Being a teen is a really confusing time. You are struggling to be independent and find out how to fit in this world. Now throw in dating into the mix and whew…
Many teens struggle to know how to act, or what to say, and some are just glad that someone is showing an interest in them. They have all kinds of emotions, excitement, confusion, even feelings of inadequacy – which many can hide. We don’t want to give them dating advice, but instead, want to help support them in feeling confident in themselves and making smart choices.
As an educator, I have heard my fair share of teen dating stories. Some of them I wish I had on “ear muffs” for and there were definitely things that I wish I could have unseen. Like catching students engaged in physical activities in a stairwell or sometimes the students would show me texts that are so racy, even I blush. But so many of these stories also have warning signs that the students are in unhealthy relationships or unsafe situations. We want our students to be able to identify some of these warning signs and avoid unhealthy or unsafe situations.
Sometimes it is easy to spot unhealthy relationships, but other times it can be less than obvious. For example:
- Students being preoccupied with the relationship and losing themselves
- Not focusing on things that were once important to them
- Isolating themselves from friends and family
- Putting their needs secondary to the needs of the person they are dating
- Doing things they do not feel comfortable doing
This list can go on…
A great way to get teens involved in conversations about healthy relationships is by providing them scenarios of healthy and unhealthy relationships and have them identify which are healthy and which scenarios are unhealthy.
Another great way to engage teens in talking about unhealthy relationships is by providing them with skits of healthy and unhealthy relationships; Having them discuss what is occurring in the scenes given, and how they can stay safe.
It can feel like you are being intrusive when you ask questions about their personal lives and it might be out of your comfort zone. You may also ask yourself, “So what do I do?”
A few ways to address these warning signs are to:
- Have a conversation with the student and fact find. What is actually happening in the relationship? Are they safe?
- Talk about smart choices and what healthy relationships look like
- Support them in talking to a school counselor or social worker
- If you are a counselor, social worker, FACS, or health teacher, here is a great activity for when you are able to speak to teens about dating and sexual relationships
Safety Tips for Teens
- Don’t meet people in abandoned buildings – Meet in public places with lots of people
- Don’t go to someone’s house or apartment when no one is home – Meet in public places with lots of people
- Don’t go to public parks or secluded areas alone
- Don’t get into someone’s car you just met
- If you do go in someone’s car you have known for a short time, take a picture of the license plate and send it to a good friend. Message them where you are going and you can even take a picture of the person you are going with. If they won’t let you then you need to get away from them as fast as possible
- Be careful of who you meet on the internet. Make sure you have facetime them first so you can see they are not catfishing you
- Do you know for sure that they have the right intentions?
I would love to hear some crazy stories you have heard about teen dating! Share them below in the comment section.
You might like: