worried, scared or uncomfortable. 

    For more information and guidance on how to stay safe online *click here*

  • Sometimes abuse is hard to spot in a relationship, even for the person involved. If your child begins to feel scared or controlled or physically hurt by the person they are with, then this is abuse. Your child may be confused because it feels like a loving relationship. This can happen at any age, regardless of gender.
    For more information on how to spot abuse in your child's relationship *click here*

Who Can Help?

You can contact a member of the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you feel your child is at immediate risk of harm, or to report any suspicious incidents please call 999. The police will be able to support if required.

Your child’s school may also be able to help you with talking to your child if needed.

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