As your teen grows, you can be there to help them work through different situations or challenges. Talking to them about relationships and consent will help them understand how to take care of themselves and others.
Remember that your child may not always feel like talking or opening up. Be patient and make sure they know they can speak to you about anything.
Start with an informal chat. Avoid putting pressure on your teenager to talk to you. Remember what it was like to be that age, and how you felt about speaking to your parent or carer.
If you find it hard to talk to your child, read our advice on talking about difficult topics.
Give your child some examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviours.
A relationship is healthy when both people are:
An relationship is unhealthy when someone is:
Talk to your child about respect. Speak about gender equality and spotting sexual harassment. It can also help to understand what behaviour is involved in emotional abuse, as it’s not always easy to spot the signs.
If your child isn’t open to talking with you, make them aware of services like The Mix. The site offers advice articles for under-25s on lots of issues, a helpline, counselling and an online community. It also has an ‘Is my relationship healthy?’ quiz.
Find ways to help your child understand sex and consent. You could:
When reflecting on TV, books or music together, ask them what they think about actions or words. Are the characters’ actions OK? Are there signs of unhealthy behaviour or lack of consent?
You might also want to talk to your child about safe sex. It’s worth making sure they feel supported to talk about STIs, pregnancy and contraception. Provide opportunities for them to lead the conversation.
Encourage your child to let someone else know if they’ve received any images, or feel pressure to send any. The law is there to keep them safe and protect them.